Category Archives: wearable

Activinsights Measures Health at Wearable Technology Show



Activity trackers with built-in heart rate monitors are incredible pieces of technology. Sophisticated electronics crammed into a tiny space at relatively inexpensive cost and generating vast swathes of data. Fantastic as these devices are, they’re aimed squarely at consumers. There’s no guarantee that a thousand steps is a thousand steps.

For medical applications, a validated wearable is required and these devices have gone through rigorous research programmes to ensure that they work within a confirmed margin of error. British firm Activinsights manufacture their own wrist wearables for medical and healthcare professionals to use with with patients and clients.  In the interview, Stephanie from Activinsights tells me how their wearables differ from the consumer market. For starters, some of them have a year-long battery life.

With a range of devices for different scenarios, detailed information is collected and subsequently downloaded for analysis. Activinsights’ analytic tools can assess the data to provide lifestyle recommendations for long-term prevention but can also identify when the wearer’s condition is deteriorating. Many physical manifestations can be indicators of serious medical conditions, so it’s worth keeping track of activity over extended periods to help make a diagnosis.

The devices are available now with prices from around GB£260.


Pay By Swatch with G+D Mobile Security at Wearable Technology Show



Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Wearable Technology Show, I’m with Kenneth from G+D Mobile Security which specialise in “user and device identities”. In particular, they’re behind some of the technologies that enable wearables and mobile devices to act as ID for, say, transit or ski lift passes.

The team at G+D Mobile Security work to put additional value into an existing wearable device, so a watch becomes a lift pass, an activity tracker becomes a payment device or a wristband becomes ID for a music festival. G+D were behind Swatch Pay launching in China with China UnionPay in 2017 using Swatch Bellamy models, and a European launch is expected later this year.

In the interview, Kenneth takes me through the process by which a wearable or other smart device can be programmed to securely mimic a credit card, and talks around the current capabilities plus some interesting future developments that give greater control over where and when payments can be made.

Payments are only one aspect of G+D’s wearable portfolio, and they’re currently working with various universities to develop IDs which can be used for access control, tracking class attendance and membership of sports teams.

G+D Mobile Security have a couple of interesting papers on current technology trends including smart homes, app security and the “digital doctor“. Worth a read.

 


Rubi Pregnancy Monitor at Wearable Technology Show



In my experience, expecting a new baby is a conflicting mix of emotions ranging from total joy to sheer terror…and I’m the dad. For mums-to-be there’s the extra worry from carrying the baby and 78% of women experience unhealthy levels of stress and anxiety during pregnancy. These concerns are not entirely unfounded as the risk of miscarriages and stillbirths is significant, and sadly there’s still considerable stigma associated with a failed pregnancy.

Many medical professionals recommend measuring kicks and punches after 28 weeks as a good indicator of a foetus’ relative health but there’s often natural variation and mum’s often got other things on her mind. Of course, this is where Rubi from Sensable Technnologies comes in. Rubi is a passive wearable pregnancy monitor that mum wears over her bump to automatically record kicking information. Eric and Nolan tell me more about Rubi at the Wearable Technology Show in London.

Typically Rubi records a running total for the last hour and keeps track of the last kick. The information is transmitted via Bluetooth to the parents’ smartphones and the complementary app shows the activity. If there is anything to be concerned about, the Rubi app will alert the mum and she can do a non-stress test to check.

Rubi itself uses strain gauges which are screen-printed onto the fabric to make the maternity band, and there’s a small microcontroller pod for collecting the kick data and transmitting it onwards. In addition to the maternity band, the team has produced an active tape which adheres directly to the skin.

Rubi is now live on Kickstarter with several early bird deals. Prices are slightly different from the interview but currently Rubi is priced at US$223 / GB£165 with delivery expected in February and March 2019. The active tape version will be delivered earlier at the end of 2018.

Please bear the delivery dates in mind when considering your own pregnancy as Rubi is best used from 28 weeks onwards.


Advanced Textiles Research at Wearable Technology Show



I’ve been attending the Wearable Technology Show for a couple of years now and it’s been interesting to see the change in fabrics, yarns and threads. In particular, the conductive wires for LEDs have gone from being obvious to almost invisible. If the LED wasn’t powered up, it would be unnoticeable except close up.

The Advanced Textiles team at Nottingham Trent University in England were demonstrating some of their latest yarns and explaining how their research had helped create yarns with LEDs and other electronics inside. M-Nour from the team took me through their latest developments.

The basic idea is that by encapsulating small electronics within resin and connecting with very flexible wires, the yarn can be used in a wide range of fabrics and clothing without affecting the drape, wash-ability and durability.

Although LEDs are eye-catching, there’s much potential with sensors, such as socks with woven-in thermistors (temperature sensors) for people with diabetes, or gloves with accelerometers to measure vibration for workmen using pneumatic drills. There’s even the possibility to embed RFID chips for the tracking of clothing (and their wearer).

It’s all impressive stuff and I wonder what will be available next year.


ProGlove Scans from the Back of the Hand at Wearable Technology Show



Laser barcode scanners have revolutionised stock management and inventory processing in a wide range of industries and they’re ubiquitous at the supermarket checkout. Many of these scanners are handheld models that are constantly picked up and put down as needed, but ProGlove offers an alternative with the barcode scanner that’s fitted on the back of a glove. I chat with Aaron from ProGlove as the company brings to the scanner to the UK.

Even to someone who doesn’t work in this space, the benefits are obvious. A worker isn’t constantly picking up and putting down the scanner and the scanner comes with the worker without any thought; it doesn’t get left behind on a shelf. It’s ingenious and solves a couple of problems in one go. The scanner follows all the major standards and integrating the ProGlove scanner into an existing setup should be straightforward.

ProGlove have already worked with a number of big names – Audi, BMW, Skoda, John Deere, Bosch – so it looks like they’ve a good thing going here.


Get Smart about Sleep with the Oura Ring at Wearable Technology Show



When I saw the second generation of the Oura smart ring at the Wearable Technology Show, I was impressed. The Oura team has managed to cram their smart ring with everything you’d expect to find in an activity tracker – motion, pulse, temperature. What you might have expected to wear on your wrist, you can now wear on your finger, and it looks like a piece of jewellery, not a tech gadget.

And while steps and pulse rate are interesting, the Oura ring isn’t only about the day and motion. It continues the prevalent theme of getting a good night’s sleep. The smart ring measures in detail blood flow, motion and temperature to track sleep, and the Oura app shows the wearer their sleep patterns, including the amount of deep sleep. With this information, the wearer can adjust their behaviours before bedtime and see the impact of the changes the next day via the Oura app (available for iOS and Android). The ring syncs wirelessly via Bluetooth to nearby smartphones.

Like jewellery, there’s plenty of choice in the models and colours. There are three models; Heritage, Balance and Balance Diamond, and four colours; silver, black, and premium rose and stealth. Not all combinations of model and colour are available – check here.

The Heritage and Balance models are priced at US$299 / 314€ and the Balance Diamond is US$999 / 1049€. Yes, those are real diamonds. Pre-orders are open now with delivery expected in June or July for orders taken now. There’s $50 / 50€ for orders before end of April.

There’s more in my interview with Marjo and Hannu, Oura’s Chief Scientific Officer.

Ok, so the Oura ring doesn’t show the time, but I’ve a perfectly good wristwatch for that.


Get the Right Light with Lys at Wearable Technology Show



It’s well established now that blue light has a disruptive effect on sleep as it affects the production of melatonin more than any other wavelength of light but it’s not only effect of light in the hour before bedtime that’s important. Much of our day is spent indoors in often poor quality light conditions. But how bad is it? The Lys light tracker can help with that, and I find out more from Christina, CEO and Founder, at the Wearable Technology Show.

UK firm Lys Technologies have developed Lys as a light tracker for the indoor generation and physically it’s a small round device that clips onto clothing. The intention is that you get Lys as close as possible to your eyes so that the tracker receives a similar amount of light radiation. Lys not only measures the intensity of light falling on it, but also the quality, which for light is represented by its wavelength. Most of us are familiar with the light spectrum which runs from infrared through the ultraviolet but white light is not a single colour: it’s made up of many colours (remember the experiment with the prism in school?). By slightly adjusting the composition of the light, you can end up with bluish whites and warm (reddish) whites – you might have seen these descriptions on LED lighting.

The other side of the coin is that humans have a circadian rhythm that’s aligned to the 24 hours of the day (give or take). This rhythm is reinforced by daylight received in the eyes but as we now spend so much of our time indoors, sometimes the rhythm becomes disrupted and we have difficulty sleeping. One of the key differences between natural and artificial light is that daylight is “full spectrum” with a broad range of wavelengths, whereas most bulbs only approximate daylight with a smaller number of wavelengths.

Anyway, that’s all by-the-bye. The important thing is that the Lys tracker can measure the light falling on it during the day, and provide this information to you via an app, showing you the quality, intensity and duration of the light. This guides you to help get the “right light” to reinforce the circadian rhythms and get a good night’s sleep.

Just in case you are wondering, Lys means light in Danish, and is a nod to Christina’s Danish roots.

The Lys tracker is available to purchase now for GB£89 but what I’m most interested in are some of the possible future developments where information from Lys is fed into smart lighting systems like Philips Hue or LIFX which can adjust their colours to prepare you for bed. That’s really where the smart home becomes smart.


From Idea to Product with Thrive at Wearable Technology Show



Specialists in wearable technology, Thrive Wearables helps companies and entrepreneurs take ideas and concepts through to finished products. At the Wearable Technology Show, I chat with Jacob, Thrive’s founder, about their design service and the challenges facing the wearable market in 2018.

To understand what Thrive do, think of a big company that sells goods that aren’t electronic in any way. Say, clothes or shoes. The clothier can see complementary wearables as an opportunity but has no knowledge or experience in the space. In this instance, it can turn to Thrive Wearables to help deliver the imagined product without the need to develop in-house skills.

Alternatively, the Thrive team can mentor startups to get their ideas to a prototype. The startup can then seek the funding needed to take the prototype to finished product.

For example, Thrive worked with BioSelf on their Sensate stress management wareable which is currently in a beta phase and taking pre-orders.

Looking to the future, Jacob sees wearable tech disappearing into clothing and becoming more modularised and seamless. Key to delivering this change are higher quality sensors, better power sources and improved communication networks. Here’s to the next few years.


Really Smart Shoes from Tinker Design at Wearable Technology Show



While most tech shows have their headline acts like Apple and Samsung, I really enjoy talking to the the entrepreneurs, artisans and artists who come up with ideas and concepts that are unlikely to be on the shelves PC World anytime soon. Here’s a great example from the Wearable Technology Show: Thushara from Tinker Design has these beautiful smart shoes. Not content with the normal smart features of steps and distance, these shoes give the wearer a gentle foot massage under control of their smartphone. It’s a great combination of design, aesthetics and electronics.

Supported by Centre for Fashion Enterprise, a fashion business incubator, Thushara hopes to bring these to market in around six months. No details on price but as these are handmade shoes, they’re not going to be cheap.


Mio Heart Rate and Activity Trackers at WTS



Mio Logo Mio‘s range of heart rate and activity trackers compares well with the big names in the fitness space, but it’s perhaps not the best known brand, though it does have history behind it. At the Wearable Technology Show, Andrew chats with Michael about Mio’s products and the background to the company.

Specialising in heart rate tracking during activity, all the models in Mio’s range have optical sensors built into the wrist bands to measure the wearers pulse. Typically, the trackers are accurate to one beat per minute when compared with a medical grade EKG. There are four models, Link, Velo, Fuse and Alpha, with the Velo aimed at cyclists.

Communicating with smartphones is done via Bluetooth (what else?) and the Mio’s are compatible with a range of appsANT+ devices and bike computers (not Alpha). In addition to the heart rate, the trackers will give the usual fitness metrics like calories and steps.

All the trackers are available now, with prices from GB£75 to £120. A new model, the Slice, is expected out later in the year.

Mio Alpha