Category Archives: wearable

Bittium Designs Wearables at WTS



Bittium LogoLet’s say that you are a major manufacturer of sportswear and you need an activity tracker to keep up with the market. You’ve no experience in electronics or wearables, so what do you do? If you’re Adidas, you turn to Bittium and get the professionals on the job. Martti, Senior Specialist at Bittium, takes Andrew through the company’s offering.

Finnish firm Bittium are a technology design house, specialising in connectivity solutions, from 4G base stations to mobile phones, IoT and wearables. Bittium will take an idea for a product and develop it to a finished product, including physical design, hardware and software.

Here’s the tracker that Bittium did for Adidas, the MiCoach Smart Run.  It’s a few years old now (2013) but it’s interesting to hear the development story.

Bittium Adidias


Beats for Baby from Babypod at WTS



Babypod Logo

The article and interview concerns an intimate feminine product for use during pregnancy. If this is likely to offend, please stop reading now.

Most children enjoy music, rhythm and dance so it doesn’t take much of stretch of the imagination to think that even unborn babies would respond to music while in the womb. Unfortunately there’s a great deal of sound-deadening material between the baby and the outside world. Remember those times when you could feel the music inside? How loud was the music then? Going by my experience, it was ear-ringingly loud, and consequently the problem is getting the music through to the baby without deafening mum. Fortunately, Babypod have the answer to this problem; Andrew finds out what it is from Alex.

As you’ll see from the pictures, the Babypod is a small silicone rubber ovoid with a built-in speaker. To use, the Babypod is inserted into the vagina, bringing the music much closer to the unborn child in the amniotic sac. The attached stereo cable is plugged into a smartphone or mp3 player to play music, and there’s a secondary audio jack to share the music with mum. When in use, scans have shown babies to respond to the music by sticking their tongues out or shaking their heads, with 87% of babies responding to music.

The Babypod website has much more to say on the benefits and the safety of the Babypod itself but it does appear to have been trialled scientifically and safely. The Babypod is available now for just under GB£100.

Babypod


MainTool Smart Strap at Wearable Tech Show



Maintool logoUndoubtedly smart watches have their place but few watch aficionados are going to replace their Swiss timepiece with a mass-produced device of limited lifespan. MainTool have a potential answer for those who want both the horology and the smarts. Andrew finds out more from Asier.

The MainTool’s concept is simple. Instead of building the sensors into the watch, put the electronics into the leather strap. Brilliant! Like many activity trackers, the MainTool smart strap measures steps, heart rate, sleep and temperature. For smartphone owners, the strap provides alarms and call notifications passed from the phone via Bluetooth. Calls can be rejected from the MainTool strap too. As expected, there’s a complementary smartphone app.

On the practical side, the MainTool smart strap is waterproof and has around 2-3 weeks of battery life. The picture shows the naked electronics before it’s put inside the leather strap.

Aimed at the B2B market, expect to see this coming to market within the next few months.

Maintool Smart Strap


The Gator Watch Phone Tracker at Wearable Tech Show



Gator WatchThe Gator watch phone and tracker is for kids who need a little independence but are too young for a smartphone. Andrew interviews Colleen from Techsixtyfour to find out the benefits of this Tracy-esque watch.

The Gator watch looks like a stylish smart watch with both analogue and digital displays, but it’s also a wearable mobile phone that lets the child call two pre-defined numbers, e.g. mum and dad, whenever needed. The watch can only receive calls from registered numbers so while family and friends can call the child, there’s no danger of strangers or bullies calling. For further peace of mind, parents can track the location of the child on a map.

The SIM card inside works with multiple carriers to minimise the risk of being in a dead spot and the Gator can roam through most of the EU. Battery life is around 4 days.

The Gator will be shipping next month and can be pre-ordered for GB£89. The RRP will be £99 when on-sale. A mobile contract is needed too, costing £9 per month.

Gator Watch for Kids


Acticheck Personal Alert at Wearable Tech Show



ActicheckMany people in the UK will have seen advertisements in the past for emergency call necklaces and bracelets aimed at older people who live alone, providing them with reassurance that they can call for help in the event of a fall or other emergency. Typically these products are an older technology, relatively expensive and aesthetically uninspiring. Acticheck aims to bring the idea up-to-date with an inexpensive wearable solution using consumer technology. Andrew interviews Bill to find out more.

Acticheck Assure combines a ruggedised waterproof bracelet with a monitoring hub which connects back to a cloud portal using an broadband Internet connection. In the event of a fall or other emergency, the wrist alert communicates with the hub to send messages to relatives and friends asking for help. The portal can be accessed through desktop computer, tablet or smartphone to manage settings and view personal information.

Acticheck is available now for GB£239 which includes the hub, wrist band and a year of service. The wrist band does need replaced every year or so when the internal battery runs out at a cost of £89.

Acticheck

 


Wearable Technology Show 2016



Wearable Technology Show 2016Earlier this week, GNC visited the Wearable Technology Show in London, England, to check out the state of this developing area. Part trade show and part conference, this was very much B2B territory with “I’ll give you a call next week” and “I’ll send through an NDA” being heard on more than one occasion. Although not a big show, covering only two halls at ExCeL, it incorporated IoT Connect and Augumented Reality VR. There was a strong international presence with exhibitors from Spain, Finland and China, and one person commented that he felt this was probably the #4 event after CES, IFA and MWC, which puts it in illustrious company.

Bonnie Binary Embroidered JacketThere was an interesting range of exhibitors from the big names like Samsung and TomTom to small entrepreneurs looking for help to take their products to the next level. Check out this embroidered jacket from Bonnie Binary with lights and controls sewn into the coat.

Jaguar were there showing off the F-PACE, a performance SUV stuffed with technology. Prices start from GB£35,000 but the First Edition model at the show was nearly twice that at £65,000. Jaguar F-PaceIf you’re wondering how this ties in with wearables, the car comes with a waterproof “activity key” wristband that replaces a traditional key fob. The car can also detect when the driver is tired and suggests taking a break. Stunning looking car.

Infi-tex Pressure Sensing ClothSmart fabrics were much in evidence too. With perhaps the longest track record in the industry, Infi-tex had a cloth that could do multipoint pressure sensing. See how the peaks correspond with the pressure from the fingers.

For the first time I left my trusty Olympus digital voice recorder behind and relied on my OnePlus 2 smartphone with IK Multimedia’s iRig Mic Cast and Sony’s Audio Recorder app for interviews. The iRig seems to cope with the background noise well and Audio Recorder records 44 kHz, 16 bit WAV files and I’m hoping that this will reduce the processing time for each interview. I bagged about 25 interviews and these will be pushed out over the coming weeks.

Watch this space!


Manage the Work-Life Balance with Concepter Soul



Concepter Soul LogoIf the work-life balance is something of a struggle and you find that you aren’t spending enough time nurturing your relationships, then the Concepter Soul might be for you. Nakia gets social with Tania Viezhys, Head of Communications.

Developed by the same team that created the iBlazer LED flash, the Concepter Soul measures the amount of time that you spend in close proximity to friends in the real world and gives you a summary of who you spent quality time with. Using Bluetooth, Soul combines a wearable, a key chain and an app to track who you are with during the day and reports on your top five “friends”. It may surprise you to see who takes the biggest chunk of your time.

Concepter Soul Keychain

The Concepter Soul will be available for US$29 when it comes out in early 2016.

Nakia Mann is a video producer at F5 Live: Refreshing Technology.

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Swatch may Bring a Smartwatch to Market in August



Swatch logoSwatch, the Swiss watch maker best known for its colorful and untraditional designs, is looking to enter the smartwatch market. It’s still unclear as to what exactly Swatch is planning. But at a recent company meeting, Swatch CEO Nick Hayak stated that Swatch’s smartwatch will be launching in two countries within the next three months.

2015 is definitely shaping up to be the year of the smartwatch. And while tech companies like Apple, Motorola and Pebble have all made headlines this year in the smartwatch space, it seems few established watchmakers have entered the fray. Given its history as a known and trusted brand in watchmaking, could Swatch bring a new perspective to the field?

Little is known yet about Swatch’s proposed smartwatch. Will Swatch develop a proprietary OS? Will the company implement some version of the Android operating system? During that company meeting, Hayak said that Swatch will launch its smartwatch in two countries. The first will be Switzerland and the other was only described as a “large country.” It seems logical that this other country would be the United States. But Swatch has made deals with China UnionPay, a Chinese financial firm, and it’s likely that the Swatch smartwatch will ship with a near field communication chip that could allow the device to make mobile payments. Given the prevalence of the Apple Watch and Android Wearables in the U.S., perhaps Swatch’s second launch country will be China instead.

Despite its rapid growth in recent months, the smartwatch space is still fairly new and much is likely to change. If Swatch is able to bring a product to consumers that’s unique and reasonably priced, the watchmaker might just find a whole new market to tap into.


Special Needs Customers Can Make Apple Watch Demo Appointments



Apple LogoApple has made a point of adding accessibility features to its products for years. Everything from the Mac to iOS devices has user-enabled controls and configurations for things like voice-to-text, alteration of the screen thru focused zooming in and more. And while it seems like the company’s new Apple Watch wouldn’t necessarily be that useful for customers with visual or other kinds of impairments, Apple wants to prove that misconception wrong right out of the gate. That’s why users with special needs can make appointments to test out an Apple Watch, with specific guidance from an Apple Store employee that can demonstrate all of the watch’s accessibility options.

Customers who are interested in making one of these appointments can do so thru the Apple website, the Apple Store iOS app or by calling 1-800-692-7753. When making an appointment, it’s a good idea to note that you’re a disabled user and you’d like to try out the Apple Watch’s accessibility features. This way, the store can have an iPhone preloaded with the full Watch OS and paired with an Apple Watch ready when you arrive. (Apple Stores don’t normally have their watches fully set up like this for customers who just walk in off the street, that’s why it’s important to make an appointment in advance.)

Anytime you’re going to purchase a new item (especially something that can be pricey like an Apple Watch), it’s a good idea to try it out and really see if its right for you before handing over the credit card. It’s great that Apple is continuing its commitment to disabled users by allowing them to make these special appointments. Hopefully, the Apple Watch will prove to be a true asset to those who are in need of assistive technology.


WatchPlate will Gold Plate your Apple Watch



WatchPlateDeserved or otherwise, the prevailing perception of the new Apple Watch is that it’s an accessory for rich people. It’s unclear at this point if Apple sees this as an asset or a liability. Regardless, now that the Apple Watch is officially on the market, all kinds of third party accessories and services are jumping in to fill the needs of Apple Watch owners. And while the third-party Apple Watch market may never reach the kind of saturation point that’s happened for iPhone accessories, this market is still likely to generate some real profits. The latest example of that is WatchPlate, a new service that will add gold plating to any Apple Watch.

WatchPlate works by placing an order thru the company’s website. From there, you’ll receive an e-mail with a prepaid FedEx shipping label. Take your Apple Watch to any authorized FedEx drop-off point and it’ll be whisked away to WatchPlate where it’ll undergo the gold plating process. The company estimates that your Apple Watch will be back in your hands (and on your wrist) within three business days of when its received by WatchPlate.

WatchPlate charges a $399.00 flat fee for gold plating an Apple Watch, a watch band or both. Shipping is free anywhere in the world. The plating can be done in either yellow or rose gold and WatchPlate states that it uses only 24 karat gold in the process. WatchPlate also recommends that users regularly clean and maintain their gold plated watches to ensure longevity of the plating. If needed, the company will re-plate a watch for a flat fee of $199.00.

There are a couple of things to be aware of before placing a WatchPlate order. Gold plating is only possible on stainless steel models of the Apple Watch, which excludes the Sport edition. And when it comes to potentially voiding an Apple Watch warranty, WatchPlate says:

It is possible. The process involves dipping the watch in about 3 inches of fluid for about 20 minutes total. This is much easier on the watch than Apple’s recommended maximum of 3 ft submersion for 30 minutes. That being said, because this is a new service, we don’t know how Apple’s warrantee policies could change regarding gold plating.

If you’re concerned about your watch breaking during its warranty period and it’d be difficult for you to buy another one out of pocket, you may want to proceed with caution when it comes to gold plating the device. If that’s not a concern, and you can stand to be without your shiny new watch for a few days, head on over to WatchPlate and make that new accessory truly stand out.