Category Archives: wearable

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


Atheer Uses Android for AiR at WTS



logo_atheerAtheer‘s AR smart glasses provide an interactive experience for industry, overlaying digital information for manufacturing, construction and medical uses. Andrew explores Atheer AiR and augmented reality with Theo from Atheer at the Wearable Technology Show.

Atheer has worked hard to develop a set of easy-to-use and self-contained augmented reality smart glasses with a familiar user interface. Simply, the glasses run Android with familiar apps and navigation, though Atheer have built additional features and apps, such as 3D depth. Atheer have used their experience in UI to ensure that the digital world doesn’t interfere with reality, positioning content on the periphery while keeping central vision clear. The built-in camera detects hand motion and gestures. Tap on a virtual icon and the app launches.

AtheerAir AR Googles

I tried out Atheer’s first generation smart glasses and I was surprised at the experience. While there’s a certain element of novelty, I could see how they’d be useful in a range of industries and beyond that, I don’t think it’ll be too long before AR is common in the office and at home.


Bonnie Binary Demos E-Textiles at WTS



BonnieBinary Logo For me, this was one of the highlights of the Wearable Technology Show. Bonnie Binary is a design consultancy offering creative skills and prototyping for e-textile and associated wearable technology products.

The team at Bonnie Binary have created impressive demonstrations of e-textiles, with lights sewn into the cloth responding to touch on other areas of the fabric.

Rather than explain what Bonnie Binary can do, here are two short videos demonstrating their e-textile capabilities and founder Annie Lywood tells me more in the interview.


PitPat Activity Tracker for Dogs at WTS



pitpatIt’s all too easy for both humans and dogs to get a little overweight with a few extra inches round the tummy. The PitPat activity tracker is designed to help dogs (and their owners) stay healthy and fit. Andrew from PitPat explains more.

Around the size of a matchbox, the lightweight PitPat attaches to the dog’s collar using Velcro and records the animal’s activity throughout the day. Given the breed and age of dog, the PitPat app (free download from the Apple and Google app stores) shows suitable activity goals.

Pressing the tracker’s orange button transmits the data to the owner’s smartphone and the app shows the owner what the dog has been doing and whether the goals have been met. Future enhancements to the app will let owners share the activity with friends and social media networks.

The PitPat is waterproof for splashing around (IP67) and the user-replaceable battery will last about a year.

The PitPat has been on sale since January and is available from pet shops and on-line for around GB£40. Cuddly toy not included.

PitPat Dog Activity Tracker