Category Archives: Special Media

Special Media Events

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.


Laevo Exoskeleton at Wearable Technology Show



When it comes to exoskeletons, many will think of Ripley’s power loader in Aliens. While that kind of machine is still a little way off, what it did get right is that exoskeletons will be used to help with work and here’s an early example from Dutch firm Laevo. I chat with Boudewijn Wisse from Laevo and I get to have a go myself.

Demonstrated at the Wearable Technology Show, the Laevo exoskeleton is for people who have to bend over or squat repeatedly and helps the wearer stand up. It’s not a powered exoskeleton and the additional assistance comes through a clever spring mechanism which stores energy when crouching down and then releases it to help the wearer stand up.

The picture on the left shows the Laevo exoskeleton and when worn, the chest pads push the body upright, reducing the strain on the back and consequent back pain. This potentially reduces the load on the back by up to 50%.

I tried on the exoskeleton at WTS2018. Fortunately there are no pictures, but I could very much feel the effect with only minimal adjustment. Admittedly it doesn’t look sleek and sexy but if I was picking up goods in a warehouse or working in a field, I’m not sure I’d be that bothered how it looks.

The Laevo exoskeleton is available now – expect to pay around 3,000 euros.


Hospital VR Experience for Children at Wearable Technology Show



It’s stressful enough as an adult to go into hospital for an operation or procedure. Much as you know it’s for your own good and the doctors are there for your benefit, hospitals are still unfamiliar territory for most people and there are machines which you’re not quite to sure what they do and whether the beeping noise is normal.

Imagine how much worse it is for children when they go into hospital: they’re already unwell and in pain, and now have to cope with strangers and scary machines. It’s all very intimidating – the child will be afraid and uncooperative.

To help with this, the team at JSC have developed a game-based VR experience for children where the child is taken through a medical procedure with the help of a friendly in-game character. The child gets a 1st person view, interacting with the characters and exploring the hospital in a fun way. The child sees it as a game and enjoys the experience, instead of being afraid.

When it comes to the real thing, the VR pre-experience increases the success of the procedure, reduces the child’s stress and anxiety, and increases the active participation of the child. Currently the medical procedures include injections, blood-taking, x-ray, anaesthesia and surgery.

JSC is a South Korean company and the interview at the Wearable Technology Show took place with the assistance of a translator. I spoke with SeHwan Lee, JSC’s Chief Business Development Officer, but it’s the translator’s voice in the interview.


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.


Silver Threads from Statex at Wearable Technology Show



At the Wearable Technology Show, there were many vendors demonstrating clothing with built-in sensors and lights – I think there was even one with a Raspberry Pi tucked away in the lining. All of them have the problem of how to get power from a battery pack to the electronics and one solution is to use a conducting thread or yarn. Statex have a silver-based yarn which can be woven or embroidered into a cloth to make a circuit. The silver and polyamide mix gives a balance of lightweight and elasticity while still conducting electricity. I discuss the practicalities of silver threads with Robert from Statex.

Statex were demonstrating the properties of the silver yarn with a small keyboard that was embroidered into a cloth along with a small circuitboard to produce the tones and flash some lights. It’s not a baby grand piano, but it’s lots of fun and shows off the potential. They were embroidering some of them at a nearby stand and I’m sorry I didn’t snaffle one!

Statex is a world-wide leader in the silver-coated fabrics industry. The company has successful developed silver-based yarns, textiles, bandages and carpets which provide a range of benefits from electrical conductivity and RF shielding to anti-bacterial and fungicidal properties.