The Wearable Technology Show is back next week in London, UK, but sadly I’m not going to be able to attend this year. Co-located with both the AVR360 and Digital Health Tech shows, it’s a great event to see some of the latest innovations from and for the UK market. Over 3,000 people will attend so it’s not CES, but it means there’s much better opportunities for conversation and networking.
I will be bringing some of the announcements from the show to GNC but here’s a sneak peak of some of the speakers, events and new products that will be on show at WTS2019.
On the technology front, there are over 200 speakers on the conference programme with representatives from McLaren Applied Technologies – they’re putting F1 tech into other industries, GB Boxing – who are using wearables to improve safety for their athletes, and Sky Sports – who want to provide more information to their viewers about their favourite teams as they play.
From the health perspective, there’s a couple of big guns, as it were, with both the Health Secretary, Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock, MP, and former Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, speaking at the event. I imagine there’s quite a technology contrast between their residencies in Health, with Patricia Hewitt leaving the role in in 2007.
On the show floor there are 50 exhibitors from 15 countries and a few new products have been pre-announced.
Limbic – the world’s first emotion-detection AI for consumer wearables. This AI detects human emotions from heartbeat data, using an algorithm that seeks to bring quantifiability to mental health. Interesting…
Thermal Senz by LifeBooster. A new solution that allows users to detect the early indicators of heat-related illnesses like hypothermia and heat stroke.
Pulse Ox by Oxitone. The world’s first FDA-cleared wrist sensor and AI-based Continuous Care platform, enabling wearable hospital-grade continuous monitoring with predictive capabilities, creating better patient solutions.
HP1T by HP1 Technologies. This graphene pressure sensor for sports and leisure helmets can detect impact time, location and magnitude, to enable better outcomes for the wearer. It was originally designed to capture brain injury data in cycling incidents but has applicability across a wide range of sectors from sports & leisure, to emergency services and manufacturing.
I’m looking forward to seeing what else will be announced at WTS2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.