The British National Health Service (NHS) is often thought of as a single organisation but it’s more of a Hydra-esque organism made of many semi-autonomous agencies each with their area of expertise and sources of funding. Consequently, it can be hard for entrepreneurs and startups to engage with the NHS – where do you start? I chat with Rose from Digital Health London, a programme aiming to speed up the development and scaling of digital innovations across health and care, and pioneer their adoption by the NHS…matching innovators with NHS need, and supporting them to navigate the UK health environment.
The Digital Health London accelerator programme works with small-to-medium companies to help these firms access NHS providers through an NHS Navigator. The Navigator is someone who has good understanding of how the NHS works and is funded, and can guide the company to make the right contacts.
The programme also provides guidance on how to work within healthcare, such as running clinic trials, patient safety and handling confidential information. Hopefully these startups can avoid some of the pitfalls seen recently with some of the larger social media companies!
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.
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.
Kicking off GNC’s coverage of the Wearable Technology Show, I chat to Valentina of Nomi. Their bright backpack LED display keeps cyclists safe while doubling up as a mobile billboard. The Nomi uses GPS to locate the cyclist and then show adverts relevant to the local area, with the rider earning a small commission from the advertiser.
Alternatively, the display can be programmed to show pictures or other information from, say, Twitter or Facebook.
The Nomi display is expected to come to market within a year and will be relatively inexpensive at around 30 euros.
It’s the Wearable Technology Show in London, England today and tomorrow, so GNC was in attendance to check out some of the latest developments in the space. I was last here in 2016, so it’s interesting to see what’s changed (and what hasn’t) in the last two years. The event isn’t anything like the size of CES and there are few household names, but there are plenty of entrepreneurs and startups. I’ll be posting full interviews later but for now, here’s a selection from day 1 (and 13,000 steps).
e-textiles were very much in evidence, with sensors and electronics embedding into fabrics by Nottingham Trent University.
There was a working fabric keyboard using silver based yarn from Statex.
Tinker Designs has developed a prototype smart shoe that incorporates artisan craft with modern electronics.
As expected, there were plenty of wrist-worn devices. WITgrip had a prototype wrist mount to hold a bigger screen in a more ergonomic position.
Laevo demonstrated an exoskeleton for workers who repeatedly have to bend over or kneel down. I tried it on and it works as advertised.
Also for workers is the ProGlove which incorporates a barcode scanner on the back of the glove to avoid repetitive picking up and putting down of scanners.
Returning to my interviews from this year’s Gadget Show Live and the Wearable Technology Show, I’m with Jeremy from Zappar. Their two dimensional Zapcodes generate a three dimensional augmented reality, bringing the printed page alive within the Zappar app.
A Zapcode is a printed symbol like the one on the right, which has 4 billion different combinations. It’s recognised by the Zappar app (available for Apple and Android) using the smartphone or tablet’s camera and then overlays animations and other content onto the real-world as seen through the camera. For example, a flat architect’s drawing shows a 3D model in the Zappar world or a comic book about planets whizzes with rockets and spinning worlds. Very cool.
Here’s what a Zappar augmented book looks like – the printed page is on the left with the app view on the right.
Here’s a quick demo of a building.
Zappar’s client list is impressive featuring brands like Asda, Coca-Cola, BBC Radio 1 and Mothercare. There are plenty of demo Zaps on the Zappar website, so download the app and try them out. The app works fine with computer screens so there’s no need to print anything out – just point the camera at the monitor.
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 apps, ANT+ 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.
Chinese medical technology firm Biolight have developed a ranged of personal medical devices for home use, including a blood pressure monitor, blood oximeter, wireless thermometer for babies and foetal monitor. Andrew finds out more from Jeff at the Wearable Technology Show.
Biolight’s range of personal medical devices very much shows the on-going consumerisation of medical devices. These units are colourful and friendly; very different from the often austere machines of the hospital and health centre. Perhaps the most impressive thing revealed in the interview is how relatively inexpensive the products are. Obviously the prices are trade with some of the devices only a few dollars but to think that a foetal heart rate monitor costs around US$60 is incredible. It will undoubtedly sell well at three times the price. Listening to your baby before its born whenever you want? That’s a killer piece of hardware.
Atheer‘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.
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.
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.