Category Archives: wearable

Fitbit Announces New Models and Drops Old Ones



Fitbit has announced a handful of new wrist-worn trackers; the Versa Lite, the Inspire, the Inspire HR, and finally for kids, the Ace 2.

The Versa Lite is available now for GB£150 with a choice of four different colours – white, lilac, marina blue and magenta – and differs from the more expensive Versa by dropping a few features. Missing from the Lite are floors climbed, swim lap tracking, on-screen workouts and music player functionality. Personally, I’d miss the swim lap tracking but if you’re more of track and field person, the Lite version might save you £50. It’s still water-resistant to 50m, so good for surface swimming, and the Versa Lite will go four days between charges.

The Inspire and Inspire HR slot into the lower end of the Fitbit line-up, replacing both the Alta and Flex product lines. Priced at £70 and £90 respectively, the key difference between the two is that the HR has constant heart rate monitoring. Both devices do activity and sleep tracking, calories burned and connect to your smartphone for notifications, but if you want heart rate measurement and sleep cycle tracking, you’ll need the HR and an extra £20. Battery life is around five days for both devices and they’re water-resistant to 50m.

For children, Fitbit have the Ace 2, which will be coming out later in the year. Building the original Ace, the new version even more child-friendly but still does all the usual activity-tracking stuff with a touchscreen that can be customised with new faces. As with the Ace, the tracker becomes part of a family group so parents can monitor their little darling’s activity. 50m water-resistance and five day battery life. Price hasn’t been announced, but the current Ace is £80 so expect something similar.

Sadly, it looks like the Fitbit Zip has followed the One into obsolescence as neither are now available in the UK store. Mind you, the Zip’s had pretty good run (sorry) for a gadget, originally coming out in 2012.

And by pure coincidence, I’ve been notified today by my Fitbit app that I’ve got the Earth badge, which is equivalent to 12,713 lifetime kilometres.


The Wearable Technology Show is Back



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.


Oaxis Combines Fitness Tracker with Analogue Watch



That spot on your wrist is in high demand at the moment. From Apple Watches to smart watches, retro digital and vintage automatics, they all want in on that skin real estate. Personally, I still like a watch with hands to tell me that I’m late but I do like step counting and heart rate monitoring too. Consequently, I tend to swap what’s on my wrist depending on activity: it’s not ideal but works for me…mostly.

There might be an improved solution to my problem with a new watch launching on Kickstarter by epaper experts Oaxis. iPhone owners might know the company for their InkCase which provides a second epaper screen on the back of the phone. In this instance, Oaxis are crowd-funding Timepiece, a minimalist analogue watch with an embedded fitness tracker than displays data in a small OLED display in the dial.

The watch uses a Swiss quartz movement from Ronda and the fitness tracker records heart rate, steps, sleep and call / text notifications. As you’d expect, there’s a complementary app to get the data off the watch with Bluetooth. The info only mentions an iOS app, so you might want to confirm there’s going to be an Android app too.

There’s a range of combinations of case, strap and size, with both 38 mm and 41 mm cases. The black dial with red hands looks particularly good but the white dial looks classy too. I’m not sure if its just the lighting but sometimes the white dial has black hands and sometimes they’re silver. Case is a little over 12 mm thick.

And unlike certain other smartwatches, Timepiece will last a month on a single charge – charging is done via a small dock. One of the other cool features is that the time can be set via a Bluetooth connected smartwatch.

The watch is waterproof to 30 m, which means that it’s ok for a bit of light swimming.

If you like the look of this, head over to the Kickstarter campaign. Early birds can get in for US$123, GB£95 or €110.

Delivery is expected in March 2019 and as with all things crowd-funding, don’t pay what you can’t afford to loose.

 


Activinsights Measures Health at Wearable Technology Show



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.


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.


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.