Tag Archives: Wearable Technology Show

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.


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.


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.