From belt-clipped pedometers to GPS-enabled tracking solutions on devices in our pockets, or even shoes, we are already living in the era of wearable technology. Wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth, Near Field Communications (NFC) and ad-hoc WiFi are a few examples of how we sport a personal grid within which our shoes can talk to our heart monitors and our smartphones can push Twitter updates to wristwatches or wristbands. However, many wearable technology ideas die a silent death in labs, mostly because their creators cannot figure out their commercial viability. Here’s a preview of some products that should get the geek in you excited.
A few weeks back Google announced its intentions to launch eyeglasses, titled Google Glass, that basically consist of a pair of glasses which is really a display screen for the wearer, along with an integrated camera and an in-built microphone. These Android-powered specs will connect to the web via 3G or 4G cellular networks. What the use of having an internet connected screen and camera on a pair of glasses? Instead of the smartphone or tablet PC that you have to use to search for information, users can now use Google Glass. Since there is no keyboard, the user simply speaks and the Google Glass interprets the voice commands and using the internet connection delivers results on display screen aka glass.
Google's project Glass team, in a demo, showed some real-life scenarios where the smart eyewear can be used. One such example was how a mother can capture pictures of her baby while wearing the Google Glass. Instead of having to reach for a camera, she could take a picture while holding the baby with both hands and simply speaking to her Google Glass to capture the image. In another demonstration, Google showed how athletes can wear Google Glass while skydiving, mountain biking or rappelling, and the device can capture the live video from athletes¨Glass without them having to hold anything in their hands (like a camera).
Though Google Glass is just a prototype at this point, it would be worth watching how Google melds the hardware and user interface resulting in a useful device. For now, the company is selling a prototype of the glasses to US computer programmers and developers willing to pay $1,500 for a pair of the glasses which they will receive by early next year.
Intelligent watches that sync with users?smartphones and check messages or monitor incoming calls, are not a new concept. Here’s how it feels to sport the Pebble smart-watch? For starters, it's a waterproof digital watch that connects to an iPhone or an Android phone, which none other smart-watches in market do. Second, smartphones are often stored in a purse or pocket. Pebble gives user the choice to glance at their wrist and see if the SMS is important enough to respond to immediately or whether they want to answer that call without having to take the phone out of your pocket or purse.
Pebble has 144x168 pixel E-Ink display (just like Kindle) and that also means reading text on this screen in bright light is much easier. It also has a built-in accelerometer and a vibrating alert. The Pebble watch can control the smartphone, receive alerts and text messages, and even work like a bike computer or a pedometer while exercising.
To fund its first production run, creators of Pebble watch sought the help of crowd-funding site Kickstarter, where people donate for worthy projects. The Pebble Kickstarter campaign went on to raise more than $10 million, far above its initial $1,00,000 goal. The Pebble watch is expected to retail at about $150.
Exmobaby smart garment
Gone are the days of the old-fashioned wireless baby monitors that transmit plain audio of your baby as they slept or squealed. Exmobaby smart garment works like a next generation baby monitor relaying every movement, heartbeat and temperature fluctuation wirelessly to your mobile phone, computer or tablet.
This one is fitted with non-contact ECG that can measure movement, skin temperature and moisture, sending the collected data to a device within a range of up to 100 feet. Aside from the three sensors and some elastic keeping them close to the child, the garment is completely washable, hypoallergenic, cotton, and comes in pink or blue options.
Definitely a step forward in wearable technology and medical monitoring devices, Exmobaby smart garment can be a big help to first-time parents or beneficial to monitor infants with medical conditions.
You can order Exmobaby apparel from company's website, and the prices start at $1000.
Probably the best wearable technology products are the ones that you can rely on, but don't have to remember to use. Nikeh Lunartr1+, sensor-embedded footwear, comes pretty close to this benchmark. The shoes track how hard, fast and often you train and sync it to a mobile app wirelessly. Using Nike+ technology sensors, which are embedded in the midsole, users record their exercise levels on phone and can even see an in-depth analysis of their performance.
Priced at $235, the shoes come with their own set of accessories, but are not a cheap buy for average fitness crazy or geeks
Smart garments for precision exercises
Designed by the Electricfoxy, Move is a wearable technology shirt intended for use during yoga (and other activities based on precise movements, like Pilates, baseball or golf) and is equipped with sensors that can tell when the movements are incorrect.
The garment includes four stretch and bend sensors located in the front, back and the sides. Together, they read your body's position and muscle movement, assess whether it is correct, and provide real-time feedback to correct it through haptic feedback components located in the hips and shoulders. The collected data is sent to a mobile app that allows to track performance, see areas of improvement and set goals on the types of movements you want to improve.
Move is an early concept and prototype claims the company and hasn't specified if it will be launched commercially soon.