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Technology gets skintight

Priyanka Joshi 

Several technologies and gadgets have slowly crept out from our living rooms to work desks, then from desktops to our hands and now to our bodies. We are not talking of digital watches and bigger smartphones. The market for wearable is getting bigger, claims IHS Global Insights. Last year, the market for wearable technology, hearing aids to wristband pedometers, totalled $9 billion. That should climb to $30 billion by 2018.

The first phase of wearable was when everyone around you could notice that odd-looking gadget on your face or on your wrist. The new wearable devices are designed to be in the background. Here are some of the smart ones:

Sensoria Smart Sock Fitness Tracker
SMART SOCKS
The Sensoria Smart Sock Fitness Tracker is a pair of washable socks, plus an anklet that snaps on the cuff of the sock (magnetically), and all of this talks to the user via a mobile app for iPhone or Android phones. The socks are equipped with special sensors that record the movements of the foot, providing information to the user. The socks are washable and users can't feel the embedded sensors.

These sensors will keep tabs on weight distribution and the form of foot during standing, walking and running, important for fitness enthusiasts to better their performance or share the information with medical practitioners in case of an injury.

We have seen Nike Fuelband, the Jaw Bone or the FitBit tracker that help record movements, but Sensoria insists it provides much better accuracy. In our review, we found the data from other fitness trackers was limited to how far and how fast the user was going, but Sensoria monitored how well the user was exercising. It can recommend workouts based on an individual's abilities.

Cost: $199 for pre-order of one Anklet + four pairs of Smart Socks + mobile app (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
Expected launch: March 15, 2014

THE RING
While most of the smartwear today is controlled by an app on your smartphone or tablet, NFC Ring requires none. It is based on Near Field Communication (NFC), a wireless that allows data to be shared between two NFC-enabled devices over very short distances. Though this technology has been around for a while, it's only recently that it has begun to show up in gadgets like newer Android smartphones, tablets, BlackBerry phones, Windows phones and portable speakers.

This ring has no battery and its outer side is fitted with a transmitter that is able to broadcast public information like user's webpages, social media profiles and personal details. The inner side stores private data, such as passwords. Using the ring, which can hold 144 bytes of data, you can exchange information with others having NFC devices or NFC gadgets, with just a swipe or a tap on the NFC-enabled device.

Cost: The base price is $34. Go to www.nfcring.com.

PYJAMAS TELL A STORY
iPads and smartphones have turned bedtime storytelling into a more interactive experience but it gets geekier with Smart PJs. These interactive pyjamas look like your average top and bottoms, are 100 per cent cotton, but are covered by green and blue dots. The dots are codes (like QR Codes, which inspired the creator) and, when scanned with the dedicated free app, show 45 unique bedtime stories. While the app does take away the storytelling bit from the parents (since it has audio), they can turn off the volume and encourage children to read the text on their own.

Cost: At $25, Smart PJs are available for one- to eight-year-old children in four different sizes. For orders, go to www.smartpjs.com.

THE BAG THAT PACKS IT ALL
Omnipack Backpack is for backpacks what the Swiss army knife is for knives. The top-end model of the Omnipack is with a 5,000-mAh lithium ion battery that can charge devices (up to two times), USB ports, LED lights, 3.1-watt speakers and 1.8-watt solar panel. The differently-colored LED lighting on the bag's strap and tail lights can be useful in the dark.

Cost: Mahnke Labs is taking pre-orders for the backpacks (three models) with prices starting at $99. Delivery is expected to start from January.

AIR PURIFIER
Clogged roads and smog prompted Alexandr Kostin to design a wearable air purifier, Hand Tree, a semi-finalist in the Electrolux Design Lab competition. Working on the principle of plants, Hand Tree absorbs smoke, pollution, dust and other harmful gases and breathes out cleaner air, creating its own atmosphere around a person. It consists of a carbon air filter, rechargeable battery, OLED display, and bioplastic shell exterior.

The touch-based display allows user to choose modes and see time. The purifier can focus air either towards or away from the body. There is an option of adding a cartridge of perfume. A logo on the display changes colour depending on the condition of the filter and another light indicates the level of pollution.

Cost: The product is still in prototype stage, but is expected to be launched soon

First Published: Sun, November 03 2013. 23:38 IST
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