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Archive for the ‘Wearables’ Category

One of Black Mirror’s favorite things to do is imagine a world that is heavily influenced by a singular piece of technology.  We’ve seen episodes centered around virtual reality headsets, neural implants that manipulate perceptions of reality, a Google Glass like device that monitors everything you do, and multiple methods of extracting and downloading one’s consciousness.

Most of these technologies remain firmly in the domain of science fiction but there is one area that we are making significant headway in and that’s in relation to creating Augmented Reality devices.  Apple is even said to be investing heavily in this area.  So, suffice it to say, when it comes to AR it’s a matter of when, not if, the technology goes mainstream and starts to dominate our lives the way that desktop computers and mobile phones already have.

One such device that could catch on and go mainstream are the Rokid Vision specs.  A heads up display capable of overlaying relevant information on top of the physical world, in a way that may be able to trick the mind into thinking that what it is seeing is real.

According to New Atlas, “Rokid calls the device Mixed Reality (MR), a term that Microsoft also likes, but which a lot of other people term AR – digital elements superimposed on the real world, but in such a way that they feel part of the physical scene.

Whatever the terminology, the Rokid Vision specs have an impressive number of potential uses. Plug them into your phone and attach a keyboard, for example, and you can have a huge gallery of floating apps in front of your face – no desktop monitor required.

Gaming is another area where the Rokid Vision is looking to impress, creating AR worlds that can be controlled and interacted with, along with friends. 3D elements can be pulled out of webpages, movies can be shown on giant virtual screens, walking directions can be overlaid on top of the road ahead of a user, and so on.”

The cool thing about this device is that it can be powered by a myriad of devices such as a phone, laptop, or gaming console.  In theory, no matter where you are (at home, in the office, or on the go) or what you’re doing (surfing the web, gaming, or conducting business) you’ll be able to do it in a much cooler way than previously possible so long as you have your specs with you.

All in all, how AR alters our society remains to be seen but one thing is certain: change is coming.

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Are the Rokid Vision Specs the Greatest Idea Ever?

 

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There are a lot of ways that you can go about monitoring your health to make sure that you stay fit.  You can weigh yourself, monitor your blood pressure, or use a fitness tracker to track your steps and heart rate but at the end of the day you probably still wouldn’t have a complete picture of your health.  For that you would need the Aura Band.

As the Daily Caller explains, “The body is divided into four main components, which includes fat, muscle mass, minerals, and body water. The Aura Band Smart Fitness Tracker will tell you exactly how much of each component is present in your body. From all the measurements, this fitness tracker can calculate your hydration level, fat percentage, and muscle percentage. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Aura Band is your one-stop shop for monitoring sleep efficiency and stress levels as well.”

But that’s not all.

According to Mashable, “Using the health data it collects and analyzes, the AURA will also make personalized recommendations based on your specific goals. And guess what? Once you meet said goals, you’ll be rewarded with coins that can be redeemed for free attire, workouts, health consultations, and more…”

One stop-shop indeed.

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Is the Aura Band the Greatest Idea Ever?

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#1,452 – The Wave

If you’re anything like me you may be waging a constant war against yourself, your loved ones, your co-workers, and society itself.  The war for control of your body temperature.  First you’re hot, then you’re cold, then you’re hot again.  You’re wearing a sweater in the summertime because your office air conditioning unit is on too high.  You’re wearing shorts in the winter because your apartment’s space heater works a little bit too well or not at all.  Layers are your best friend.  Your actual best friends are your worst enemies if they dare mess with the thermostat.

Thankfully, there may be a solution on the way.  A wearable device capable of regulating your body temperature.  Well, sort of.

As Wired puts it, “The Wave doesn’t change your core temperature. It’s all about perception. Think of warming your hands over a fire on a cold day. You know you’re not doing much to actually heat up your body, but it makes you feel disproportionately warm all over. That’s because in cold conditions, the local temperature of your hands and feet dictate how comfortable you feel, says Dr. Hui Zhang, a research scientist at UC Berkeley’s Center of the Build Environment. It was her research the Embr Labs’ founders discovered back in 2013 and which inspired the Wave prototype. If your hands or feet are cold, your whole body will feel cold, so Zhang says warming them up first is the fastest way to feel warm. In warm conditions, cooling the head is the most effective spot, but it would be awkward to mount a device there. The next-best spot for cooling: the wrist.”

That’s because the wrist contains, “a high density of temperature-sensitive nerve endings, called thermoreceptors, that are highly responsive to any temperature change.”

All in all, the best part about The Wave is how quickly it works.  “After three minutes of cooling, testers averaged feeling 5.8 degrees cooler; after three minutes of heating, they averaged feeling 4.6 degrees warmer.”

This is great news for women who on average typically prefer temperatures that are five degrees warmer than men.

So far, wearables haven’t really caught on but one as practical as The Wave could change all that.  Ending the internal wars that we all wage with ourselves once and for all.

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Is The Wave the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The new Apple Watch Series 4 is so advanced, it can even detect if you’re about to have a heart attack.  But even the best smart watch is still limited by the fact that it’s still just a watch.  A technology that rigidly wraps around your wrist and may be uncomfortable to sleep in or wear 24/7.

Thankfully, there’s a new wearable device on the way that’s thinner than a piece of cardboard and looks more like a band-aid than a watch.  It’s so thin, in fact, that it more closely resembles skin than jewelry.  Which means that you’ll be able to keep it on your person at all times.

As Inverse explains, “this device really breaks ground is in the way it’s powered. This team was able to implant tiny organic solar cells on the device that can convert light into electricity. The idea was to create a self-sustaining wearable that never has to be taken off.”

Incredibly, this isn’t the only new “skin” currently being developed.  There’s also a synthetic skin being created for use with prosthetic limbs that’s so sensitive that it could replicate or even surpass our natural sense of touch.

According to Futurism, “Tests shows that the skin can sense extremely subtle pressure, such as a blowing breeze, dripping water, or crawling ants. In some cases, the synthetic skin responded to pressures so gentle that natural human skin wouldn’t be able to detect them.”

The only issue left to figure out is how to take the data being generated by this synthetic skin and get it fed into the nervous system.  A hurdle that scientists in other fields are likely to clear in the near future.  For now we’ll just have to be satisfied with the knowledge that we’re on the cusp of tremendous breakthroughs capable of changing our lives for the better.  In more ways than one.

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Is a wearable that feels like skin the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The other day I was shopping at the mall where I was bombarded by helpful employees in one particular store.  To the point where it was annoying.  There’s only so many times you can hear, “Can I help you find something?”, “Do you need any assistance?”, “Just let me know if you need anything.”, etc. before you want to kill yourself.

Their relentless attack of courtesies got me thinking: what if there was a simple way that you could tell people whether or not it’s okay to talk to you?  Think of it like the go/stop button that you receive when dining at a Fogo de Chao all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse.  Place your button so that green is facing up and you’ll be treated to a non-stop parade of steak wrapped in bacon, chicken wrapped in bacon, bacon wrapped in bacon, and anything else that they serve wrapped in bacon.  Sit the button so that red is facing up and you’ll be left alone to actually eat all the bacon covered food you just accumulated.

Similarly, I think that a simple go/stop wearable device or smart watch app would work wonders.  You wouldn’t necessarily need to wear this device all the time, just when you were going out into a public place where talking to you may need some clarification.  For instance, when shopping in a mall you can indicate whether or not you need assistance.  When dining you can indicate when you are ready to order or when you want to talk in private to your dining companions.  When hiking you can indicate whether you want to be left alone or if you are feeling friendly and willing to strike up conversations with fellow hikers.  And just think about how much parents would love this device.  Just set it to red and your kids will know that it’s Mommy’s quiet time and not to bother you.

Such a device would not only improve the life of the person wearing the device who will no longer be harassed by store clerks, but it will also make things easier for those around them. For instance, there are plenty of times when I’m on a hike and in need of a favor from someone else.  Someone to take a picture of me or someone to help me find my way.  If several people are around it can sometimes be problematic trying to figure out who to ask.  A quick glance to find out who is willing to help and who wants to be left alone would be much appreciated.  By all parties.

Of course people might abuse this technology.  Might just set their device to red all of the time so that nobody ever bothers them.  A quick glance at a New York city subway car during rush hour will probably be a sea of red.  But at the end of the day that’s okay too.  There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of peace and quiet.

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Is a Do Not Disturb wearable the Greatest Idea Ever?

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The Quantified Self Movement is in full swing as more and more people don wearables that track their footsteps and other vital signs.  That’s all well and good as they motivate us to get up and move around.  But what if we were to take the idea of a wearable one step further?  What if we all had wearables inside of us to track our progress from within?!?! Thanks to a new “FitBit for the stomach” that future may soon be possible.

According to The Week, “These so-called ‘conformable decoders’ are packaged inside a pill and swallowed by a patient…The pill dissolves, and an embedded device latches to the stomach lining. It can then start transmitting messages, revealing how your stomach behaves when you’re stressed, eating, or sleeping.

The device powers itself on heartbeats and other organ movements using a form of electrical energy Pierre Curie first discovered in the 1800s. And since it conforms to the stomach wall, the decoder can likely stay in the body indefinitely…Eventually, it could be used to diagnose gastrointestinal issues.”

If this conformable decoders prove to be comfortable and helpful could we soon find ourselves carrying around several of them throughout our bodies, to track how all of our various systems are working?  Could we have one that monitors our brains or one that monitors our immune system?!?

I’m not entirely sure.  But one thing is clear though.  When it comes to wearables we may be getting more than we bargained for.  Even if no one will notice that we have them.

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Is a FitBit for the stomach the Greatest Idea Ever?

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To be honest I’m not a big fan of tattoos.  I can appreciate the artistic aesthetic they provide but I have no interest in dating someone who has them and no desire to get one myself.  I don’t even like Henna, face painting, or getting my hand stamped at a bar.  However, all that may be about to change thanks to Everence, better known as DNA tattoos.

As the New York Times puts it, “It is about as biologically intimate as one can get. Everence is a powdery substance synthesized from a sample of DNA, something as simple as a few thousand cells from a swab of a person’s inner cheek, or from cremated ashes. A small vial of Everence can be brought to a tattoo artist and added to any type of inks.  The result: A tattoo imbued with the DNA of another human being — or, if you prefer, a dog, cat or other furry friend.”

Some people may find this concept a little bit creepy and there’s really no denying the weirdness that surrounds it, but at the same time, the idea has a lot of merit.  For instance, just look at the mental health benefits for those mourning the loss of a loved one.  Every time they look at the tattoo they’ll be reminded of the person they loved and they’ll be comforted by the fact that they’ll always have a piece of their dearly departed with them.  It would also make for a powerful gesture for those in active relationships.  Instead of just getting standard run of the mill matching tattoos, couples could now get tattoos imbued with each other’s DNA.

But that’s not the only tattoo related breakthrough making headlines.  In fact, there’s one even crazier.  The idea of using tattoos as living computers.

According to Inverse, “In a research paper published in Advanced Materials, Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have figured out a way to 3D-print specially designed cells into flat designs, like the tattoo above, and into 3D structures. It’s a technique they believe could possibly be used to create a ‘living computer,’ or a structure made up of living cells that can do the stuff your laptop can.”

How exactly would this process work though?!?

“Instead of the plastics or nylon usually used for 3D printing, the team used modified bacteria that are able to withstand the process of being squeezed out of a nozzle. Some of the cells were programmed with the ability to send signals to other cells, so that the entire 3D-printed design can respond as one when it comes into contact with certain chemicals.”

These biological tattoo computers might then be used to produce drugs and deliver them to a targeted part of the body.  Or perhaps one they could enable us to communicate with one another or give us access to secure areas just like how our modern devices do.  Just in a much cooler way.

Either way it’s becoming increasingly clear that I just might need to rethink my stance on tattoos.  Between Everence, biological tattoo computers, health monitoring tattoos, and hidden underskin tattoos, there may be no escaping them.  And that could be a good thing.

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Is Everence the Greatest Idea Ever?

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