Archive for the ‘Wearables’ Category

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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I may have been the only person at the Consumer Electronics Show who wasn’t interested in the electronics.  Rows and rows of 4K TVs, Virtual Reality headsets, wearable fitness trackers, drones, widgets, whatever.  Eventually, the novelty wears off.  However, occasionally you stumble across a new idea, a unique idea, that showcases modern ingenuity and gives us a glimpse into what the future may look like.

Some of these ideas may involve new technologies.  Others may be throwbacks to a bygone era.  Some of them may be extremely useful.  Others not so much.  Some may appeal to a broad segment of the population.  Others to just a niche audience.  Either way, these ideas were what truly piqued my interest inside the hallowed halls of Eureka Park.  The innovative, outside the box concepts that really stood out from the crowd because of how unique they were.

Such as:

Modobag Every weary traveler knows how much of a hassle lugging a suitcase around an airport can be.  Especially when you consider how large some airports are these days with their never ending corridors and abundance of gates.  Thankfully, there may soon be a solution in the form of motorized smart luggage, known as Modobag, that you can ride to your destination.

As Digital Trends puts it, “Modobag can be used as a traditional wheeled bag — just extend the handle and pull it along on its wheels. When that Superman moment hits and you need to travel fast, you can quickly lower the bag into its riding position, jump on the built-in seating area and hit the throttle to go.”

Presumably a person equipped with a motorized suitcase would experience that Superman moment all the time.  After all, would you really want to go back to the old way of pulling a suitcase if you could now ride one?

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Freewrite – Think of Freewrite as a smart typewriter.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Isn’t a computer a smart typewriter?  Well, yes.  The key distinction to make is that Freewrite is only a typewriter.  You can’t play games on it or surf the web.  There are no apps.  It’s designed purely as a distraction free writing experience.

What makes the device smart is that you can download files to it and upload what you write to Dropbox or Evernote when you’re done.  It can also store up to a million pages internally and connect to the cloud via Wi-Fi.  All in all, it claims to be able to double your daily word count which could be an invaluable time saver if you’re a writer under deadline.

As Wired puts it, “At a time when our gadgets are supposed to do everything, the Freewrite may seem like a technological step backward. For most people, the prospect of spending hundreds of dollars on a throwback device seems foolish. But if you’re a writer, you probably get it. Writers are a sensitive lot; it’s why they move to remote cabins. With all the distractions on the Internet, sometimes it’s hard to exercise self-control. Exhibit A? All those open browser tabs. They make writing on a web-connected laptop as easy as trying to meditate in a casino.”

The minimalist design of the Freewrite aims to change that and give control of the writing process back to the writer.

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Tap Cards – Think of Tap Cards as smart post cards. Instead of just being a static piece of card stock, Tap Cards are dynamic gateways.  Let’s say for instance that you’re about to get married.  You may want to send a save the date card to your guests.  Using Tap Cards you can do just that.  Your guests will receive a card in the mail featuring a photo that you selected. But here’s where things gets interesting.  If your guest then taps the postcard to their phone the Tap Card app will automatically launch showing them your entire photo album of pictures.  They didn’t need to download anything or go to a special website.  All they had to do was touch the card to their phone.  If you then add or delete photos from your collection all of the albums on your guests phones will then get updated in real time too.

With Tap Cards it just got a whole lot easier to share pictures.  Instead of uploading entire albums to Facebook just send your friends a card the next time you’re on vacation and they can live vicariously through all of your exploits.  I like this idea so much that I think I may use it to send out my holiday cards next year.  Anyone I send one to will then have access to an album of my greatest sunset pictures from Instagram.

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Nemonic Post-It Note Printer – Post-It notes haven’t really changed much since they were first invented.  Sure, they come in different shapes, sizes, and colors but by in large what you see is what you get.  All that may be about to change though thanks to the Nemonic Post-It Note Printer from Mangoslab.

As Digital Trends puts it, “Nemonic features a notetaking app which you jot down and organize handwritten or finger-drawn notes. But Mangoslab wants to take it a step further by including a companion printer to print these notes and stick them anywhere just like a traditional Post-it note. This way you’re not losing that analog feel of a handwritten note.”

For people with bad handwriting having a post-it note printer could come in handy.  Or it could be useful if you wanted to print out something that you couldn’t easily write or draw such as an image or chart.  For example, if you’re a traveler if could be useful to have one of these devices on your desk so that you print out a bus schedule on the go.  Or if you wanted to cover your refrigerator with selfies that’s an option too.

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KanopyUnless you’re the type of person who likes to spend their free time pruning a Bonsai tree you probably struggle to keep the plant in your home or office alive.  Fortunately, Kanopy is here to help with the mundane task of watering your plant by constantly measuring its weight and automatically hydrating it as needed.

Conversely, if you have a green thumb and really do prefer to water plants on your own you can still use Kanopy’s system to monitor your plant as it will alert you when it’s time to water it.  No word yet if future iterations will also talk to your plant for you.

PavlokBite your nails like LeBron James?  Can’t stop smoking?  Have other bad habits that you want to kick?  Then you might want to try Pavlok, a wearable device that will vibrate or buzz or beep or even shock you until your get the clue and change your ways.

As TechCrunch put it a few years ago when the product first surfaced, “Pavlov and his dogs proved conditioning shapes behavior patterns. A hundred years later, a startup called Pavlok hopes the same theory and its electroshock wristband will make us exercise, wake up on time, and stop procrastinating.  [The] app lets you set up goals like hitting the gym or avoiding social media sites, and then its wristband electrically shocks you when you screw up. Brutal, but potentially effective.”

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Spalk Have you ever been so annoyed by a play by play announcer telecasting a game that you found the game to be unwatchable?  Anyone who has ever listened to Joe Buck probably knows what I’m talking about.  As a workaround you may watch the game on mute, listen to it on the radio, or go to a crowded bar where you can’t hear the volume on the TV.  Apps like MLB TV have a workaround for this inconvenience allowing you to select whether you want to listen to the home or away feed.

But what if you wanted additional options?  What if you preferred, for example, to listen to your friends do play by play?  Or do to it yourself? Spalk, which bills itself as crowd sourced sports commentary, offers the opportunity to do just that, enabling you to add synchronized audio to live sports events.

The big issue for Spalk is going to be securing broadcast rights from the major sports leagues.  If they can manage to work out a partnership with MLB though I’d be all for it as it would allow me live out my life-long dream of becoming a broadcaster for the New York Yankees!  This is one startup that I will definitely be rooting for.


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Are any of these ideas from Eureka Park the Greatest Idea Ever?


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Back in July of 2015 I wrote about a new invention known as the Here Active Listening System, the latest example of a “hearable” – a device capable of letting us edit the sounds that we encounter.  A sort of auditory augmented reality.  So that you could, say, drown out the sound of a crying baby on an airplane but still hear any important announcements that were made.  Or turn up the bass at a concert if you were so inclined.

Here’s what I had to say about it at the time:

“The idea that this technology could be used to alter what is heard at a concert is really intriguing and it could change the way movies and music are made as we may get to the point where we’d have fully customizable content being delivered right to us.  Turning all of us into amateur music composers able to edit the soundtrack of our lives on the fly.

As someone who is really sensitive to loud noises (I can’t even wear a watch because of the ticking) and who constantly wishes that there was an alternative to most of the sounds that I encounter on a daily basis (birds chirping, cars driving by, people breathing) this product can’t come soon enough.”

Well, now this product is finally here.  Known as Here One it is now on sale for $300, making it the perfect gift for the audiophile in your life.  Here is some of what these wireless earbuds are capable of doing from their website:

“Here One™ is the first all-in-one, truly wireless listening system. With two smart earbuds and a connected app, you can stream music, take phone calls, reduce unwanted noise, amplify speech, access Siri and Google Now, and more. Selectively choose what you want to hear and remove what you don’t using Smart Noise Cancellation. Everything else is just a headphone.”

The ultimate appeal of Here One, however, is not in what it can do, but rather, in what it will one day be capable of doing.  As a Tech Crunch reporter wrote, “The craziest thing I got to demo involved isolating directional noise. With multiple people talking around me, the Here Ones focused on who was speaking directly in front of me, presenting them clearly while the others were muffled.”

This technology would really come in handy in my household where my mom is constantly telling my step dad to stop trying to chime in on the conversation that she is having with me because she can’t talk to two people at once.

Another futuristic use case that could come in handy one day is a language translation feature.  When someone speaks to you in their native tongue you’ll hear it in your native tongue.  Making Here One the ultimate travel companion.

For now though we’ll just have to settle for what Here One can actually do.  Like drowning out the sounds that we don’t want to hear.  But even that sounds futuristic as a companion app promises to learn what we like and don’t like so that it can offer recommendations of what else to drown out.

With so much potential to improve our daily lives it’s clear to me that Here One is here to stay.  If you’re an early adopter you may want to get on board now.

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Is Here One the Greatest Idea Ever?

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We all know how important it is to stay hydrated.  How we’re supposed to be drinking 8 glasses of water a day.  But what we usually don’t know is how hydrated we are at any given moment.  Relying on our biological inputs isn’t good enough.  Wait until your thirsty before you drink something and it’s already too late, you’re already dehydrated at that point.  So what’s a guy to do? Buy a new wearable device of course.  In this case, the LVL.

As Digital Trends puts it:

“You probably heard this biological factoid in fifth grade health class: two-thirds of the human body is made of water. What you probably weren’t told, though, is just how drastically water could impact your morning, daily, and nightly routine. Your physical fitness depends on hydration, as does the quality of your sleep. Even the clarity of your thoughts and the stability of your moods are affected, in part, by your body’s water content at any given moment.

But measuring your body’s hydration is no cakewalk. ‘Smart’ water bottles can tell you how many ounces of liquid you’ve consumed in the course of a few hours, but not how much your body has actually absorbed — that level of granularity usually requires a trip to a medical lab or emergency room. But that’s poised to change. Recently, health startup BSX Technologies debuted the LVL, a wearable that promises to measure hydration in real time.”

What’s great about the LVL is that it does more than just monitor hydration.  It also tracks your mood, activity, sleep, and heart rate, things that are, not coincidentally, all tied to how hydrated you are.

With a clearer picture of your health you will be armed with vital information, information that you can use to improve your vitality.  It sounds simple but just by staying hydrated you’ll be improving your cognitive function, sleeping better, and feeling more energetic.  All in all, you’ll be having a better life.

With all that in mind it’s safe to say that getting the LVL is pretty much a no-brainer.  If you’re looking to give someone a healthy gift this year this is the way to go.

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Is the LVL hydration wearable the Greatest Idea Ever?

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