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Archive for the ‘Wearables’ Category

Ideas come in all shapes and sizes.

Electric Chewing Gum – Japanese researchers are working on an electric chewing gum that will never lose its taste.  It’ll achieve this trick by hiding a tiny device inside of the gum that will shock a user’s mouth every time it’s chewed giving off the sensation of tasting something bitter or salty.  As you long you keep chewing you’ll keep tasting it.  The long-term idea is that the gum could be paired with Virtual Reality experiences to give users the immersive experience of actually being able to taste foods inside of virtual worlds.

Dark Power – There are a lot of things that we can harness power from.  The wind.  Flowing water.  The sun’s rays.  Not to mention splitting atoms and burning hydrocarbons.  But that hasn’t stopped one man, Electrical engineer Aaswath Raman from the University of California in Los Angeles, from thinking of yet another potential source of power: darkness.  That’s right.  It may soon be possible to harness electricity from a pitch black night sky.

Light Phone – Less is more.  That’s the idea behind the Light Phone.  A bare bones smart phone that removes all of the addicting, time-sucking distractions from your phone, leaving you with just the basics like calling and texting.  If your New Year’s Resolution is to take back control of your life this could help.

Photo Wake Up – Ever since I first saw photographs come to life and move about within the pages of The Daily Prophet in the Harry Potter series I’ve been fascinated by the possibility of one day being able to do that in real life as well.  Thankfully I may have finally gotten my wish thanks to a new technology on the horizon known as Photo Wake-Up, that brings static images to life, enabling photographed subjects to walk, run, sit and stand up, all in 3D!

Atomo  Molecular Coffee – I’m not a coffee drinker but even I can appreciate the greatness of this next idea: a way to create everyone’s favorite morning pick me up without using any beans!

According to The Spoon, “Seattle-based startup Atomo claims to bring you all the goodness of a cup of coffee — without the bean. Atomo’s so-called ‘molecular coffee’ is made by reverse engineering the flavor and aroma compounds in coffee beans to make a substance that, when brewed, tastes and caffeinates like java. It’s made with natural ingredients and can be brewed one-to-one for coffee in French presses, refillable K-cups, pour-overs, etc.”

Molecular Surgery –  In addition to molecular coffee, java made without the use of any coffee beans, we may one day have molecular surgery, non-invasive procedures that don’t involve any incisions, cutting, or scarring, with the desired results being achieved via a process that reshapes tissue to make it more malleable.  Proving that when it comes to healthcare brute force hacks aren’t always the best option.

Neom – Saudi Arabia is said to be planning a large-scale futuristic city in the desert that will be the size of Massachusetts and feature all kinds of quirky technological wonders.  Among the technologies currently being considered are flying taxis, driverless cars, an artificial moon to illuminate the night sky, cloud seeding technology to control the weather, and holographic teachers to create a world-class education system. But of course no futuristic city would be complete without a Jurassic Park-like island populated by robotic dinosaurs!!

Synchron – Thanks to Elon Musk’s Neuralink and Bryan Johnson’s Kernal it’s becoming increasingly likely that humans may be able to augment their intelligence with brain implants that would bring Iain M. Banks’ fictional neural laces to fruition.  However, to get such augmented intelligence one may have to risk going through invasive brain surgery as wires and computer chips get inserted into their skulls.  Thanks but no thanks.  However, there may be another non-invasive way to obtain this new technology via Synchron’s approach to insert materials through the jugular vein instead.

Rokid Vision Specs – Magic Leap hasn’t yet succeeded but that’s okay because the Rokid Vision Specs may be able to take its place for this heads up display is 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.  Forget about Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality.  The future may be all about Mixed Reality.

Promethean AI – This is a new AI program that would let anyone become a game developer, no formal training required.  All you’d have to do is type your instructions into the interface, such as “create a bedroom”, or “add a couch”, and the AI will do all the heavy lifting for you.  And while rendering a bedroom is a far cry from creating an entire game world, it still goes to show how quickly the technology is developing and how easy it’s becoming to build a game or any virtual world for that matter.

Halo Sport 2 – The new Halo Sport 2 from Halo Neuroscience has the potential to change the world by dramatically improving human capabilities, enabling us to achieve peak performance whether we’re working out or learning a new skill.  That is, so long as you don’t mind wearing a device designed to shock your brain into working harder.

Project Alias – Most people who have an Amazon Echo speaker absolutely love them.  But they’re also a little bit wary of them, of the fact that because they’re always on, always listening in case we need them, that they’re also always spying on us.  Thankfully, there’s a technological solution on the way that can help us navigate this troubling paradox.  And it’s a solution with its roots in biology.

As Fast Company puts it, “Project Alias is the technological equivalent to parasitic fungus. But instead of latching onto an insect, it latches onto a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device–taking control of their strengths for its own purposes…It effectively deafens the home assistant when you don’t want it listening, and brings it to life when you do.”

The Replicator – When I first heard about 3D printing I thought the technology was an inevitability, a foregone conclusion that would soon take its rightful place in our homes alongside our refrigerators, coffee pots, toasters, and washing machines as an appliance that we just can’t live without.  But that never happened.  They were too costly, too slow, and too impractical.  Why go through all the trouble of printing an item when it’s quicker just to order it on Amazon.

But I always held out hope 3D printing would eventually catch on once a few breakthroughs occurred that would enable objects to be printed in the blink of an eye.  Once the logistics caught up to our expectations.  And now that day has come thanks to the Star Trek inspired Replicator, a new kind of printer that uses light to do its heavy lifting.

The Wave Wearable – 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.  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 wrist worn wearable device capable of regulating your body temperature by heating up or cooling down your hands and in turn the rest of your body.

Targeted Audio – We all learned growing up that it was rude to share secrets but the time may have come to rethink our stance as secrets may soon be the coolest thing around.  The change in heart coming on account of the fact that MIT has invented a way to deliver a targeted message to someone that only the recipient can hear.  Using lasers!

Autofocals – Researchers at Stanford University have created smart glasses that track your eyes and automatically focus on whatever you’re looking at. As someone who wears glasses am I particularly interested in watching this story develop.

Zao – The rise of Deep Fakes is troubling for personal and political reasons but it also opens the door to a host of new entertainment possibilities which is where Zao comes in, giving the people the ability to insert their likeness into movie clips.  From battling Thanos alongside the Avengers to romancing your celebrity crush in a romantic comedy, Zao gives you the ability to act out your wildest film fantasies.

Elevate – We still don’t have flying cars but we may soon have cars that can walk.  That’s the idea behind Elevate, a car capable of expanding or “elevating” in order to walk up sidewalks and pick up passengers from inside their homes.

Bye Bye Camera – This game-changing app can digitally remove people from your photos after the fact.  No more waiting on lines until people move out the way of the object of your affection.  No more getting photobombed.  Just point and click and move on with your life as quickly as possible in pursuit of an even more perfect photo somewhere else.

Robotic Shorts – Load bearing exo-suits that help people carry excess weight will likely have a place in society in the near future.  Most likely in factories or on battle fields as a means of transporting supplies.  That much is obvious.  What’s not so obvious is the idea that the average person may soon be utilizing them as well.  And yet that’s exactly what may happen thanks to newly designed robotic shorts that can help people cover more ground when running, walking, or hiking by reducing the metabolic costs associated with these activities and making them feel 12-16 pounds lighter. 

Reprogrammable Ink – In the future you won’t have to apply a new coat of paint to your car or buy different shoes for different outfits.  Instead you’ll be able to simply change their color at will thanks to a newly designed color changing spray created by MIT.  To change colors all you’d have to is apply a UV light to the object for a few minutes.

Smart Nora – This three piece system automatically moves your pillow while you’re sleeping to stop you from snoring.  A game-changer for anyone who has to sleep in the same room with someone who snores!

Mosquito Repelling Clothing – The wonder material Graphene is at it again as it can now be used to create a line of clothing that would deter mosquitoes. It does this as it is somehow capable of disturbing the chemical signals that draw mosquitoes to people in the first place.

ClearUp – I’m hesitant to call them migraines but I do get bad headaches.  On a daily basis no less.  The likely culprit: sinus pressure. An often overlooked ailment that is responsible for ruining people’s lives with infections, colds, and allergies along with the aforementioned debilitating headaches.  Thankfully, there’s help on the way.  And best of all it’s a solution that contains zero side effects and doesn’t involve swallowing any pills.  Instead the ClearUp device release microcurrents near your sinus, stimulating the nerves there and thereby reducing pressure.

Noise Radar – A new device getting unveiled in a Parisian suburb is capable of triangulating where a sound came from, which when combined with security camera footage, could enable the police to give out tickets to people, such as motorcycle riders, who violate noise ordinances.  As a curmudgeon who hates all loud sounds I love this idea.

Tooth Enamel Gel – Like most people I hate going to the dentist.  So much so, that I’ve even debated an extreme approach: trying to avoid going at all until stem cell technology capable of regrowing teeth goes mainstream.  After all, why sit through a painful root canal now when I could just wait out a pain free approach that’s right around the corner.

Well, as it turns out I may not have to wait that long.  In fact, I may not even have to wait for stem cell technology at all.  Instead there may soon be a simple gel that could help regrow tooth enamel in a matter of days.  At least if early research on rats is to be believed.

Ingressive Airflow – One of the biggest problems with AI infused virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa is that it’s annoying and potentially embarrassing to interact with them in public.  Not only can others hear your conversations but the mere act of constantly engaging with them is disruptive to those around you. Fortunately, Microsoft has been working on a solution: a way to silently interact with our virtual friends by whispering.

Translatotron – This Google tool would make it possible to not only translate audio into another language but also retain the speaker’s original voice when doing so.

Acoustic Metamaterial – I have a new all-time #1 favorite invention.  An acoustic meta-material capable of blocking all sound.  No more 6 am wake up calls from garbage trucks, car alarms, jackhammers, woodpeckers, or noisy neighbors.  No more need for ear plugs, sound machines, or sleeping pills either.  Once the entire world is blanketed in this material we’ll have Heaven on Earth, peace and quiet for all for the rest of eternity.

Fast Company explains how this miracle invention came to be:

“A team of Boston University researchers recently stuck a loudspeaker into one end of a PVC pipe. They cranked it up loud. What did they hear? Nothing.

How was this possible? Did they block the other end of the pipe with noise canceling foams or a chunk of concrete? No, nothing of the sort. The pipe was actually left open save for a small, 3-D-printed ring placed around the rim. That ring cut 94% of the sound blasting from the speaker, enough to make it inaudible to the human ear.

Dubbed an ‘acoustic meta-material,’ the ring was printed from a mathematically modeled design, shaped in such a way that it can catch certain frequencies passing through the air and reflect them back toward their source. Typical acoustic paneling works differently, absorbing sound and turning the vibrations into heat. But what’s particularly trippy is that this muffler is completely open. Air and light can travel through it – just sound cannot.”

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2019 was brimming with cool ideas.

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The manner and way in which we go food shopping has undergone several dramatic shifts over time thanks to the development of new technologies.  From coupons and bar codes to electronic scanners and self-checkout lines, getting groceries is a high-tech operation.  Even your shopping cart is full of tech, capable of shutting down if you try to take it home with you.  Soon, we may even get to the point where we don’t even have to wait in line at all to check out, our bill automatically added up while we shop.

Further Sci-Fi innovations are on the way as well.  Thanks to Synthetic Biology we may even have packages of meat that change color in line with their freshness.  But that’s just the start.  Thanks to a new wearable device we’ll even be able to align our food choices to our DNA.  That’s right.  We can now go food shopping armed with the knowledge of which specific foods are best for us.

World Economic Forum, “By analyzing the part of your genetic code determining susceptibility to nutrition-related health conditions like diabetes, DNANudge tells you which foods are best for you, and which you should avoid.

The wristband scans shop barcodes and shows a green light if a product is OK and red if it may be harmful in the long run. The wristband’s linked smartphone app suggests healthier alternatives when the red light comes on.”

This app could be bad news for Madison Avenue if it catches on and people blindly decide to follow its advice.  After all, what’s the point of paying huge sums to Olympic athletes to appear on a box of Wheaties if celebrity endorsements won’t move the needle anymore; if the only thing that will sway sentiment is DNANudge, not nostalgia, your emotions, impulses, cravings, or the fact that you are hangry at the moment.

But it’ll also be good news for foodies, the healthcare industry, the Quantified Self Movement, and anyone else at all interested in staying healthy, maximizing their full potential, and living longer.  Making it the latest in a long line of food shopping related innovations and begging the question: what is still to come?

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Is DNANudge the Greatest Idea Ever?

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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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