Posts Tagged ‘wearable tech’

Steve Wozniak
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Julie MalvikFebruary 3, 2015

Norwegian Students Shooting for the Moon

A shared idea about the future of technology went from a vision to a reality when three Norwegian students got together and founded the company MOON Wearables. The company is created to design and make wearable electronic devices and software applications. The goal: to make life easier for people by giving them beautiful objects they will love to use.

Wearable technology presents the potential for massive transformation in many industries. The more obvious ones include consumer electronics and communications. Early adopter industries include clothing, healthcare, sports and fitness. However, we see many industries adopting wearable technologies as computing and wireless communications integrate wearable into virtually every aspect of product and services.

How can this type of technology improve people’s daily lives?

“Elon Musk once said, “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.”

“We absolutely share his view. And with the rise of the internet-of-things (IoT), we believe the history of engineering and technology is soon facing an inflection point. Where before, most ‘things’ around us have existed as individual cells of technology and engineering, analogous to how computers existed as individual workstations prior to the Internet. Today and going forward, these cells are beginning to be interconnected. The world’s things will begin talking to each other,” Jørgen Veisdal says.

“The currency in this world, as we see it, will be knowledge about the user. Where is he/she? What is he/she doing? Is he/she hungry? Sick? Bored?”

“Utilizing a few simple sensors and microprocessors in conjunction with a few hundred lines of code, MOON and its application can begin making informed predictions about the answers to such questions. Our predictions may then feed into the ecosystem of things around the user, improving his or hers experience.”

“If our app knows that the person is in Trondheim, that the weather is cold and dark, that the user has just walked three kilometers in 25 minutes, and his/her blood sugar is low, these factors may be brought into what the user sees, hears and feels around them. As you walk in the door, your August Smart lock can tell your Sonos sound system to put on some smooth jazz, your light bulbs from LIFX will dim up a calm yellow light, while your Nest sets the thermostat to a soothing 25 degrees. All before the user even has time to take off their shoes,” he says.

An idea born at NTNU

The idea for MOON started two years ago when Jørgen Veisdal began at his graduate degree at Norwegian University of Science and Technology. “A believer in the potential of the-up-and-coming wearable market, I was reviewing the various products in the marketplace trying to understand why some products had been successful and others had failed,” he says.

He tells that this analysis culminates in three key properties, which in his opinion a wearable has to have in order to be successful. “At the time, no products were successfully delivering on all three properties. I still believe that to be the case today.”

The wearable technology market is entering a rapid growth phase. Examples of leading indicators of future wearable technology sales such as Google Trends, cost reduction of the key enabling technologies, increase in functionality that is becoming possible and initial sales of new smart wrist wear such as Apple Watch, and fitness monitors. All show that a very rapid growth is in prospect.

Driven by the arrival of the Apple Watch, which will begin shipping in April according to CEO Tim Cook, the global market for wireless power and charging in wearable applications is set to attain a giant 3,000 percent expansion this year compared to 2014, according to IHS Technology.

Furthermore, there will be a remarkable growth this year for wireless charging in wearable electronic devices. According to statistics on Market Watch the wireless charging in wearables will generate revenue exceeding $1 billion by 2019.

“In choosing which segment of the market we wanted to contribute to, we similarly analyzed what the goals of using any given product may be, and how one might go about trying to achieve such goals. For wearables, this relates mainly to where on the body the device physically sits and what it enables the user to do, that he/she is currently unable to do with a smartphone/tablet,” Jørgen Veisdal says.

“Failing to deliver on either or both of these two properties is, in our opinion, where most wearable vendors get it wrong. When we make product decisions, the final decision always comes down to how it affects one or both of these two factors.”

Goals for 2015

“Ultimately, what we do is build tools that will make people’s lives better. That’s our ultimate goal. When they asked Steve Jobs about how he saw the computer, he would invariably refer to it as the ‘bicycle of the mind’, a tool which enables humans to perform at higher levels than they would be able to without it.”

Veisdal explains, “In our opinion, there have been two such ‘bicycles’ in our industry to date – the personal computer and the smartphone. These were two inventions that truly made people’s lives better in a dramatic way, and largely shaped our modern world. We believe wearable technology has the potential to offer improvements at a similar scale. Our firm’s name was chosen to engrain this belief in our own company culture.”

“We are not spending our twenties building something that aims for incremental improvements. We’re shooting for the MOON.”

In the past few years the wearable technology market has made a huge jump out of the trial and error phase and into the hands of hundreds of thousands of eager consumers, with hundreds of product launches last year alone. With consumers already spending a lot on the product, it should not be surprising that seller competition has skyrocketed.

“We are about to begin manufacturing complete functional prototypes of our device for demo and testing purposes. Because we are building everything in-house, this process is expected to be both comprehensive and time consuming, but we are hopeful that it will culminate in a minimum-viable product by the end of the year.”

“I think it is interesting to talk about motivation. Having followed the technology industry in Silicon Valley like many people may have followed their favorite sport’s teams for over ten years now, we have been dreaming about this opportunity since we were in our early teens. This is it for us,” Veisdal says.

He expresses himself as a dreamer. “In truth, at our core, more than anything we are dreamers. Dreamers work in bits and atoms, trying to create things that we want for ourselves, but that don’t exist around us. In order to do so, in the face of overwhelming odds of failure, putting our hearts, souls on the line, the thing that keeps us going is undoubtedly our passion. The passion we share for what we do.”

“Of course, if such was our goal, there are easier ways for us to make money. We could perfect and license out our circuits and spend our time doing business development instead. It would certainly be a lot cheaper, and we would likely get a lot more sleep while doing so. It’s not magical. It’s not going to make users smile. That’s something I think this country has lost, or maybe never even had, that Silicon Valley is amazing at. Creating user experiences that are so thorough and well thought out that people form an emotional attachment to them. That’s engineering at its finest, and it’s rare.”

CES 2015
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 14, 2015

What We Learned From CES 2015

Last week the mammoth Consumer Electronics Show once again took place in Las Vegas. Its timing in January means CES becomes a great preview and predictor of trends in consumer tech for the year ahead.

Here’s some of what we learned from this year’s event.

What the future of TV looks like

Are televisions still relevant in the days of internet streaming and tablets? LG claim a big fat yes with their 77-inch 4K Flexible OLED TV. Can’t decide if you want a curved or flat screen TV? This monster does both, transforming at the touch of a button!

OLEDs work by putting electricity through certain materials that glow red, blue or green. Each pixel can be turned off for an absolute black, unique among modern television technologies. All this means a grand slam for OLED technology: incredible contrast, remarkably thin, and more energy efficient than the competition.

We also saw demonstrations of HDR television, with Panasonic, Samsung, LG and Sony all showing the difference between screens with and without HDR capability. Netflix shot its recent Marco Polo series using HDR-cameras and we can’t wait to see the results (it’s not yet available on screen)

Meanwhile, Sling TV won Engadget’s Best of CES award in “Best Home Theatre Product” for their “designed for internet” take on a digital subscription service.

What auto-driving cars will be like

I’ve just about got to grips with the concept of using my watch for more than telling the time, but using it to drive a car? Woooah!

That was the response of most people who saw the lovely BMW i3 being controlled via voice commands on a smartwatch.

“The BMW I3 is a lovely hunk of automobile, the kind of vehicle you would save up for years to buy, and then polish with a diaper. Hold on there, sir. Do you really want to drive this masterpiece of engineering with a Samsung Gear S smartwatch?” – Mario Aguilar, Gizmodo

Mercedes-Benz unveiled their radical concept for a self-driving car. The ridiculous looking exterior is nothing compared to what goes on inside, where the front seats swivel 180 degrees.

Future tech at CES 2015

What the future connected home will look like

There is no stopping the connected home!

Smart home technology absolutely dominated CES 2015. An incredible amount of gadgets were on display. It would have been impossible to see all of them let alone write about all of them, so here’s just a few that caught our eyes.

Witricity enables remote charging of devices, such as a mobile phone placed on a desk or even an electric car parked in a garage, through its wireless electricity concept. EchoStar Sage allows you to get live alerts from security cameras and sensing equipment direct to your TV, with no subscription fees. Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound Moment is sends tracks and playlists from your digital collection and streaming services to your speakers, but most importantly of all, it’s beautiful. On the topic of beautiful audio, we also love the design of the Naim Audio Mu-so wireless speaker.

One big surprise from LG was a new washing machine concept packed with technology including a second mini-washer drawer, recycling heat to improve energy efficiency, and spraying detergent directly onto clothes for supposedly faster cycle times.

What our future connected selves will look like

If you’re comfortable with attaching multiple devices to your body & uploading that data to the internet, then get ready to celebrate as wearables continue to develop at a rapid pace.

Belty, the self-adjusting belt, caused quite a stir as people slowly realised self-adjusting means self-tightening! JINS unveiled Meme, smartglasses with style (that actually look like glasses), while XelfleX showed off their smart textile technology that turns garments into active motion sensors. Are fitness bands over already?

Trade booth at CES 2015

Did you attend CES 2015 or follow it online? What caught your eye?

Photo credits: Samsung Tomorrownvidia.corporation,

FluorescentTobacco
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesFebruary 17, 2014

10 Exciting Crowdfunded… Gadgets

With crowdfunding, anyone can help turn the craziest of dreams into a fully functional reality. From the innovative to the sustainable to the just plain wacky, these 10 successful campaigns give a taste of the great new tech coming out of crowdfunding.

1. WakaWaka Light and Power

WakaWaka Power

Image: WakaWaka

This lamp is solar powered and super efficient, lasting for up to 80 hours. It can stand up on its own or attached to a bottle top. The WakaWaka Power, released in 2013, can also be used to charge a smartphone, MP3 player or tablet.

Even better, the profits from sales in the West are used to give WakaWakas to some of the 1.2 billion people without access to electricity. Replacing kerosene lamps with solar light cuts down on CO2 emissions, reduces health problems like burns, and saves families money. That makes WakaWakas a win-win!

These nifty gadgets have had three crowdfunding campaigns – Kickstart and Symbid for the WakaWaka Light, and again on Kickstarter for WakaWaka Power. Or you can check out the website to buy the gadget yourself.

2. Glowing Plant

Image: WIRED

The boundaries between technology and nature are sometimes hard to define. No more so than with this crowdfunding project, which caused quite a stir last summer when campaigners offered to give away free glowing plants to their Kickstarter backers.

The project seeks to develop sustainable, natural lighting by genetically modifying plants to glow in the dark – but its wild popularity comes from its wacky, science fiction appeal.

The founders describe their crowdfunding success as an exciting new development for synthetic biology, but critics worry about the environmental risks when GMOs are freely distributed. In the wake of this controversy Kickstarter has banned GMOs as rewards, alongside guns and alcohol. Interested people in the US can still pre-order glow-in-the-dark seeds or plants on the Glowing Plant website, but distribution to Europe is illegal under EU law.

3. Wood. Head. Phones.

Image: Inhabitat

Except for the wire inside them, these headphones are made entirely of wood. The inventor, a 19-year-old product designer from Oslo, named them after the Norwegian word “treskalle” – literally meaning “wood head”, or “stupid” – because, as he says in his crowdfunding video, “this is, in a lot of ways, a stupid product”.

In spite of this modesty, the headphones supposedly have a sweet sound and are custom-made for each person in ash, oak, cherry, or walnut. It’s not clear if you can still buy your own Wood. Head. Phones., but the Facebook page is a good place to start looking.

4. Kano

Image: Kano

If you’ve ever wanted the satisfaction of building your own computer, then look no further than Kano. For geeks and newbies of all ages, this cool kit comes with 11 components – including how-to guides – and is cute enough to give mainstream laptops a run for their money.

With Kano you can make games and learn code, and it’s open source, so using it can only get more fun. The smash hit Kickstarter campaign raised 15 times the original goal, and you can find out more or pre-order your own at the Kano website.

5. Morpher

Image: Indiegogo

Do you use a helmet when you cycle? Many people don’t, and this British inventor thinks he’s found one reason why: helmets are too bulky, especially for people using a bike rental scheme. The solution? A folding helmet.

Morpher folds in half, making it easy to slip it into a rucksack or laptop bag. It should be as safe as an ordinary helmet – most of the crowdfunded money will be used to meet international safety standards – and even comes in pretty colours. Check out the Indiegogo campaign or Morpher website for more info.

6. BUILD

Image: Indiegogo

Tired of boring furniture? Well, designers in Germany have developed modular shelving that is non-toxic, long lasting and completely recyclable. Beneath its funky shape lies a high-tech structure of polypropylene plastic foam that also makes it lightweight and shock-absorbent.

With BUILD you decide what shape you want, and can put it on a wall or use it to divide up a room. Plus if you move house or need an extra few chairs for that big dinner party, each block doubles up as a box, a seat, or even a cooler. Check out the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, or go straight for the product.

7. ThePresent

Image: thepresent

OMMMMMMMMM.

Relaxed yet? No? Well maybe it’s time to welcome ThePresent into your life. Its New York inventor touts this as the first 365-day clock – in one year the hand only rotates once around the face. With its colourful display to evoke the changing seasons, this clock is a reminder to stop and smell the roses.

The Kickstarter campaign has a great video about how the clock was made. Check out ThePresent website to learn more or get your own.

8. JACK

Image: autoevolution

Between walking and cycling lies a third choice for the eco-friendly commuter: the electric, folding scooter. JACK, as this Dutch prototype is called, weighs less than 20kg, can be charged in a car or home, and fits easily in a car boot or on public transport.

JACK can travel at speeds up to 25kph (15mph), but with a full battery it only lasts 20k (12.5 miles) so it’s more suited to a city spin than a road trip. All the specs are on the Symbid campaign page or the JACK website.

9. Tellspec

Image: Tellspec

If you’re human, you’ve probably worried about what’s in your food at least once. Does that apple have pesticides on it? Are there nasty additives in my pre-packaged sandwich? How many calories are in that slice of cake?

Tellspec hopes to answer these questions. Through spectrometry, Tellspec uses a laser to scan the chemicals inside a piece of food, and then wirelessly sends the results to your smartphone. For anyone with a food allergy, watching their weight or just keen on good food, this is definitely a product to watch. The Indiegogo campaign finished in November, so stay tuned on the website for launch as early as August.

10. Emotiv Insight

Image: Kickstarter

It’s not a jetpack, but it comes pretty close. The Emotiv Insight will allow you to move objects with your mind. With previous models, people have used their thoughts to create music, drive a car, manipulate a robot, type on a keyboard, and operate a wheelchair. This new model, crowdfunded on Kickstart, should also be able to record emotions, stress levels, physical fitness and facial expressions.

Emotiv Insight works through electroencephalography (EEG) to interpret the neuron signals  in the user’s brain. To make it more accessible, designers are making this gadget lightweight and cheaper, and adding dry sensors (so you don’t need to smear gel on your head every time you use it). Whether it’s helping people recover from injury, manage a disability, or just try out something awesome, this gadget screams “watch out, world”.

 

Is there a gadget we’ve left out? Which one would you choose?

CES 2014
60David Nikel

David NikelJanuary 13, 2014

The Internet Of Everything Is Here: CES 2014

The “internet of things” was the cool phrase to say last year, as tech was smashed together with all sorts of everyday objects. It was only a matter of time before this evolved from innovate ideas to consumer products. Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show – surely one of the biggest geek-outs in the world – revealed the latest developments in this rapidly-evolving trend.

The internet of things has become the internet of everything, with all manner of mobile and wearable tech now being developed. The concept is basically connected tech that changes our lives, making them easier, safer, or simply more fun.

Here’s some of the media reaction:

“We went into this whole thing expecting very little in the way of amazing new products and we were pleasantly surprised. The big guys might be boring but it’s the little guys – like early mammals scuttling under the dinosaurs – that make the biggest impact”TechCrunch

“A phantasmagoria of light, sound, and electricity. Actual electricity, and the kind of spiritual, psychic kind that only happens but once a year”The Verge

What caused such a reaction?

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest announcements from the world of mobile and wearable tech:

Virtual Reality with Occulus Rift

Immersive virtual reality is coming on leaps and bounds. Occulus Rift presented their Crystal Cove prototype – an augmented virtual reality headset that puts you into a game. It fixes many of the niggles from previous versions and is the clearest sign yet that we’ll see something on the market this year.

“Of all the exciting, innovative products we’ve seen at CES this year, the Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove” prototype is unquestionably the best of the best”Engadget

Pebble Steel Smartwatch

Kickstarter graduates Pebble promised “something special” and they didn’t disappoint. The Pebble Steel does away with the lightweight “plastic toy” feel of the older models in favour of metal, leather straps, and a more solid construction. Together with a specialist store featuring over 3,000 apps, these are signs that Pebble is growing up fast.

The 3 Doodler

3D printing has up until now been an activity reserved for engineers and the technically-minded. Crowdfunded project 3Doodler opens up the possibilities to the rest of us with its fantastic 3D printing pen that really does let you draw in 3D. It works in a similar way to a 3D printer, by rapidly heating up and cooling plastic as it passes through the head.

But rather than talk, let’s watch. You can’t fail to be amazed!

Elsewhere at CES 2014, it seems the car is rapidly evolving from a means of transportation to our latest connected device. From laser headlights to driverless steering, technology in cars will be a big thing in 2014.

But that’s for another blog post :)

Photo credit: Daniel Incandela

Samsung Galaxy
11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalSeptember 4, 2013

Smart Watches – the next big thing?

On Wednesday this week, Samsung introduced the Smart watch, Galaxy Gear. This smart phone accessory can pick up notifications, control music playback, and keep time with a rich variety of watch faces. In addition, the watch can take pictures, and even conduct phone calls.  

Galaxy Gear is not the first smart phone product on the marked though, nor is it the last. Both Sony and Motorola are selling the product, and last year, 330.000 smart watches were sold. Big companies, like Apple, Microsoft and Google believes that the smart watch is the new big marked. According to the analysis company, Canalys, there will be sold five millions smart watches next year.

The smart watch is not a replacement of the smart phone, it relies on a Bluetooth connection to the smart phone. However, a smart watch will open new opportunities for software developers who create applications for health, sport and activities (tu.no)

Is this a cool gadget you just must have?        

Photo by: Samsung Electronics (CC)                 

arm_and_signal
14Hermann Ørn Vidarsson

Hermann Ørn VidarssonJuly 5, 2013

Look! No hands!

The scene from minority report where Tom Cruise swipes through multiple windows on a semi-transparent curving screen must have been the inspiration of the MYO Armband. This gesture control device has the potential of changing the way we interact with electronics. The wristband is attached to your lower arm and detects motion and electrical impulses generated by the muscles in your arm through 8 sensors.  The Canadian start up Thalmic that has developed the kid expect the ship the fist devices early in 2014 but have all ready released the API on their website: https://www.thalmic.com/myo/

Though Thalmic initially releases the Myo for for a recreational marked we find the industrial possibilities mind-boggling. Who would not like to be able to control a big machine and still have both hands free?