The Next Leap: 5 body parts wearable makers might be neglecting
Sure, everyone loves the wrist, but what about innovation for your feet? Wearables for your hair?By Elaine Huang 22 Jul, 2014
As a part of ‘The Next Leap’ series – an e27 and Samsung Developers knowledge sharing collaboration, we will be covering hot tech topics every Tuesday. To start with, we list the trends that will dominate in 2014.
The world’s first wearable is the wristwatch. First used as a way to keep track of the time while one is on the go, as opposed to carrying a weighty wooden clock or a sundial, the device has metamorphosed into a fashion accessory, a calculator, a health and fitness tracker amongst other things.
The wristwatch, when computerised, is also the world’s most popular wearable. For example, there is the Samsung Gear series, released in September 2013, which run on the Android OS; the Pebble and Pebble Steel smartwatches, which are compatible with Android and iOS devices; and the upcoming Moto 360, an Android Wear-based smartwatch. The iWatch is still highly fabled, even though there have been many rumours around the device. Intel, too, has jumped on this bandwagon with its acquisition of Basis, a smartwatch maker.
However, while the wrist has received much attention, let’s not neglect other parts of the human body. Here are five body parts wearable makers might be neglecting — from head to toe.
Don’t underestimate the power of a hair clip. These smart accessories, carefully disguised as inconspicuous hair clips, might not prevent physical or sexual assaults, but it sure can help the victim after the incident.
Meet the First Sign Hair Clip. The device can detect physical assault like slapping, punching, kicking or “aggressive shaking”, according to Yahoo, all sensed through a gyroscope and an accelerator contained within the clip, and start recording via a microphone in the hair clip.
Furthermore, the app can access the victim’s smartphone’s GPS location, camera and microphone via Bluetooth, and start recording crucial information that can place the perpetrator at the scene. If the gadget remains switched on even after 15 seconds, that information will be sent to a monitoring station.
Often, victims of domestic abuse are not able to pinpoint their attackers due to a lack of evidence. The device costs US$50, and its monitoring service costs US$5 a month. Is that considered affordable for people in such situations? One has to bear in mind that these victims are often strapped for cash, as their attackers might control their finances.
Commercially available optical head-mounted displays like Google Glass and Oculus Rift might give the sighted a better experience when doing day-to-day tasks, but what about the visually impaired?
For example, Microsoft has been said to be working on a device that can help blind people sense things around them. Currently known as ‘Smart Alice’, the gadget transmits information through an earpiece worn by the user. It is now being tested in the UK, according to Wearables Arena.
The Argus, as reported by Wired, is another invention for people who have lost their sense of sight. The device, shaped like a pair of tinted shades, helps the blind gain some semblance of sight through “black-and-white edges and contrast points”. The information can then be used as a visual guide, and allow these users to be more independent in unfamiliar scenarios.
What’s more wearable than a shirt? Intel’s smart shirt. It measures the user’s heart rate without needing a separate heart rate strap, noted Re/code, and sends relevant information to an assigned smartphone.
Smart shirts can also help reveal posture mistakes. This is especially beneficial to sportspeople, who can use the data to avoid straining themselves or improve game techniques.
Other wearable clothing include smart bras. Yes, there are smart bras that only unhook when the person wearing it experiences a stimulated heart rate (or true love, according to marketers), smart bras that help with fighting emotional eating, and smart bras that tweet.
Some companies might think of human sexual anatomy as a taboo category, but not Dema Tio, Co-founder, Vibease. He launched a wearable smart vibrator on Indiegogo last July and has never looked back. One partner can control the intensity and patterns of the vibrator with a smartphone remotely.
Another wearable which has ventured into this space is the kGoal Pelvic Floor Trainer. Kegel exercises are not exactly rocket science, but without proper guidance and feedback, working out one’s pelvic floor muscles is also not exactly as simple as A-B-C. The device is currently available at US$25 internationally.
Males looking for wearables in this range might have to wait a bit. Current male sex toys aren’t exactly connected to the internet or a smartphone.
Now, while you keep your feet warm with comfortable walking shoes, you can look to be alerted to special deals and navigate places according to your mood.
Developed by Dhairya Dand in the Information Ecology team of MIT’s Media Lab, Supershoes are flexible insoles, according to Wired, which act as “the interface between your body and the ground”. By tapping your toes on a touchpad, you can swipe your smartphone screen or accept a friend request. The possibilities are endless, but what’s wrong with just using a finger to swipe one’s screen?
The Next Leap is a collaboration between e27 and Samsung Developers to tell the stories of innovators and startups across Asia, who push the envelope in technology and business. Visit Samsung Developers Asia’s website for all your development needs on the Samsung platform.
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