CNET – Imagine: You’re walking down the street at night. You turn a corner, and suddenly, coming your way, you see someone with “Avatar” playing on their jacket.
It’s a futuristic notion, but according to the folks at open-source hardware maker Adafruit Industries, it’s one that’s just months away.
That’s because Adafruit has just unveiled Flora, its brand-new Arduino and Arduino-compatible wearable electronics platform. Designed to give anyone the ability to craft a matrix of up to hundreds or someday, more than 1,000 small LED “pixels,” Flora is meant to make it possible to easily craft custom wearable multi-LED pixel designs perfect for art events like Burning Man, or even the streets of whatever town you live in.
liliputing- Remember when digital watches with calculators were state-of-the-art wearable computers? Now you can slap an iPod Nano on a wrist strap and carry music and apps around on a portable color screen. But there’s another frontier in the wristputer space, and it’s focused on fitness. [...]
Now Nike is launching a slick-new wristband called the Nike+ FuelBand. It can track your steps, calories burned, or time exercised – but also tracks a new metric called NikeFuel which is basically how much oxygen you’re consuming by performing a given task. In other words it doesn’t just monitor our fitness activity when you’re walking or running, but also when you’re sitting still, playing games on yoru Wii, or doing just about anything else.
The FuelBand has built-in LEDs that glow red or green to let you know when you’re reaching your fitness goals (or failing to do so). They can also display text or numbers to show your score, distance traveled, or the time. You can pair the $149 FuelBand with an iPhone over Bluetooth to upload your data to the Nike+ app.
NYTimes - [Nick Bilton, of the NY Times,] recently wrote a column about wearable computing, in which he discussed a future in which people will eventually wear glasses and contact lenses with built-in screens, delivering content we can use. It will be like having smartphones in our eyes, but much smarter ones.
Researchers [Nick] spoke with for his column noted that it would be at least 10 years before Facebook updates were being flashed into our retinas in real time. In the interim, though, the first iteration of wearable computers are here, focusing on tracking people’s health.
“I think we are at the very beginning of wearable computing,” said Julia Hu, founder and chief executive of Lark, a start-up based in Mountain View, Calif., that makes a wearable sleep tracking monitor. “You’re starting to see a lot of sensors that track data and then visualize it.” She added, “A big part of the first wave of wearables will be personalizing health and more importantly, making the information relevant for people.” Ms. Hu’s company chose to focus on sleep better because, she said, more than 70 million Americans have a sleeping disorder.
Michael Liebhold, a senior researcher specializing in wearable computing at the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, Calif., said in a phone interview that health applications made the most sense for today’s consumer-oriented wearables. Rather than offering health care, he said that new wearable devices were aimed at helping to promote wellness by helping people understand health issues before they became problems.
[...] But one wonders if people will actually wear these devices. Although health promoting and sleep monitoring devices may be useful and responsible, they aren’t exactly sexy products for mainstream consumers. And they won’t allow us to send Twitter messages from our eyeballs.
news, research, watch
New York Times – [...] Wearable computing is a broad term. Technically, a fancy electronic watch is a wearable computer. But the ultimate version of this technology is a screen that would somehow augment our vision with information and media.
Over the last year, Apple and Google have secretly begun working on projects that will become wearable computers. Their main goal: to sell more smartphones. (In Google’s case, more smartphones sold means more advertising viewed.)
In Google’s secret Google X labs, researchers are working on peripherals that — when attached to your clothing or body — would communicate information back to an Android smartphone.
People familiar with the work in the lab say Google has hired electronic engineers from Nokia Labs, Apple and engineering universities who specialize in tiny wearable computers.
Apple has also experimented with prototype products that could relay information back to the iPhone These conceptual products could also display information on other Apple devices, like an iPod, which Apple is already encouraging us to wear on our wrists by selling Nanos with watch faces.
TechCrunch - We’ve all see video glasses before – those clunky, Geordi La Forge-looking things that promise to display a 10 foot screen in front of your face. The drawbacks, generally, are size and transparency. Lumus, however, has solved those problems and is working on bringing a pair of see-through, HD video glasses to market that look more Minority Report than 1990s Star Trek.
Basically, Lumus has embedded a pair of light pumps into the earpieces that send and refract light down the lens. This moves the electronics away from the eyes, offering a lighter and more stream-lined experience. The lenses are completely transparent (and can be tuned for folks with vision problems) and when enabled the glasses display a crystal clear, 87-inch screen about ten feet away from you. The displays themselves are 1280 x 720 pixels and Lumus has created iPhone-compatible adapters that can display HD video right through the pumps and into the lenses.
health, research, sports
Wearable Technologies - On January 30, 2012, for the fifth time in a row, the Wearable Technologies Conference will take place in line with the International Sport Business Network (ISPO) Trade Show in Munich. This conference gives visitors the opportunity to discover groundbreaking innovations from the fields of health, fitness and prevention.
The conference will feature two areas of interest, namely the newest developments in the areas of “Sports & Consumers” and “Health & Fitness”. In addition to novel technologies in development, the 2012 WTconference will present products ready for the market. These days, technologies worn on or near the body are experiencing a real boom. The first WT products, those interesting to a wider market, are recording resounding successes. In addition, the many innovative technologies that have just reached the market stage have become all the more important to those manufacturers who can use the new technologies in a variety of their products. Tracks include: Sports and Prevention, Smartphone and Consumer Gadgets, Therapy and Innovation.
wireless and mobile news - Forget that old fashioned Baby monitor, you will soon be able monitor the baby’s vital signs on your computer, cell phone or tablet with Exmobaby by Exmovere wireless transmitting baby pajamas.
Exmobaby is a snap-on transmitter designed to measure critical vital signs in infants, including heart rate, skin temperature, moisture and movement. The data is transmitted at regular intervals to the parent’s computer, tablet and smartphone and is used to interpret the baby’s emotional states and behavior, transmitting alerts to parents and caregivers when their babies require attention or care.
The Exmobaby onesie is already available for sale. The onsie is safe, washable, rechargeable and transmits data via Zigbee up to 100 feet. It is based on patented technology from Sensatex and Georgia Tech.
Technology Review – A startup wants any Web page or mobile app to recognize faces, and claims users are becoming less sensitive about the technology. [...] While some see the technology as creepy, Face.com, the company behind it, argues that most users don’t mind being recognized automatically online.
For over a year, Face.com has made its technology available to software developers, enabling them to build it into a website or Web-connected apps. A website or app sends photos, which may be uploaded by users, to Face.com’s servers for processing and receives details that include the location of any faces, their gender, and whether they match other photos stored by Face.com. Last week, the service was upgraded to allow it to gauge a person’s mood, classifying them as happy, sad, surprised, angry, or neutral. It could already spot smiles, but has now gained the ability to classify whether a person’s lips are sealed, parted, or making a kiss. These new features could perhaps be used to automatically add more detailed tags to images or to challenge people to convey a certain mood with their expression.
University of Pittsburg – People attempting to lose weight won’t need to track their daily food intake anymore, thanks to a wearable, picture-taking device created at the University of Pittsburgh. eButton—a device worn on the chest (like a pin) that contains a miniature camera, accelerometer, GPS, and other sensors—captures data and information of health activities, eliminating the need for daily self-reporting. The eButton prototype was the result of research from a four-year NIH Genes, Environment, and Health Initiative grant that ended this year.
The eButton’s reporting extends even further than food and exercise: It can determine the amount of time wearers spend watching TV or sitting in front of a computer screen and how much time they spend outdoors. It tracks where food is bought, how meals are prepared, which restaurants are visited, and what items are ordered.
Retrieving the results of eButton is convenient [...] it’s as easy as transferring pictures from a digital camera onto a computer. To protect participants’ privacy, the data are coded so they cannot be read until scanned by a computer to block human faces.
The Engineer – The engineers at Belgian electronics company Imec claim that the completely hidden thermoelectric generator (TEG) can harness the body’s heat to generate electricity that could power low-energy wearable electronics. The TEG comprises 16 ‘thermopiles’, which are the individual electronic components responsible for converting heat into electricity. The voltage they generate is directly proportional to the temperature gradient across them.
These thermopiles are sandwiched between two plates, one hot and one cold, giving the device an overall thickness of 5mm. Ruud Vullers, principal scientist at Imec, told The Engineer: ‘If you have two semi-conductors and you apply a thermal gradient across them then a current will flow.’
The device is reported to produce an average power of 1mW when sitting in an office at 22ºC. As a result it could power health-monitoring devices such as electrocardiograms, which only require about 0.4mW. The power output doubles when the user stands to 2mW and doubles again to 4mW when walking.