Wearable Tech Digest - April 2017

Waseda tattoo wearable

Waseda University researchers have developed a 750-nanometre thick wearable, conductive film that could be used in tattoo like stick-on wearables. The team used an inkjet printer to print conductive ink circuits onto the thin, flexible elastomer films (polystyrene-polybutadiene-polystyrene). LEDs were added by sandwiching them between layers of nanosheets. The device was shown to be usable for several days on artificial skin. The team plans to continue further investigations of the material and production method in medicine, health care and sports training applications. 

Charging an ingestible

Researchers at MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory have developed a way to power ingestible devices that would allow them to stay in the gastric system – potentially indefinitely. The team’s system uses midfield transmission – similar to the near-field transmission that is used for wireless energy transfer between antennas and wireless phone charging.This method was shown to deliver 100 to 200 microwatts of power to the device, enough to power small electronics. In a study on a pig the midfield transmitter could transfer power over distances of between 2 and 10 centimetres, with no tissue damage.  The team hopes the technology will be ready for human testing within five years. 

IoT watch using Windows 10

Trekstor, a manufacturer of electronics, will be releasing a Windows 10 IoT Core-based B2B (business to business) commercial grade wearable. The device is cloud connected (via WiFi or Bluetooth), and can run Universal Windows Applications. Microsoft says the wearable (a 1.54 inch screened box that can be inserted into a watch strap) is designed to help businesses manage inventory, build automation in guest services, automate industrial processes, help with patient care, assist asset management, fleet management and others. The device also supports text or voice messaging. 

Medical grade watch

Alphabet Group’s Verily has released a watch for unobtrusive medical bio sensing. Built specifically for the medical monitoring market the watch attempts to overcome problems faced in this area:
1)    It contains sensors to monitor multiple factors such as electrocardiogram (ECG), heart rate, electrodermal activity, and inertial movements etc. This could reduce the number of different one-function wearables a person would need to wear. 
2)    There is no need for daily charging as it has up to one week’s battery life. This could improve user compliance.
3)    The device has an internal memory large enough to store weeks’ worth of raw data, meaning less time spent connecting the device and uploading data to a computer. 
Verily says the watch will be used in several studies such as the Personalized Parkinson’s Project, a long-term project to identify patterns in the progression of Parkinson’s disease and provide more personalized treatments. 

Monitoring glucose with contact lenses

Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea have developed a embedded contact lens sensor that could monitor biomarkers for intraocular pressure (IOP), diabetes and other conditions. The sensor is composed of transparent graphene sheets and metal nanowires. Through the embedded wireless antenna in the sensor blood sugar and eye pressure information can be monitored in real-time on a device such as a smartphone. The team tested the lens on a rabbit and claim that the animal didn’t display any signs of discomfort. 

Sweat watch

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers, in collaboration with the University of California-Berkeley, have developed a sweat-reading sensor that takes the form of a wearable wristband. The device collects sweat, measures its contents and transmits the results for further analysis and diagnostics. It uses electrical conductivity to analyse the composition of the sweat, for example, sweat high in chloride – a key indicator of cystic fibrosis (a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the organs) – generates higher voltages where it comes in contact with the sensor. The team sees the device being integrated into smartwatches in the future. 

Guitar learning method

Vibes is a wearable that hopes to help learners more effectively learn the guitar by ear. The forearm-worn strap links via Bluetooth to the Vibes smartphone app. The app produces audible notes, while simultaneously the wearable produces a tactile signal corresponding to a particular note. It is this association that the maker of Vibes believes will help the user learn to differentiate notes and chords and recognise them quicker than traditional repetition methods. The product is under development. Its expected sale price will be USD90-140. 

Swansea smart bandage

Within the next twelve months scientists at Swansea University plan to trial a smart bandage that would use mobile technology to help monitor a wound’s healing and record patient activity levels. The smart bandage uses nanotechnology-produced sensors to sense the state of the wound at any time. The bandage would connect to the wearer’s smartphone to gain location and activity information. This information could then be provided to the patient’s doctor to enable a tailored treatment regime. The project would be part of the £1.3bn Swansea Bay City deal which aims to create 5G test hub in the Welsh city. The bandages would be 3D printed.

Heart rate monitor tweaked

ActLight, a startup based in EPFL Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Innovation Park, has developed a sensor which can measure its wearer’s pulse (not in itself earth shattering), but importantly, the company claims that its device consumes only one fifth the battery power of other heartrate monitors. The difference lies in how the measurement is taken. Instead of converting the light into a current and then measuring its amplitude, ActLight’s dynamic photodiode sensors convert the current into time. The sensors use the pulse of light to identify the moment at which the current is triggered. 

NFL gets Whoop

Following on from last month’s news that the American MLB is allowing players to use the Whoop Strap fitness tracking band, now the American National Football League has also adopted Whoop as its official fitness tracking band. The players will own the data received from the strap. 

Add this: