Wearable Tech Digest - February 2017

Berkshire Hathaway company to release connected jewellery

It has been widely reported that Richline Group, a jewellery manufacturer and a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational conglomerate, is to enter the world of wearables with a smart jewellery collection called Ela. The first product in the Ela line will be a bracelet that is connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone app which records step-count in Apple Health and Google Health Kit. The bracelet can act as an alert system with its inbuilt vibrator and lights to provide colour coded message and call alerts for individual contacts. The bracelet launches in April 2017.

Fitbit a bit sick?

Fitness band company Fitbit has reported that it will lay off 110 employees. The company said in its press release that growth is slowing in part due to ‘softer than expected’ holiday sales. The layoff of staff accounts for around 6% of the global workforce, and is an attempt to create a more focussed and efficient operating model. 

Apple data-sharing gesture control patent

Apple has recently filed a patent for a gesture-controlled data sharing method. Users of Apple products, the patent suggests, would be able to securely send user-customised data to nearby portable devices, such as Apple Watches, through gestures like handshakes, fist bumps or high-fives with the intended data recipient. One possible use outlined in the patent is sending data of the two people meeting to Twitter as a tweet, although it could be used to send contact information, calendar event information, photos etc. 

NWFS smart clothing and VR

At New York Fashion Week 2017 smart clothing on show included Calvin Luo’s sleeveless dresses, trench coats and jackets embroidered with LEDs which are programmable via an app to display user-written text. DYNE with support from Samsung was showcasing NFC-equipped clothing, which when scanned on a smartphone would bring up a product specification. Samsung also got its Gear VR involved by hosting a VR fashion film, Dreaming of Italy – a virtual fashion show. 

NHS trials health wearable

NHS Scotland is to trial a health monitoring wearable called Snap40 in hospitals in Fife and Edinburgh in April and May 2017. Worn on the upper arm the device monitors heart rate, breathing, temperature, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, movement, posture and emotion. The data is sent via WiFi every 30 seconds, processed by algorithms and then displayed for the doctor to access on a smartphone. Snap40 (the manufacturer of the product of the same name) has been awarded GBP1 million by the NHS and aims to introduce its technology into seven more hospitals by the end of 2017. 

Snapchat’s glasses

Social media app Snapchat has released a pair of sunglasses with a built-in camera. By pressing a button on the glasses the user can record a short video. At top corner of each lens there are cameras which can produce a 115-degree HD video. The video is synced to the user’s Snapchat account when in range of Wi-Fi, or via Bluetooth. When recording, a ring of LEDs around the lenses light up. 

Camera strap for Apple Watch

CMRA is a company that has created a retrofittable Apple Watch band with front-facing 8MP and rear-facing 2MP Sony HD cameras. The strap can record 100 photos or about 30 minutes of video on one charge. The device can be used to video chat from an Apple Watch. The band is available to pre-order for USD169. 

Queuing could be a thing of the past with wearable tech

Universal’s new water park, Volcano Bay, currently under construction, will be using wearable bands (TapuTapu) to help lubricate visitors’ trips to the park. The band will be given to guests when they enter the park and will provide them with alerts when it has reached their time to go on certain rides. It is hoped that this will reduce guest queuing time. The device will also introduce interactive elements to the park experience by, for example, tapping the TapuTapu to activate water jets or shoot water cannons.

Video recording contact lenses

Sony has been granted a patent for contact lenses that can record video. By judging length of eyeblink the lenses will activate recording mode if the blink is deemed voluntary. The lenses will use electromagnetic induction to power them and will contain sensors to measure temperature, pressure, acceleration and force. 

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