This post is by LinkedIn influencer Bernard Marr, Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Leading Business and Data Expert
The Wearable Technology Show in London developers showcased over 40 new products and services designed to take advantage of today’s always-online society.
What started with the smartphone has now involved into smart televisions, kettles, lightbulbs and just about every type of clothing garment. What is immediately apparent are that many of them are variations on a theme – different types of sports and activity trackers, for example. The question is less, these days, “what do you want to measure?” but rather, “how do you want to measure it?” A wrist band? Socks? Boxer shorts?
Here’s a quick run through of some of the more interesting and unique ideas being touted at the event, which as well as wearables and IOT technology, heavily featured virtual and augmented reality.
Augmented reality – headsets which superimpose computer graphics over the actual world you can see – is thought to be a few steps behind virtual reality – in which computer graphics fill your entire field of vision.
Google’s version – Google Glass was not immediately successful when it was launched a couple of years ago, mainly because the software support wasn’t quite ready. But other major companies are now signalling that they are ready to take the plunge. Sony’s SmartEyeGlass offers full binocular AR – so graphics can potentially appear seamlessly integrated with the real world, instead of the superimposed, HUD-like effect of earlier devices.
Samsung Entrim 4D Headphones
Potentially one of the biggest barriers to VR gaining mainstream consumer acceptance is the problem of motion sickness. When you’re in VR, your brain is often tricked into thinking it is moving when in fact your body is standing perfectly still. This can create a nauseating effect similar to travel sickness, and no one yet really knows how many people will be affected by this. Samsung’s novel solution is its 4D Entrim headphones, which use a method known as Galvanic Vestibular Stimulation to trick the body’s vestibule system, located in the ear, into thinking it is actually experiencing motion.
Maintool Smart Watch Strap
Smart watches are becoming a more commonplace sight, and not just on the wrists of techies, gadget fiends and geeks. There’s still a subset of customers, however, who are unlikely to take to them any time soon – hardcore luxury watch fanatics.
Maintool claim to have come up with the answer to persuading this market to “smarten themselves up” – a watch strap that transforms any timepiece into a smart watch. An array of sensors and monitors including a pedometer, heart rate monitor, calorie counter and thermometer to measure skin temperature mean any watch can be converted into a smart watch with a simple swap of the strap.
A “connected” version of Jaguar’s upcoming F-Pace SUV was on display to showcase technology developed in partnership with Intel. Through a custom graphical user interface, it is designed to interact seamlessly with smart home devices back at home. So the driver can, for example, turn on central heating remotely as he or she is heading home from work, and ensure that whatever they were listening to on their car audio system is continuing to play as they walk through their front door. It will also alert the driver if they’ve left something important at home, such as a phone or briefcase, if they have been tagged with one of the system’s tiny tracking devices.
VTime VR Social Platform
Facebook’s purchase of one of the leading developers of consumer VR headsets – Oculus – demonstrates the prominent part that the social media giant feels VR will play in the future of socializing.
At least one VR-based social network already exists, however. Users of Samsung’s GearVR headset can already access VTime, which allows you to meet with friends or strangers in exotic virtual locations such as a polar exploration camp, a dizzyingly high mountainside climbing platform, or even the International Space Station.
DoubleMe VR Avatar Creator
Developers of social VR applications have held back on allowing users to import lifelike representations of themselves thus far. VTime, for example, requires users to design a cartoonish avatar of themselves. In part this is due to ethical implications of putting real people into virtual worlds. It is also due to a phenomenon inherent to both robotics and VR known as “uncanny valley”, where things – particularly people – which look almost, but not quite, like things from the real world, can cause confusion, discomfort and nausea.
DoubleMe’s technology addresses the second problem, if not the first. It creates stunningly lifelike representations of real people from a simple 2D camera setup, intended for both VR and AR applications.
Spartan Boxer Shorts
Wearable technology designed to protect men from the side effects of the IOT revolution. It has been demonstrated that electromagnetic radiation from wireless devices can lead to a decrease in fertility in men – particularly worrying considering that such devices are often carried in pockets or worn attached to a belt. These boxer shorts were a crowdfunded product which are now on general sale, and claim to block 99% of radiation from reaching those areas critical for reproduction.
From a uniquely male solution to a uniquely female one. Babypod was the only intra-vaginal wearable on display in the family-friendly environment of the Wearable Technology Show. Babies in the womb have been shown to respond to music as early as 16 weeks, in ways that are thought to potentially be beneficial to their cognitive development. The science – which is backed by the respected gynaecological research institute, the Institut Marques, says that babies respond in a far more positive way to music streamed vaginally rather than through the stomach.
Beddit Sleep Tracker
A thin, sensor-laden film designed to go between your mattress and bedsheet, enabling you to track sleep patterns without wearing a smart watch or fitness strap. The device integrates with Apple’s Watch to give readouts on sleep quality, time taken to fall asleep, night time movements, breathing and snoring. Algorithms are then used to suggest changes to sleeping habits which should make a good night’s rest more achievable.
Centre for Digital Entertainment Unnamed Research Project
Researchers at the CDE – a joint initiative from Bath and Bournemouth Universities – unveiled technology which, while it does not yet have commercial applications, could be a game changer in the near future.
Utilising natural language processing technology, a user is able to create simple, computer generated scenes using human language. Feed it the text “The cupboard sat opposite the door, next to the shabby sofa”, and a 3D model of the scene is instantly created and ready for manipulation.
While the team members at the show were quick to stress that their tech demo is at a very early stage and can only handle a limited range of input, ideas such as this could revolutionize the way that movies or virtual worlds are created in the future.
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