wearable

MOCAheart Makes Keeping Track Of Your Heart’s by Gavin Lau

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MOCAheart wants to make keeping track of your cardiovascular health as easy as pressing a button. The device, which is currently on Kickstarter, was developed by a team led by Naama Stauber and Dr. Daniel Hong, who was a physician at National Taiwan University Hospital, one of the country’s top teaching hospitals, before becoming an entrepreneur. The two met while attending the Design for Service Innovation Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, which focuses on developing new software and hardware for healthcare.

To use MOCAheart, you place your index fingers on top of the device and wait a few seconds for your health data to show up on the connected app.

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The lightweight but sturdy MOCAheart, which I saw demoed at MOCA’s Taipei office, contains several sensors within its stainless steel and plastic case. Two are light sensors: one red light and one infrared sensor that measure blood oxygen and blood velocity, respectively. Two EKG sensors track cardiac electronic activity. It also has a G-sensor, or accelerometer, so the MOCAheart can be used as an activity tracker in the future. The app uses pulse transit time (PTT) to estimate the user’s blood pressure.

Instead of telling you your systolic and diastolic pressure measurements, like a blood pressure monitor does, MOCAheart uses a rating scale it calls the MOCA Index, which ranks your heart health (based on blood pressure, blood oxygen, and blood velocity) from 0 to 4. If you score a 0 to 1, that means your blood pressure is probably in the low to ideal range. Two means it is still normal but elevated, while 3 and 4 signify that it may be high enough to warrant a trip to the doctor.

The app also lets you note the time, location, and weather conditions for each reading. The latter is important because very cold weather or high temperatures can put people who have heart disease at risk for heart failure.

Hong says that the MOCAheart app uses its own index instead of giving people their blood pressure measurements because the device currently isn’t FDA-approved as a blood pressure monitor (though the startup might apply in the future). This is a potential drawback for people who need exact measurements, but on the other hand, if you just want an overview of your heart’s vital signs, the MOCA Index is easy to use and understand. The app does give you more precise measurements about your pulse and blood oxygen levels, and can be accessed by caregivers or family members.

The MOCAheart is targeted toward people, including the elderly, who need to keep track of their heart’s health, but can’t remember (or be bothered) to strap themselves into a blood pressure cuff everyday. MOCAheart can be slipped into a keychain holder or clicked into a specially designed smartphone case. Other cuffless blood pressure monitors out there include Viatom’s Checkme and Sotera Wireless’s ViSi Mobile monitor. MOCAheart wants to differentiate with the device’s sleek design and its app, which gives family members a quick way to monitor their love one’s health.

The device was developed partly with people like Hong’s parents in mind.

“When I was in the U.S., I’d call my parents and ask about their health. They kept insisting they were okay, even though my father actually had high blood pressure. Then he had a stroke. As a doctor, I felt I should have known earlier,” says Hong. “I wanted to create something that would make it easy for people to share track health data and share it with their families, so they can be alerted earlier if something needs to be checked out.”

MOCAheart has reached about a third of its $100,000 goal, which it needs to hit by Dec. 25. The device starts at $119 and is estimated to ship in April, a delivery date Hong is confident MOCA will be able to hit because they already have a final working prototype and manufacturers lined up in Taiwan. For more information about MOCAheart, visit its Kickstarter page.

Source:  http://techcrunch.com/2014/11/27/mocaheart/

Sony E-ink Watch by Gavin Lau

FESWatch

Almost every tech hardware maker is basically racing smart watches out the door, but Sony is looking at how it can re-invent the basic timekeeping device itself with a new special project that was only just now revealed to be associated with the Japanese electronics giant, despite popping up on a crowdfunding site months ago. The so-called FES Watch, which uses e-paper for both the face and a wraparound band, initially kept the Sony name out of the mix to see how well it would fare in the public forum without the power of branding.

FES Watch was instead billed as the product of a company called Fashion Entertainments, but that group is actually a team of Sony employees looking at how e-paper can be used to manufacture fashion goods. The WSJ reports that it wants to make e-paper thought of as a fabric in the fashion realm, good for making things like watches, bow ties, hat accessories or any other number of worn items. The Fashion Entertainments unit is led by Hiroki Totoki, the new head of Sony’s smartphone efforts, and is part of a program of internal entrepreneurship conceived by Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai.

The FES Watch project has already raised well over $17,000 on the crowdfunding site, meaning it passed tis goal and should go to production. The decision to hide Sony’s involvement meant Fashion Entertainments could get a better sense for how the idea would fare, without any influencing effects from being associated with Sony’s brand name. Often, startups say they go to crowdfunding sites not necessarily to raise money, but to test market viability and gather feedback before a product launch, or to help them raise traditional VC cash, so while Sony’s move is not unprecedented, it may be the largest company to have employed this kind of tactic.

Turning e-paper into a fabric has a number of potential benefits – including the ability to change pattern and design of things you’re wearing in an instant, including coloured options using newer color e-ink technology. The material’s extremely low power draw means it should be able to last a long time without charging, and items made using it could easily be made to change their appearance based on movement and basic behavior, using simple motion sensors. Smart functions (i.e., notifications and communication with smartphones) might also be possible, but the spirit of the project is to keep things simple so that e-paper gets perceived as fabric or building block, and less as tech.

Pre-order customers will get their devices after next May, but there’s no word yet on general availability for the FES Watch. It’s definitely causing a stir, though, so hopefully Sony makes this more broadly available.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2014/11/28/sony-e-ink-watch-aims-to-make-low-power-screens-the-next-big-thing-in-fashion-fabric/

 

Withings New Smartwatch Looks Good Playing Dumb by Gavin Lau

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Here’s a curveball for you: Withings, which is an excellent fitness-based electronics company with all kinds of fun products like trackers and smart scales, has just bested all the smartwatch makers out there with the new Activité watch.

At first glance, it looks like any other old analog watch. It has a clean white face, a leather band, and all the class and glamour of a night at the Oscars. But it’s much smarter than it looks.

The Activité was designed in Paris and made in Switzerland, and comes with enough sensors to measure distance covered (either walking, running, or swimming), sleep quality, and calories burned throughout the day.

As it has a traditional analog face, these stats need to be seen through the complementary Health Mate app from Withings, which already exists for other Withings products, meaning you can have a full suite of sensors at any given moment looking after your health.

As you may have guessed, the new Withings watch can tell the time and automatically switch time zones based on where you are.

But I haven’t gotten to the best part yet: The battery lasts a year.

Up until now, the only player to compete on that level is the Garmin VivoFit, which is a clunky little son of a gun.

The new Withings Activité watch will be available in two colors starting this fall for $390.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/24/withings-new-smartwatch-looks-good-playing-dumb/?utm_campaign=fb&ncid=fb

Tinitell Is A Wearable Phone And GPS Tracker For Kids by Gavin Lau

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Wearables continue to be an area of focus for device makers, large and small. Here’s another would-be entrant to the space: Tinitell is a wearable phone and GPS tracker for kids, with electronics small enough for the whole device to be strapped to a toddler’s wrist.

It’s the work of a Swedish startup, founded last year, which has taken to Kickstarter to raise $100,000 to turn its prototype into a shipping commercial product by April next year. At the time of writing they are just shy of $30,000 pledged, with 29 days left of the campaign to run.

As well as being small, Tinitell is designed for basic operation. This connected wearable doesn’t have a screen on the device itself, with just a hardware button to activate the interface, and voice recognition to summon a particular contact.

Say ‘Mum’ and it will call the assigned number based on that pre-recorded voice label. There is also a way to cycle through contacts manually, using physical volume keys, and wait until the device has spoken the name of the contact you want to call.

The voice interface is based on matching what’s being said to pre-recorded name labels, rather than being fully fledged voice recognition software — which helps keep the processing power requirements down.

Contacts are added to the device via Tinitell’s website or via an app. This also allows for parents to manage who can contact their child’s device, and also locate it on a map should they need to.

Tinitell takes a 2G GSM SIM for connectivity, to power the voice calls and GPS tracking. It’s battery powered, and apparently good for an hour’s talk time on a single charge or seven days on standby. It’s also water resistant and sandbox proof, to ensure it’s robust enough for outdoor child’s play.

“I came up with the idea for Tinitell when I was hanging out with a friend who is also a father,” says founder Mats Horn. “His son wanted to go outside and play, but he didn’t have a cell phone. He had lost a cell phone once before, and we didn’t feel like lending out our smartphones. Worst of all, we couldn’t join him outside because we were busy cooking dinner. His son ended up playing in his room with his iPad, and I thought that was sad.

“I loved being outside when I was a kid… This led me to think there should be a simple mobile phone for kids, nothing advanced, just a nicely designed speaker and microphone to handle quick ‘hellos’ and ‘come heres’.”

Horn argues that market for a simple mobile for kids is “largely untapped” — although it must be said that there are a lot of kids phones already out there. But the wearable aspect of Tinitell gives it the advantage of being harder for the child to lose than a phone. It’s also arguably less obtrusive than other GPS tracker systems for parents to keep tabs on kids, such as Locca. Whether those are big enough advantages to get parents flocking to buy Tinitell remains to be seen.

Wearable devices are certainly going through a sort of Cambrian Explosion of incarnations at present, as companies try to figure out the use cases and form factors that stick. (On the not-going-to-stick front, I’m pretty sure you can write off the ridiculously unwieldy Rufus Cuff, for one.)

Tinitell’s bet is there is space for dedicated connected kids’ wearables. And they are not the only startup to think so — the Moff Bluetooth bangle is a wearable toy that augments the gestures of play with sound effects. There’s also the Guardian Bluetooth Low Energy-powered tracker wristband, also designed specifically for parents to keep tabs on kids.

Cost is likely to be a key factor in whether these kids’ wearables flourish or perish. Tinitell is being offered to early Kickstarter backers starting from $99 — rising to $149 once early pledge levels are claimed. So it’s not exactly cheap.

Tinitell’s Horn says he’s been funding development on the device through private stipends and loans, thus far. The startup also won Sweden’s largest entrepreneurship competition in 2013.

http://youtu.be/r1mW1S4ZJWc

 

Fitness Tracking Comes To Your Ankle by Gavin Lau

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Fitness Tracking on Your Ankle Flyfit isn't all that different from other pedometer-based fitness trackers –– except you put it on your ankle instead of your wrist.

That's useful for swimmers and cyclists, who didn't get any joy out of the Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band or Jawbone Up. But Flyfit can measure pedal and leg stroke movements.

Flyfit, a Kickstarter project, has been in development since 2012. Like most fitness trackers, it will still record other aspects of your daily activity — your steps, your sleep cycle. It will also connect with your phone via Bluetooth, allowing the device to track pace, speed and your GPS position, all in real time.

The device includes a waterproof, USB-chargeable battery and five different band colors. The battery can last a week in low-power mode. The app, still in development, will be available for both iOS and Android.

 

Source: http://mashable.com/2014/02/20/flyfit-fitness-tracker/

The War For Your Wrist by Gavin Lau

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The past decade has seen the consumer electronics war grow more furious and more personal: your living room is a battlefield, as are your desks and your pockets. Now, more than a year-and-a-half since the Pebble (née Allerta) team saw its e-Paper smartwatch concept shatter a $100,000 Kickstarter funding goal, gadget purveyors of all stripes are vying for a spot on your wrist. http://techcrunch.com/2013/12/08/the-war-for-your-wrist/?

The world's most elegant physical activity monitor by Gavin Lau

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The Misfit Shine is, in a word, gorgeous, like a sci-fi movie prop from a Minority Report future. It’s clear that many people want to exercise and look good at the same time- witness high-end yoga pants and other accessories. But most folks are resigned to a dongle, a hunk of plastic or an unappealing watch, because they are simple and effective and easy to understand. The disc-shaped Shine upends these conventions, and is certainly the most stylish activity monitor that we’ve seen. http://www.misfitwearables.com