New York City played host to the 2013 Wearable Tech Expo, where companies working at the intersection of technology and apparel and accessories showcased their latest innovations.
The ideas did overlap. For instance, both HzO and Liquipel developed water resistant coating for gadgets. HzO’s WaterBlock technology creates an impenetrable cover of “bonded molecules” using a formula with organic polymer as its base. Liquipel has a similar Watersafe technology. Both coatings promise water-resistant protection, even if the device is briefly submerged.
Keeping Google Glass company in the eyewear technology field was Vuzix. The company shared its smart glasses M100 model, which connects to the user’s smartphone and is data-enabled. The cloud-connected device runs on native Android OS and can operate in various modes: standalone, smartphone or while running apps. One of the possible uses is in warehousing.
Entervise, presented by Motorola Solutions and Intelligent Product Solutions (IPS), continued in the warehouse theme. The software is a voice- and gesture-driven systems solution that is currently available on the Motorola headset computer, the HC1. Steve Aponte from IPS shared his view on the product, saying “We wanted to allow real-time collaboration between experts across the world and people in the field, in healthcare and other areas.” The information is displayed on the HC1’s screen with the clarity of a 15-inch display, and a telephone conversation can continue in the headset. The example the team shared was of a warehouse working using Entervise to go through the assembly manual of a piece of equipment.
GN Store Nord brought the Intelligent Headset, with apps like Urban X, which is an exploration guide for tourists and Knowledge X, which takes learning out of the classroom and into the real world, beginning with language classes. The +True3DAudio technology uses a 3D algorithm to provide a multisource audio experience during gaming, for instance.
Moving on to sports and fitness tech. Silica Labs, Valencell, Misfit Wearables and Sportracker all tried to bring something new to the table. Focusing on Google Glass, Silica Labs is working on Glassfit, a fitness app designed to provide “relevant information, when you want it and at the time you want it,” according to Noble Ackerson, VP of product development. PerformTek Precision Biometrics was Valencell’s innovation. Steven LeBoeuf, president of the company, said, “We’re a tech provider in the space of wearable electronics, not a product company.” The PerformTek technology, which is licensed to others, can be integrated into any device worn during exercise, such as armbands or earphones, and will display with great accuracy information like heart rate, cadence, pace, speed and distance. The smartphone app has features like a calendar that stores the user’s information for each day.
Another fitness-related technology that can be embedded into any wearable device is SporTracker. A 10mm x 10mm sensor uses radar-like technology to monitor a user’s heart rate. The two main markets that the company is targeting are fitness and wellness (wearable tech) and infotainment (smart watches). Misfit Wearables presented Shine, a physical activity monitor. It’s the shape and size of a quarter and can be worn “anywhere, for any occasion.” The design is simple: once a user sets his/her daily activity goal, dots light up on the circular surface indicating the percentage of the goal achieved. The device lasts 4-6 months, is waterproof and measures non-step activities also, such as laps completed in the pool.
Adidas Sports Electronics had a new toy as well – micoach. The range-of-performance monitoring products include a SPEED_CELL, a pacer bundle, heart monitor, and apps and accessories for smartphones. Criteria like speed, acceleration, distance and heart rate can be monitored. Clothing +, from Finland, has been producing textile-integrated sensors since 1998. The company uses embroidered conductive yarns to make products like the Polar WearLink, the Myontec EMG pants that measure muscle activity, and the Philips Heart Cycle Vest that can predict up to 2 weeks in advance whether a person is susceptible to fluid filling his lungs. Mikko Malmivaara, head of new business and media at the company, said, “Sensing will be a basic function for all premium sports underwear within the next five years.”
Monisha Perkash from LUMO BodyTech, French company VEA Product Design and Greg Roberts from dSky9 shared their products, too. Perkash showcased LUMOback, an app that monitors the user’s posture while connected to a sensor belt worn around the waist. Every time the user’s posture is not up to the mark, he/she will receive a gentle buzzing reminder from the belt to straighten up. The app scores the user for his/her daily posture and also records information like daily time spent sitting, walking and sleeping.
VEA Digital brought their Bluetooth, smartphone-friendly watch – Buddy. The watch acts as the smartphone interface, allowing the user to answer calls, check emails and texts, browse pictures or use social media platforms without having to check his/her phone. The company raised $100,000 on Indiegogo earlier this year and will be available sometime this August. Favestar was dSky9’s latest app, allowing users to “bookmark their favorite moments in real life,” according to co-founder Greg Roberts. Developed for Google Glass and iOS, the app lets you take pictures, tag people and store other information like location, date and time. It also provides purchase links for the items the user is looking at, like an Amazon link to a book that the user might see.
Toyshoppe Systems showcased products made for Hollywood movies, such as helmets that light up, and launched their Indiegogo campaign to provide entry level and advanced users with the education, tools and kits to create their own gizmos.
One of the last presenters of the evening was Mike Freeman from MaxVirtual. His revolutionary product was the Cynaps Cap, which uses Bluetooth bone conduction to send audio vibrations to the ears of people who are partially or almost completely deaf. This gives a large percent of people the opportunity to hear for the first time. However, those suffering from inner ear or nerve damage will not benefit from this product. Freeman is working on Cynaps Enhance and the first batch will be ready by early September.
Awards were presented, and the winners are:
Best Device Award: Misfit Wearables
Best Advanced Technology Award: HzO
Best in Show Award: MaxVirtual
Audience Choice Award: MaxVirtual