The 5 most powerful people in wearables to watch this June
Jun04

The 5 most powerful people in wearables to watch this June

Editor’s note: In this new column, we will watch and report on who is making major moves and/or waves in the wearables industry. Check back at the beginning of each month to see the individuals who are directly impacting and shaping our collective future. From the hands weaving the best looking “smart jeans” you’ve ever seen to the masterminds measuring the extent of damage to professional athletes’ brains, below are the 5 people to watch in June.  Ivan Poupyrev, Technical Program Lead at Google ATAP + Founder of Project Jacquard In founding Google’s brilliant new endeavor Project Jacquard, Poupyrev has created the first gesture-interactive wearable technology. The conductive Jacquard thread can be woven into any cloth and can be used in any existing loom, giving it enormous versatility. The coolest part about it though is that when coupled with a small Bluetooth device, any article of clothing can be paired with any device to operate like a touch screen. Cooler still is the announcement of a partnership with Levi Strauss, with products set to roll out next year.   Jesse Harper, CEO of Biometrics i1 Biometrics first sprung onto the wearables circuit last fall when the company partnered with LSU in a program that equipped football players with the Vector mouthguard (pictured in featured image). Armed with a microchip, accelerometer, gyroscope, battery, and antenna, the device sent real-time data to the athletes’ trainers regarding the location and severity of impact to their players’ heads. At the beginning of June, i1 Biometrics acquired Shockbox, a helmet based technology that sends immediate smartphone alerts in the event of a dangerous head impact. We are interested to see how this revolutionary technology will integrate with professional sports, as well as mainstream consumers and athletes. Denise Gershbein, Executive Creative Director at design firm frog Frog design is far from unknown in the realm of industrial design, software, and brand management, so it should come as no surprise that the global company is venturing into the developing world of wearables. What is so special about this foray into the industry, however, is that it comes as a partnership with UNICEF by the name of Wearables for Good — a competition for a wearable (and simple!) device that somehow greatly improves the lives of people in developing countries. “We really should be looking beyond the walls of the Valley out to other use cases, whether it’s across the U.S. or across the world,” says Gershbein told Fast Company. “I think we also should be getting designers, researchers, anthropologists, and social impact folks all together to share use cases.” We’re with you, Denise. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a kingpin company embarking on a philanthropic pursuit.   Fritz Lanman, Executive Chairman at Doppler...

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ATAP envy: The two major takeaways from Google I/O
Jun03

ATAP envy: The two major takeaways from Google I/O

This year’s Google I/O, the search giant’s annual developers conference, proved to be a decent let down from an Android Wear perspective. At the much anticipated keynote, Google focused on the latest release of Wear (5.1.0), which brought features like wifi, gestures, and an improved launcher. But missing from the keynote was any insightful information as to the current amount of Android Wear users and activated devices — and there’s a good chance that the omission was owing to the fact that the sales of Android Wear would pale in comparison to that of the Apple Watch. However, even though this year’s keynote didn’t really give developers anything to sink our teeth into, it didn’t mean that I/O attendees left without anything to think about. Most exciting moments came from Google ATAP On the last day of the event, the morning session was given by the Google Advanced Technology and Products (ATAP) team. Since ATAP’s inception, the motto has been “Do epic shit!” As corny as it sounds, they always seem to find a way to stay true to it. Akin to Steve Jobs and his rag tag group of “pirates” from the first Mac team, Google ATAP is the R&D team that any company would be super excited to have. During the first few minutes of the session, Regina Dugan walked us through the newest projects that her team has been working on since the last we have heard from them. In the wearable realm, these projects included Project Jacquard and Project Soli, which both aim at tackling input for wearables in two very different ways. Project Jacquard is literally “technology woven in,” as stated on the project’s official website. In short, the team has found a way of weaving touch and gestural technology into garments and, possibly, furniture. Project Jacquard treats wearables less as an accessory and more as an integrated system with the clothes we already wear day-to-day. There was no direct announcement of any garments that can be purchased today or even in the future, however they did announce a strategic partner with Levi’s, the inventor of the blue jean, to help ATAP work on possible prototypes. Some day, Levi’s could be the first major brand to produce clothing embedded with wearable technology. … but hold your horses If you are as eager about tech as I am, now is a great time to temper your excitement. To date, ATAP has yet to push a project into “mass production.” Judging by the R&D nature of the team, I would expect a hand-off of the project to a delivery team — if it is ever green lit. At this point, anything ATAP does as an...

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Google’s smart clothing project could turn your pants into a touchscreen
Jun03

Google’s smart clothing project could turn your pants into a touchscreen

Google’s debut of Project Jacquard elevates the realm of smart clothing to heights yet unseen. Instead of a mere band or accessory, the project targets wearable technology on the most micro of levels: the actual threads in clothes. The yarn is a multi-fibered conductive braid that comes in a variety of covers and can be woven together to behave not unlike the touchscreen on your smartphone. The point here seems to be that our inevitable hurtling towards technological integration should be easy and seamless (no pun intended) like getting dressed already is, as opposed to bulky and extraneous, like some wearable gadget critics (not wrongfully) ascertain. Swipe a panel on your jacket, and dim the lights in your house. Tap your thigh, skip the song on your phone’s music player. But how practical and ultimately useful is this technology? Although Google has already announced its first partnership with Levi Strauss, project founder Ivan Poupyrev admits in an interview with Wired that the real issue at hand is figuring out what people want. “It is not a technology problem,” Poupyrev says. “Adding a full wearable LCD thing on your wrist, that’s easy. It’s really a design problem. Design, and cultural understanding.” Furthermore, the revolutionary aspect of the technology lies in the fact that its simple thread design fits into existing looms, which means manufacturing in bulk worldwide is cheap and simple. Poupyrev is quick to reiterate that the ultimate goal of Project Jacquard does not lie in making clothes. “You need to provide your solution to hundreds of brands at some point,” he says. “I don’t want to become a textile mogul. I don’t want to own factories everywhere. There are enough factories already. We just want to use those capacities right there.” So what might the future hold for this technology? If we imagine it in developing countries, perhaps it could provide health monitoring to nearby doctors for the pregnant or sick. If we apply it to household furniture, we may be able to control our homes simply by tapping the armrest of the couch, all while sitting down. We eagerly await the fruits of the Google-Levi collaboration as well as any future plans the project has in store for...

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Hit the open road with our 7 picks for high-tech motorcycle gear
May13

Hit the open road with our 7 picks for high-tech motorcycle gear

Editor’s Note: In the month of May, we’re focusing on how wearable technology can help users better experience the Great Outdoors. Rapid innovation within the industry has yielded devices catered towards everyone from avid campers and rock climbers to kayakers and motorcycle riders. Whichever way you prefer to experience Mother Nature, whether by using your own two hands or by riding atop two wheels, there is some piece of technology to help you improve your performance or enhance the experience.  Considering the Hero4’s ability to shoot 30 frames per second in ultra-high resolution, it comes as no surprise that MotoGP™ recently announced a five-year partnership with GoPro, a marriage that places motorcycle racing fans as close to feeling as though they are Valentino Rossi as humanly possible. But how about those of us who are not merely captivated by Grand Prix superstars, but for whom two wheels are our daily commute or weekend trail ride? Many riders already have GoPro cameras mounted on helmets, but the last year has brought with it exponential innovations in motorcycle gear aimed at safety and ease of use. Heads up! Winner of “Best Wearable Tech Company” at SXSW 2014 and easily the most advanced motorcycle helmet on the market, the Skully AR-1 features a transparent floating head up display (HUD) that gives the rider full situational awareness with a revolutionary 180° rearview camera. The introduction of a live blind spot view effectively minimizes the likelihood of blind spot related crashes. Essentially using the same technology we see in high-tech automobiles, Skully also uses voice control for hands-free calling, music streaming, and GPS navigation (although any seasoned rider would tell you that listening to music is less than safe, regardless of helmet capability). Currently available for pre-order in a matte black or glossy white at a mere $1,499, it is a beautiful yet un-affordable gadget for most riders. However, there is another helmet in the works that may give Skully a run for its money. Though just out of beta testing, The Guardian from Fusar Technologies also features an ultrawide rearview camera and HUD display, but will have added video recording capabilities intended to commit to hard memory exactly what transpired in the event of an accident — call it a visual black box. Pricing is as yet unannounced, but the helmet is expected to hit the market in the fall of 2015. Rule of 3 If you are happy with your helmet but still want to monitor your movement and environment without having to look down, BIKEHUD is an audio-visual gadget that clips onto your existing helmet and maintains safety by operating on what it calls the Rule of 3. For simplicity’s...

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A modern mood ring: Moodmetric’s smart jewelry reads your emotions
May11

A modern mood ring: Moodmetric’s smart jewelry reads your emotions

Editor’s Note:  Third Wave Fashion helps fashion brands, technology companies, and publishers do amazing things in the quickly merging worlds of fashion and tech, and publish a print magazine about fashion tech, the future of commerce, and wearables. The following is a post shared from the fashion tech think tank. Check back soon for more TWF interviews.   This Finnish startup provides an intriguing wearable: Imagine wearing a ring that can track your emotions, which can then help you to learn to control those emotions. We were fascinated to hear about such smart jewelry so we caught up with Moodmetric’s COO, Niina Venho, to find out more. Describe Moodmetric. Moodmetric is a startup based in Finland providing wearable technology for emotional wellbeing. It develops tools to measure stress and other cognitive load. The company vision is to help people to understand the loading and calming factors of life and know their emotional limits. Tell us about the Moodmetric ring. Stress and anxiety seem to present in our lives for good. Curing them with medication creates further problems, and people are seeking other methods. The Moodmetric ring helps in understanding what causes distress and what calms the mind. There are great applications, on-line tools, practices, courses, and coaches – we hope that everyone finds their best way for winding down. The Moodmetric ring can be the first step in analyzing one’s emotions, what affects them, and what can help to calm the racing mind. The Moodmetric Ring is a biosensor tracking emotional intensity. The combined smartphone app shows the tracked data as on-line measurement or daily figures uploaded at convenience. What inspired you to create the Moodmetric ring? The inventor Henry Rimminen has a Ph.D. in electronics. He was familiar with the electrodermal activity (EDA) measurement used in psychological research and wanted to see if it can be implemented in a ring form. EDA tells about emotional levels of the wearer and is a perfect indicator of the emotional load. He got the ring working, and he decided it needed to be made available for everyone. From the beginning it was a goal for us to make the ring beautiful. Wearing a carefully crafted piece of jewel lifts the mood – the tech inside helps to improve it even more! What sets your jewelry apart from other wearables? The Moodmetric Ring is not a fitness tracker nor an incoming call alert. It takes care of your emotions, and you can for instance score your meditation training without taking a single step. It is an elegant Scandinavian design product that subtly reads you. What has been the hardest obstacle for you in creating your jewelry? What has...

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