The Market Today
The wearable market is nothing new to people around the world. Every major company is vying to get their hands on a piece of the pie. The real question is, what's the point? Are these products designed to enhance our lives, keep us alive longer, or just distract us from the real world as they so often buzz and beep? Here is a look at some innovative wearable products that are designed to help you live a longer, healthier life.
Google Smart Contact
That's right people, a contact lens designed to give you super powers! Well not quite. This technology is designed to be worn without the user ever really knowing its there, aimed at helping people with diabetes monitor glucose levels in their tears. This new idea is more than just a concept. Google is currently working with Novartis to test the lenses sometime in 2016.
Image courtesy of Google.
In the patent, published on March 22, 2016, Google describes it as; "an eye-mountable device includes an electrochemical sensor embedded in a polymeric material configured for mounting to a surface of an eye. The electrochemical sensor includes a working electrode and a reference electrode that reacts with an analyte to generate a sensor measurement related to a concentration of the analyte in a fluid to which the eye-mountable device is exposed."
In simpler terms, it works by sending a readout of the glucose level from the sensor embedded in the lens once every second through a wireless antenna no thicker than a human hair encircling the perimeter. The transmitted data is thought to be sent to a larger wearable, one designed for easy use by the user, but we haven't seen or heard about any of those design details.
"Our dream is to use the latest technology in the miniaturization of electronics to help improve the quality of life for millions of people," - Google co-founder Sergey Brin
There are no talks of pricing for the product let alone the licensing of the tech to other companies. However, Verily, the Google Life Sciences offshoot, look to leverage it for their own for future developments. We can only speculate that this would include applications such as real-time eye correction or a slew of other Google patents waiting to be created now that a proof of concept is well under way.
Skarkbanz Shark Deterrent Wearable
Sharkbanz uses an interesting low-tech approach to solving the shark attack problem for ocean enthusiasts. Being that their products will be utilized in harsh salt-water conditions, they have given up on any sort of electrical circuit in favor of a proprietary magnetic technology. Their angle is to disorient the attacker through animal magnetoreception, a type of sensory perception of direction, altitude, or location. While this topic is theoretical and largely controversial, this very specific magnetic technology is used to over stimulate the shark, thus leading them off the course of attack. Much of the science can be analyzed in greater detail on Sharkdefense.com.
Now we're not thrilled with risking our lives to determine the validity of the technology, so we'll leave that up to Sharkbanz to verify that it works. In lieu of any skepticism, Sharkbanz published a research document in hopes of gaining credibility, but it's not going to be easy convincing buyers that the product works without some strong testimony from the userbase.
"When a shark swims through the earth's magnetic field, electromagnetic induction – phenomena which generates an electric field as charged particles move through a magnetic field – creates an electric field around the shark" - Sharkdefense.com
This technology is interesting in itself, however, the biggest takeaway is that engineers can still succeed in finding the simplest, most effective way to solve a problem; something most engineers strive for despite the difficulty.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States with 611,105 annually, so it seems like a logical problem to solve. The ARC Pendant aims to provide real-time feedback needed to notify users when their ticker needs a bit of rest.
The hardware is fairly simple, utilizing 6 haptic feedback motors connected to an Intel Edison. On the software, ARC Pendant offers voice control and can be configured to each individual user with the addition of integrated mobile apps and new sensors to be determined in the future.
"If you’re running too fast and your heart rate exceeds the optimum zone, a trigger can send pulses to tell you to take it easier."
What's more impressive is that this product is the result of being a top 10 finalist in the Intel Make it Wearable Challenge competing for $500,000. Not a bad reason to design a potentially significant product considering the positive effects it will have on people who use it to protect themselves from any heart-related issues.