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Ever since Apple announced that it was building its own smartwatch, fans of wearables have been eager to see what the Cupertino company would deliver. Whether you love it or hate it, Apple has a reputation for excellence, and for waiting until it can deliver a superior experience that make previous products from lesser companies look like floundering newbies by comparison. Now, that long-time reputation for excellence may be sorely tested by the one force in the universe that remains impervious to the company’s Reality Distortion Field — physics.
New reports indicate that while the Apple Watch will pack significant processing power and a fluid, 60Hz display, it won’t deliver much in the way of battery life. 9to5 Mac is claimingthat the CPU inside the Watch is close in power to the Apple A5 and running a stripped-down version of iOS known as SkiHill.
The consumer world is becoming powered by mobile devices, but those devices are still powered by being tethered to a wall or a reserve power pack. What if you could generate power for your mobile devices simply by moving your body, and the power source was almost unnoticeable? A new device developed at the National University of Singapore aims to fulfill both of those requirements.
The flexible nanogenerator resembles a small, stamp-sized patch that attaches to your skin. It uses your skin as a source of static electricity, and converts it to electrical energy — reportedly enough to power a small electronic device, like a wearable. The device, presented at the MEMS 2015 conference last week, can generate 90 volts of open-circuit voltage when tapped by a finger. The researchers presented the patch as a self-powered device that can track the wearer’s motion.
Via Technology said it will be asking OEMs to build its concept of a “Hi-Fi PC”, which it launched at the opening of its Via Technology Forum in Taiwan.
According to Via, The Hi-Fi PC combines instant-on playback of all the latest digital video and audio formats, including CD, DVD and VCD with the flexibility, power and connectivity of a standard PC system. Housed in a sleek 19cm wide x 19cm high x 34cm deep aluminium case, the Hi-Fi PC includes a unique feature: PlayNow!, a full functioned multimedia player contained within the flash memory of the BIOS, is the key to the instant-on application, enabling rapid optical disk play capability at the touch of a button. A user can then boot the PC.
Central to the Hi-Fi PC is the Via EPIA M mainboard, a new 17 cm by 17 cm platform solution to be launched soon that is optimized for the killer digital media applications, such as watching movies and listening to music, Via said. The Via EPIA M mainboard is based on the Via Apollo CLE266 chipset with an integrated MPEG-2 decoder and 2D/3D graphics capability to provide superb DVD playback, and integrates several Via technologies that provide high quality audio, Fast Ethernet networking and support for the latest communications standards USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 ‘Firewire’. There is also a TV-out to either analog or digital displays.
Researchers at Northwestern University have devised a new method of creating large volumes of high-quality graphene, and then printing flexible graphene patterns with an inkjet printer that are 250 times more conductive than previous attempts.
When it comes to the next generation of electronics and computing, graphene has a unique combination of properties that make it an almost ideal material. Not only is it extremely conductive, but it’s very strong, chemically stable, and flexible. There are just two problems: It’s very hard to produce pure graphene in large quantities, and it’s proving quite hard to use graphene as a semiconductor (it doesn’t contain the all-important bandgap). Today, it seems like Northwestern may have solved the first problem — but the bandgap issue still remains at large.
Historically, graphene is produced through mechanical exfoliation — a fancy term that essentially means “peeling off layers of graphite using sticky tape.” This produces high-quality graphene, but it’s impossible to scale up to commercial production. Researchers have recently grown pure graphene on a copper substrate, using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), but it’s still a very slow process, and it’s unlikely to produce graphene in the quantities that we require. The better option for mass production is solution-phase exfoliation — flaking off graphene from graphite using a liquid solvent — but previous attempts have only produced very low quality flakes that don’t possess many of graphene’s “wonder material” properties. Now Northwestern has devised a new method, using ethanol and ethyl cellulose, that can be used to mass produce flakes of fairly high quality graphene.
Apple gave us “one more thing” at its product announcement earlier this week, and just as expected, it was a smartwatch. The Apple Watch unveiling comes a few months afterAndroid Wear devices started hitting the market, and that might have contributed to the state of the presentation — the Apple Watch isn’t done yet. It won’t be on sale until next year, but Apple apparently felt it had to show us how it was approaching wrist computing, and it’s much different than Android Wear. Is either approach any better, though?
Both Google and Apple agree that smartwatches are not phones and should not be treated as such. However, they can take over from your phone in a few important ways. Probably the most common use for watches is as a notification center for your wrist. Apple Watch and Android Wear are able to automatically display the notifications that appear on your phone, which saves you from pulling the phone out of your pocket.
Virgin Atlantic is taking wearable tech to the skies. USA Today reports that concierges for the airline have today begun wearing Google Glass to aid in the process of checking in passengers. With the information closer than their fingertips, concierges will be able to offer passengers the latest flight, weather and event information. Glass will also offer the valuable ability to translate languages.
The articles states that at some point, the device will also be able to link a person will their food and beverage preferences. Director of information technology for Virgin Atlantic Dave Bulman said, “The whole industry needs to listen to what these passengers are calling for, and keep innovating to bring a return to the golden age of air travel. Flying should be a pleasure, not a chore.’
This project, which was launched with the help of SITA, an information technology company, will last for a six-week trial period. Should everything go well, the program could be extended to other airports.
Do you view this as a luxury experience for travel? Would it disturb you to be called by name by someone you’ve never seen before and have them know your flying preferences? It does give back a sense of importance to passengers but is it more important to recognize that all passenger information is being uploaded and shared by Virgin Atlantic concierges?
As wearable technology expands into use by various members of different professions, its great to see industries that don’t usually adopt technology quickly jump on the bandwagon. But it will also be interesting to see how privacy concerns are met.
On Friday, October 13th 2006, I suffered a traumatic brain injury in a near fatal car accident as I was traveling home from boarding school. I was placed in a medically induced coma for six days to relieve brain swelling. I was released four days later to return to school. When I awoke, I could not recognize my parents, brother, friends, or even recall my name. In order to discover what happened to me, I had to read an article in the Boston Globe that my parents had saved. I would recover my memory before my release, but the accident taught me about the fragility of life, memory, and identity. As a survivor of head injury, I believe that wearable computers will offer me the most assistance to overcome my injury.
In 2011, I was fortunate to discover one of the coolest startups for a wonderful storytelling application. Evergram was founded in December 2011, imagined as a powerful new application to collect stories and thoughts to be shared. It can even be used as a personal journal for self-reflection. I recognize the power this application gives to create great moments for genuine communication. I imagine father’s leaving precious wisdom behind, similar to Howard Stark’s recorded remark to Tony in Iron Man 2. In February 2013, Google announced the upcoming beta launch of their newest device, a foray into wearable computers, Google Glass.
Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display that can communicate with the Internet and record video and audio through voice commands. The effortless use of the camera becomes the device’s single greatest triumph as a new technology, and at the same time its biggest impediment to acceptance by the public, due to the possibility for misuse and the invasion of privacy. However, the candid mentality of memory preservation and communication behind Evergram can define and improve the purpose of the platform provided by Google Glass. With its 2014 launch to the public, Glass has tremendous potential to enhance the lives of many, mine included.
School has simply never been the same. Tasks such as note taking, keeping attentive, and participating in discussions became more difficult than before. I had missed eight days of classes — eight days worth of quizzes, tests, notes, and essays. In order to catch up, my school aided me in getting notes from my classmates and in granting me extensions on any missed homework assignments. As helpful as all these measures were, I noticed that nothing compares to being there in the moment — so much learning is achieved simply by being attentive and participating in class. My school established this idea by enforcing punishments, ranging from stricter weekday and weekend curfews to suspension, for missing more than four classes a semester. On top of catching up in class, I had to pursue outpatient therapy to recover from my injuries. Glass could have tremendously eased my recovery, allowing me not only to review the classes I missed, but also to record future classes for better preparation.
After missing out on ten days at school and six actual days of consciousness, I became a severe sufferer of FOMO. I gained a new appreciation for life, enjoying and cherishing every second as a momentous occasion, never again taking it for granted. I realized that there are so many things that I had done, joys and pains experienced, a near infinite amount of memories that would never happen again. I dreamed for a long-time of being able to experience those missed events as someone in the moment, that as easily as I could forget everything defining me, that one day I could just as easily recall, even relive the more intimate memories of my life, and I recognize the opportunity that Google Glass provides to realize this dream.
I introduced Evergram not to suggest some novel, genius way of using Google Glass, but merely point out the way that this revolutionary platform it provides could have and will improve my life. Glass goes far beyond any other device in its ability to capture precious memories whilst avoiding distraction, the loss of attention the user experiences while using technology. Its powerful ability to record from the first-person gives it a distinct advantage for the collection of important memories, reflections, and thoughts. Everyone has a story worth sharing with someone at some time, and everyone deserves the ability to share it. Perhaps, it is the dreamer in me, but I imagine a future where our great defining memories can be shared to achieve the truest sense of genuine communication, an ability to not only tell someone something, but also to show them. I see Google Glass as a critical platform in achieving this bright future of memory preservation. With the development of Glass, Evergram, and many more apps, neither discussed nor created yet, I see the possibility created for the easy collection and transmission of memories and thoughts. Google Glass remains the next major device of wearable technology to empower its users to enjoy, share, improve, and remember their lives.