Waiting for the ultimate wearable gadget


Working out just how much you’re working out – wearable technology does it best, according to manufacturers.

Among the hundreds of products presented at the recent Wearable Technology Show in London was MyZone new compression top for men, featuring embedded heart electrodes connected to a clip-on module, which measures the user’s heart rate and calories burned. The data is transferred to an app via Bluetooth, enabling the user to analyse the information on a compatible device.

The major plus, claim its creators, is accuracy.

“Wrist trackers, whether it’s accelerometers or the latest, optical blood flow – it shines a light through the wrist and predicts what the pulse is – is great if the wrist is a repeatable and a predictable movement, but you know, in life, in activity, it’s not necessarily the case, so what we’ve done is we’ve picked up the electrical impulses from the heart and so therefore, it’s accurate,” said MyZone CEO, Dave Wright.

Others are tapping into the lucrative golfing market.

TomTom’s GPS-equipped watch can detect when you take a swing, giving players access to information about tens of thousands of golf courses around the world and offering post-game analysis. Scheduled for release in May, it is aimed at amateur golfers.

“There are rules and legislation around professional golfers using golfing aids. This is about taking interesting but quite technical data and bringing it to a mass market, so I think this is for everyone who plays golf and enjoys it on a regular basis. Probably less for the pros,” explained Tom Brown, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at TomTom.

Also on show at the Wearable Technology Show were otoscope and ophtalmoscope cases for smartphones developed by a London-based company. Used in conjunction with an app on your phone, they can take pictures of both ear and eye, which can then easily be shared with doctors.

Its developers say the device will allow cheaper and easier medical exams for people in remote areas.

“We see huge value for this in developing countries with large rural populations with extremely limited access to healthcare expertise,” said Cupris Health director, Mike Pallett. “So this could be used by people with no medical training with very limited training in the use of our platform, they can use this in the community, in clinics, and send this information back to healthcare professionals in the urban hubs who can provide a diagnosis without those individuals having to go in person.”

While there’s everything from sleeping aids to smart clothing on display, the wearable sector is still in its infancy. For technology geeks, there’s plenty on offer, but wearables haven’t gone mainstream yet according to experts.

According to Luke Westaway, senior editor at tech product review magazine Cnet.com: “There’s loads of creativity and loads of interesting avenues of exploration within the wearable market. What’s interesting though is we’re yet to see a particular single product that really ignites the public imagination. We haven’t seen a huge uptake really amid actual gadget buyers in terms of wearables. So we’re still waiting for that one product that really validates the whole category.”

And finally, it’s estimated between one third and half of the UK’s dogs are overweight. One Cambridge-based company has developped an activity monitor for dogs, offering owners an idea of just how much exercise their pet gets.

It connects to a smartphone app, which sets exercise goals based on a dog’s breed, age and weight.

“Dogs are completely reliant on their owners, they can’t feed themselves, they can’t exercise themselves, and to make sure they get the best care we need to help our owners. Not everyone knows the difference between what a poodle should get versus what a German Shepherd should get. So we’re just really trying to give owners an encouraging message, trying to help them and critically have fun with their dogs, because that’s what you have a dog for,” says PitPat CEO, Andrew Nowell.

In all, the London Wearable Technology Show brought together some 140 exhibitors from major firms to small start-ups, with Virtual Reality featuring heavily in exhibits.


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