David Weis

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23 February 2017

Week Two: Wearable

by David Weis

This week’s topic: Wearable technology!

I like wearable technology. Even if I may currently not own any. I used to have a Pebble smartwatch. And I loved it to death. But it died. And Pebble was bought by another company and stopped selling them. I think the reason number one for why I love wearable technology is because I grew up watching Sci-Fi movies and a wrist computer or a heads-up display or a smart watch was always somewhere in there. And let’s be honest. With how closely knitted we are with our smartphones nowadays it’s pretty much as if they were attached to our bodies. The only reason I current don’t own a smart watch is that I don’t find the selection very appealing. None of them offer much performance or battery life or functionality without being weirdly tied to a single brand. That’s what I loved about the pebble. It was incredibly easy to create programs for it. You had a cloud based editor that would upload straight to your watch and a you could simply write small scripts that would be executed on the pebble app in your phone so you didn’t even have to create an app to have a functionality that requires communication with your phone. The only problem being that the smart watch itself couldn’t really do much. With the limited battery life, you had to be pretty careful with how much data you tried to transfer and the awkward non touch low res display made it useless for any applications that required nice control or decent display. Add the fact that you only had three buttons and even those weren’t very comfortable to click and there isn’t much you can do with it.

The android smartwatch of today are much nicer than that and I do plan on buying some one day but for now there weren’t any that really impressed me. Another reason that I am not that interested is that I surprisingly like using my phone on my wrist. I own several armbands that allow you to attach your phone to your wrist (including one that I 3D printed) and use it as a wrist computer and I used them quite a lot. And it’s also surprisingly comfortable. I even used it recently. I made a small robotic rover that was controlled from a phone app and it’s a pretty nice experience when you just attach your phone to your wrist and control a robot with it. I also have a small universal controller app that just has few buttons and sends messages over RabbitMQ and I can listen to it from multiple devices so that way I can easily write a small program and have an immediate remote controller even without having to create a new android app. I did this with my Raspberry Pis before and it worked really well. I also attached an Arduino with a Bluetooth dongle to my coffee machine to make it remote controlled and made a small app that can control it and the feeling when you just tap your hand and your coffee machine starts brewing coffee is pretty impressive.

But of course, wearables don’t end at smart watches. By far not. I’d say that smartwatches are probably the most boring kind of wearable you can even come up with. Some impressive wearables would be intelligent clothing, intelligent bracelets or even AR glasses like the somewhat failed Google Glass or the HoloLens that I had the pleasure to use at work and will hopefully get to spend a lot more time while working on my bachelor project.

HoloLens Demo

I would actually gladly wear a HoloLens everyday if I didn’t get strange looks if I wore it in public and it was a bit more comfortable.

There are also very interesting applications of wearable technology in medical sector as well. Even if I am not entirely sure if you would still classify them as wearable but under skin medical pumps that automatically release medication in regulated doses, insulin pumps and many other.

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tags: games - vr - mix - unity - wearables