Weekly Wearables Roundup: FysioPal, Sony N, Samsung Viv, Fossil Q series, UMass

Weekly Wearables Roundup: FysioPal, Sony N, Samsung Viv, Fossil Q series, UMass

1. Smart Top for Correcting Posture

FysioPal is a smart top designed by Dutch fashion designer Pauline Van Dongen, to correct bad upper-body posture by alerting the wearer when they are hunching. Van Dongen worked in cooperation with tactile displays company Elitac to create FysioPal. Designed to be worn as an undershirt, it contains sensors that pair with a smartphone app. The top measures the position of the neck, shoulders and back, and  these measurements are then sent to the app, which visualises the data and assesses the wearer’s overall posture. If it detects a hunch, the top will vibrate, alerting the wearer to change how they are sitting or standing. The app also provides users with daily training programmes, hourly posture analysis and monthly overall feedback.

According to Van Dongen, there was a strong focus on picking suitable materials, with the right amount of stretch that could provide comfort but would also fit with the requirements of the electronics. The top is designed to be minimal, with clean lines and a simple silhouette. The electronics are laminated into the textiles, made by Swiss textile company Schoeller. This eliminates the need for wiring running through the top, allowing it to have a stretch and making it suitable for machine washing. This novel wearable will be a perfect fusion of fashion and technology.

2. Sony N Wearable

The Sony N wearable is part of Sony’s new Future Lab program. The whole gear comprises the wearable itself, an optional pair of open-ear headphones and the personal assistant called Nigel, a “personalized radio” which is how Sony describes Nigel. It looks vaguely like a pair of Sony Walkman headphones scrunched around your neck. Some six inches in diameter and light for a few minutes around your neck, roughly weighing about 0.17 lbs (77 g), but probably less comfortable while jogging or cycling.

There are four directional mics that can tell exactly when you are speaking, not someone else, as well as the pair of 600 mW speakers that are mounted inside them, facing upward. When you play music, those speakers fire up and into your ears, providing a surprisingly rich, directional sound that’s certainly audible to the world around you. That’s where the open-ear headphones come in: They allow you to hear the world around you, while still playing back notifications and reminders. They plug into the N via a microUSB connector.

The N comes with 8GBs of storage space, an undisclosed CPU, plus a host of sensors: built-in GPS to track your activities, an accelerometer, Bluetooth 4.1 and even NFC. The battery life is around 3 to 5 hours when using the speakers, or 6.5 hours when using the headphones, which is something sluggish. There’s also an 8MP camera. A physical shutter hides the lens when not in use, and when photos or video are being shot, a red light turns on. When you do take a photo, however, the N lines up your shot, focusing on what it thinks you’re looking at and even firing off a burst of shots at your command. That’s where N’s digital assistant, Nigel, begins to show up. Earlier Nigel could barely play a song but now it can do much, much more. Being truthful enough it still needs to sweat out a bunch of new features before it can break into the big leagues.

Sony says another key feature will be N’s ability to advise you of goings-on about town as you wander the city. So far, though, that capability is limited just to greater San Francisco, and there was really no way to test in the limited space. At this point, N isn’t much more than an intriguingly feature-rich, though flawed prototype. It’s not a product, yet, and there’s no guarantee that it will ever be. It will be up to Sony’s product teams to allow Nigel and the N to flourish, or let things go turtle.

3. Voice Assistant for Samsung Devices

Samsung is looking forward to develop an artificially intelligent assistant for its gadgets. The South Korean tech firm announced its plans to buy Viv Labs, which helped to develop the iPhone’s voice assisted software. According to Samsung, it wants to incorporate the Californian firm’s Viv AI assistant into its Galaxy smartphones and expand voice assistant services to home appliances and wearable technology devices.

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Samsung, the world’s top smartphone maker, is also hoping to differentiate its devices, from phones to fridges, by incorporating AI. The financial terms of the deal are yet to be disclosed, but the acquisition of Viv could help the Korean firm shore up its competitiveness. “Viv brings in a very unique technology to allow us to have an open system where any third-party service and content providers can add their services to our devices’ interfaces,” Injong Rhee, Samsung’s executive vice president, told Reuters in an interview.

Technology firms are locked in an increasingly heated race to make AI good enough for consumers to interact with their devices more naturally, especially via voice control. While Google is widely considered to be the leader in AI, others including Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have also launched their own offerings including voice-powered digital assistants.

4. Fossil Q series smartwatches

Global luxury accessories maker Fossil Group on Wednesday entered the wearable segment in India by unveiling a range of connected devices that include smart watches, hybrid watches and fitness trackers. The wearable devices span across six of Fossil Group’s licensed brands; Fossil Q, Michael Kors Connected, Skagen Connected, Chaps, Emporio Armani and Misfit.

Fossil’s Q Wander smartwatch features a soft curving, multi-finish case and comes with interchangeable genuine leather strap. Q Marshal features a rugged case along with a navy blue plated case paired with vintage-inspired leather straps. Both Q Wander and Q Marshal feature Always On Display, allowing users to access important information like time, calls and alerts anytime. Users can also respond to messages from the watch by tapping the screen or by using voice commands. The collection is priced between Rs 21,995-Rs 22,595.

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Michael Kors enters the connected world through Michael Kors Access, featuring designs based on the Bradshaw and Dylan styles, and comes with customizable display and functionality to keep users equipped with features like connectivity, activity tracking, voice activation, customizable display faces and wireless charging. Both the styles are available in the price range of Rs 25,995 to Rs 29,495. Skagen debuts with Skagen Connected, a wearable technology line. The initial collection will include the Hagen Connected hybrid smartwatches and a Skagen Connected activity tracker. These variants are priced between Rs 14,295 to Rs 15,495.

The Chaps connected hybrid smart watch is for customers who want all the functionality of a world-class tracker with notifications hidden in a traditional watch. The smart watch is available to customers from Rs 9,995 to Rs 10,495. Emporio Armani Connected hybrid smartwatches are priced between Rs 17,495 and Rs 27,995. MisFit expands its portfolio with Misfit Shine 2 and Misfit Ray. Priced at Rs 7,495 onwards, Misfit Shine 2 and Misfit Ray feature a modular design and lets users track their fitness goals.

5. NIH grant of $1.3M for UMass Amherst’s Nursing School

University of Massachusetts Amherst’s nursing school has been awarded a $1.23 million grant by The National Institutes of Health, to create a center dedicated to the development of technologies to help people manage fatigue and sleep impairment due to chronic illnesses. The five year grant, awarded to University of Massachusetts College of Nursing, will facilitate studies involving wearable and handheld devices, with the aim of helping patients decide when and how to modify their activities. The studies will take place at the campus’s UManage Center to Build the Science of Symptom Self-Management.

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Nurse-led interdisciplinary teams will use emerging technologies being developed on the UMass Amherst campus to help manage symptoms affecting millions of individuals with chronic conditions that interfere with living life to the fullest. The new wearable or handheld technologies will help them stop and rest or change their sleep hygiene before it’s too late. The team includes nurse researchers, sleep experts, computer science big data specialists and health informatics and engineering psychology researchers, and they will also collaborate with industry partners.

The Center is supposed to fund ten pilot research studies over the next five years. Among the first research projects will be the development of wearable eye-tracking technology to help cancer survivors monitor and self-manage persistent fatigue, and a study of sweat cortisol levels ,a potential stress and fatigue indicator, that could equip patients with tools to manage their behavior and reactions.

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