Wearables Roundup: GPS Smartsole, MOXO Sensor, Smart Robotic Apparel, Smart Stethoscope and a Temporary Tattoo for Vital Signs

The wearable market is becoming increasingly dynamic, despite all the criticisms about reliability and security of data. With Fitbit going downhill, Apple and Xiomi are coming out as the new leaders in this domain in 2017. There are several other catchy wearables out in the market, worth knowing about, for their technology, functionality, and for the problems they aim to solve.

Here’s a peek at some awesome wearables that were in the news in and around July: 

GPS SmartSole® to Monitor Location

GPS Smartsole

Photo Credit: http://gpssmartsole.com

GTX Corp‘s patented “smart” insoles are a convenient tracking GPS device that fits easily into most shoes – hence named – GPS Smartsole! This technology promises peace of mind to the caregivers of people with memory dysfunction, Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, traumatic brain injury, or other cognitive memory disability, as it enables real-time location monitoring of loved ones suffering with such diseases.

In July, 2017 the company which is an IoT platform in the personal location wearable and wandering assistive technology business, won the Technology Media Telcoms (TMT) News Magazine’s “Best Wearable Technology Company – USA” and “Most Innovative Tracking & Recovery Technology” for this invisible wearable, monitoring and wandering recovery GPS SmartSole®. The aim of the company is to build the best GPS tracking solutions. GTX Corp has several patents in the field of wireless communications and embedding location based and biometric electronics in footwears. Recently they were recognized in the list of top 13 Smart Shoes that combine the best of technology and fashion.

GTX Corp CEO, Patrick Bertagna says “Our GPS SmartSoles are making a positive impact on thousands of lives across the globe as an easy to use, cost effective tracking solution that provides peace of mind to every parent, child, or caregiver that has experienced the inability to locate someone in their care.”

GPS Smartsoles can show the exact location of the wearer using the GPS tracking chip in the insoles that is connected through Telefónica SA group’s global cellular network. The chip sends location information to the GTX Corp platform or app. Assembled in Rhode Island, U.S.A., the GPS Smartsole that comes in several sizes, are water resistant and made with the highest quality German electronic components.


MOXO Sensor to Profile Emotions

MOXO sensor

Photo credit: mPath

Created by mPath, this wearable has been designed to profile wearer’s emotions. It can extract data which can then be used by companies for a variety of different marketing reasons, as well as other agencies and organizations to provide better services. MOXO sensor is worn on the wrist and measures skin conductance changes, which in turn are understood to help determine states of arousal.

MOXO sensor actually can not determine the exact emotions, but can point out moments when the wearer is aroused (positively or negatively) by something, or when he is disinterested with something.

One challenge being faced by MOXO developers is to make this wearable relay the information recorded to the people who would like to learn about it. For this very reason, this technology is being used in conjunction with eye-tracking glasses and GoPro cameras. This combined technology use helps to determine which visual stimuli prompted what kind of response.

The technology and idea on which MOXO is based is however not exactly new as psychologists have been using eye-tracking tech to learn about consumer behavior. So how is MOXO new and different? mPath claims that the technology used in MOXO has a better sensor which provides more accurate data on emotions. Also MOXO is more portable which is evident by the fact that the team has been using it to study levels of boredom in school children, as well as testing the technology in people’s homes on behalf of a toothpaste company to learn how people can become more engaged when brushing their teeth.


‘Smart’ Robotic Apparel

Smart Apparel

Photo Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

A highly sensitive soft capacitive sensor made of silicone and fabric that moves and flexes with the human body to detect movement – unobtrusively and accurately, has been designed by a team of researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University.

The Wyss team’s technology consists of a thin sheet of silicone (a poorly conductive material) sandwiched between two layers of silver-plated, conductive fabric (a highly conductive material), forming a capacitive sensor. This type of sensor registers movement by measuring the change in capacitance, or the ability to hold electrical charge, of the electrical field between the two electrodes.

Generally, as an elastic material is pulled, its length increases while its thickness and width decrease, so the total area of the material – and, therefore, its capacitance – stays constant. However, surprisingly, with this new sensor, the team strain tested it to find that the conductive area of their sensor increased as it was stretched, resulting in greater-than-expected capacitance and hence improved sensitivity.

Although this study is only a preliminary proof-of-concept, the team is excited about the many future directions in which this technology could develop, most importantly future of home healthcare. The team also sees promising applications for motion capture ‘in the wild,’ such as athletic clothing that tracks physical performance or soft clinical devices to monitor patients in their homes.  


Smart StethoScope (S3) for Heart Health

Smart stethoscope

Photo credit: Yuen Sin/Straits Times

Smart StethoScope (S3) is a very small “home” heart monitoring device that fits into the palm. Invented by three students from Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore, it aims to allow patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) to monitor their hearts for any abnormal sounds – at home. With CVDs being the number 1 cause of death, this device can be very useful for the doctors to anticipate danger and save lives.

Unlike other heart monitoring devices, where the patients need to be educated and technically trained about where to place the device exactly to get proper data, S3 is capable of reading electrical activity of the heart too, in addition to detecting abnormal heart sounds. Electrical activity measurements can be fed into machine learning model on a cloud server, that process it and marks abnormal heart sounds. Patients are only required to wear the device for approximately five minutes a day to record their heart data.

The inventors are looking to market the device to medical facilities where doctors can prescribe it to their patients for home monitoring, so as to be able to catch those heart conditions that were missed at regular appointments. The cost of S3 is $30 per piece.

Smart StethoScope (S3) was among the inventions presented during Microsoft’s Imagine Cup World Finals in July.


Temporary Tattoo that Senses Vital Signs

Temporary Tattoo

Photo credit: Takao Someya/University of Tokyo

Using nanoscale mesh that allows movement of air in and out, scientists in Japan have designed an ultrathin, lightweight, breathable wearable sensor which can be applied on skin like a regular tattoo. Nanoscale mesh, as the scientists explain are “a spaghetti-like entanglement of fibers a thousand times thinner than a human hair,” This wearable sensor can monitor vital signals without irritating the skin. It gives the look and feel of henna tattoo and is so sleek that the wearer does not even feel that he is wearing the device.

Although the technology is not entirely new, given products like biostamps  are already out there, the inventors claim that in terms of precision, its readings are more accurate because it is not made of polyester or rubber sheets. Also, since it does not cause itchiness, unless it gets wet, this wearable is suitable for long-term use to monitor vital signs such as muscle electrical activity, pressure, touch, and body temperature.

Takao Someya, one of the scientists on the team said “we succeeded in completely removing the discomfort of wear.” In their future research, the team hopes to solve the problem of this wearable tattoo being washed off with water.

As the inventors see it, this wearable has scope for use in the sports and medical field where it can be used to continuously remotely monitor vital signs of a patient after discharge or detect an athlete’s physiological signals without any disturbance.

Stay tuned for the next wearable roundup for August!