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  1. Technology
October 10, 2014

5 recent wearable tech devices you’ve never heard of

Bike helmets, rings, insoles and beyond....

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Skin patch

Researchers from the University of Illinois and Northwestern University have developed a smart skin patch they claim can warn you when your skin is dry and track cardiovascular health.

The skin patch, worn 24/7 for around-the-clock health monitoring, has up to 3,600 liquid crystals, each half a millimeter square, laid out on a stretchable substrate.

When a crystal senses temperature, the device determines the user’s blood flow rate, which is indicative of cardiovascular health, and skin hydration levels. When it detects health changes, the crystals change colour, allowing the user to know when something is wrong.

"One can imagine cosmetics companies being interested in the ability to measure skin’s dryness in a portable and non-intrusive way," said Yonggang Huang, one of the senior researchers. "This is the first device of its kind."

Smart ring

A smart ring that lets you control your devices wirelessly launched this week following a successful Kickstarter campaign in April this year.

Simply called ‘Ring’, the device costs $270 and is a device that fits on a user’s index finger.

The firm behind the device, Logbar, says Ring is a ‘cloud control wearable device’ that sends signals to smartphones through Bluetooth Low Energy. Using gestures, it can read and send texts, play music, take pictures, make payments and control home appliances. Users can also add customised gestures.

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With the device’s movement detection, users can type out text in the air for use with Facebook, Twitter, and text messages. Users can also draw symbols in the air, such as a camera, to open specific apps on their phones or tablets, while other features include LED and vibration alerts for notifications.

Luxury smart bracelet

Intel, in partnership with fashion brand Opening Ceremony and Barneys New York, unveiled a wearable bracelet for women back in September.

MICA has a curved sapphire screen and built -in wireless radios that come in two styles: black snakeskin and pearls, and white snakeskin and obsidian.

The device claims to stay connected with SMS messages, meeting alerts, and general notifications delivered straight to the watch, and Intel said additional will be revealed at a later date.

"As a feminine accessory blending seamlessly into everyday life, MICA ushers in a new era converging fashion and technology by integrating a woman’s luxury accessory with technology in order to complement and enhance a woman’s work and social life," Intel said at the time.

Bike helmet

The ‘black box’ helmet, developed by students at Oregon State University in partnership with Intel, has a built-in data recorder to capture the moment a biker crashes.

The prototype helmet, which records the distance, speed and direction at all times, can also make emergency calls, talk to users and provide hands-free calling.

For example, the helmet can ask riders if they are okay in the event of a crash, and if they fail to respond, emergency services will be contacted on their behalf.

The device is made up of accelerometers, an embedded gyroscope, a magnetometer, speakers, a microphones, Bluetooth to connect to the smartphone, and an LED headlamp to help you avoid accidents in the first place.

Smart Insoles

French company Digitsole is currently funding its eponymous smart insole on Kickstarter, which they claims slips inside your shoes to heat your feet when controlled by an accompanying smartphone app.

The interactive insole will also allow users to change the temperature of the insoles, count steps and monitor calories when they go on sale.

Users just enter their weight and height when they first log in to the app to keep track of their weight and the number of steps taken.

They’re also water-resistant, and other features include a rechargeable battery which lasts around 7-8 hours on a single USB charge if used constantly.

The device also has a ‘shock heel system’ to help with general posture and foot health, according to the firm.

The insoles can be pre-ordered on Kickstarter, from $99 and are expected to start shipping in December.


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