2018-2019 has been a great time for wearable tech. Memory, processing, and batteries are getting smaller and cheaper, leading to many innovative designs.
This article will focus on the weird and wonderful in recent wearable designs. We have high-tech tattoos, wearables for pets, wearables for the elderly, babies, and couples. We have the practical but strange, the sexy, and a bit of bizarre. Welcome to the world of weird wearables.
It looks like a set of brass (well, plastic) knuckles, but the “Tap Strap” bills itself as a fully functional Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It gives new meaning to “touch typing” by using a proprietary set of finger movements and gestures to turn any solid surface into a virtual keyboard.
The strap is compatible with OSx, Windows, and Linux, as well as Android and iOS mobile devices. The manufacturer claims that the Tap Strap is even compatible with VR/AR devices such as Oculus and Samsung’s Gear VR. This may be where this technology shines, since the strap is unlikely to be faster than true touch typing, but it’s much faster than the cumbersome “look at the letters” typing modality of most VR systems.
The Tap wearable keyboard walks that fine line between “I hope it works” and “Everyone on the train is tapping their legs.”
We’ve all seen it: You and your partner pledge to watch a favorite streaming series together. Inevitably though, temptation looms and one of you jumps ahead without the other. Heartbreak, guilt and recriminations ensue.
Now Cornetto is here to save your relationship. Their wireless rings sync with a smartphone app and your favorite streaming service. Use the app to choose which programs you want to watch together, and once those choices are set your streaming service won’t show the selected shows unless both rings are in close proximity to the phone. Peace in our time.
The makers of GoPro action cameras ask “Why should humans have all the fun?” This leads us to this harness for mounting a GoPro camera on man’s best friend.
The rig allows you to record whatever your dog is seeing and automatically upload it to cloud services such as Instagram.
Apparently this is a growing trend, and the GoPro Fetch is only one of several entries in the field. However the backing of the GoPro brand has made the Fetch a standout competitor.
Continuing the canine trend, we have the Inupathy dog harness. Billed as a “mental visualizer” the harness measures your dog’s heart rate and uses analytics to infer his mood. The output comes in the form of color changes on the harness itself, telling you whether your dog is happy, stressed, excited, interested, or relaxed.
There’s a definite mood ring flavor to all of this, but the harness also has a practical application: all of this data is recorded in Inupathy’s cloud, and Inupathy claims that by monitoring your dog’s heart rate variability they can provide health information that veterinarians can use.
Skin cancer is a growing concern, and even people who slather on the SPF 75 “liquid cave” may still have concerns about UV exposure for themselves or their children. Enter LogicInk, and their color-changing temporary tattoo.
The device is a sensor based on UV-sensitive pigments, and it provides two sorts of information. The inner circle changes color reversibly from white to purple, showing the current UV intensity in real time. The outer ring acts as dosimeter, gradually turning pink around its circumference to show your cumulative UV exposure.
It can be used with sunscreen, and can show qualitatively how effective your favorite brand is at protecting your skin.
Welt Smart Belt
Korean manufacturer Welt has come out with a belt for the fashion conscious and health conscious. On the outside it’s a stylish leather belt. On the inside though it’s packed with sensors that record the wearer’s waist measurement, activity (both steps and sitting time) and even the number of large meals he consumes.
It feeds all of this data to a paired smartphone, which calculates additional information such as distance traveled and calories burned, and offers both daily and weekly reports.
The smartphone app also offers customized goal setting, alerts and warnings when you stray off track. It’s a health tracker with a low profile.
Last, but not least, we have a wearable for the youngest member of your family. Monit has come out with a number of networked baby accessories, and the latest in their product line is their diaper sensor. Monit claims that the sensor can tell when the diaper is used and…how, and they hope that regular use can reduce diaper rash and urinary tract infections. But the objective observer might well decide that this is a solution in search of a real problem.