(16 Mar 2018) LEADIN:
Energy-generating, sleep-monitoring and health-tracking, the latest wearable tech may become part of our everday life.
Once a top tech trend, wearable technology is now finding useful applications in the health and manufacturing industries.
This small piece of fabric is generating its own energy.
At London’s Wearable Technology Show, Reading-based Kymira Sport is demonstrating its energy-generating textiles.
It’s utilising the ‘piezoelectric effect’ that allows certain materials to generate an electric charge through movement.
“So, what we have here is a mechanical knee rig with a textile over here that’s actually harvesting the energy as the knee rig moves,” explains Philip Kunovski, Kymira Sport’s chief technology officer.
“As the knee rig is moving and this fabric is affected, you can see here the voltage spikes that occur as you get that maximum deflection.
“And this is usable energy that can be extracted out of here and potentially charge wearable devices.”
The technology currently generates just a small measure of energy – nowhere near enough to charge a smartphone, for instance.
But it could be used to power simple in-clothing sensors or perhaps an emergency beacon to alert rescue workers in case of an emergency.
“You could have a beacon that can use up all that stored energy throughout the day and just push out a big signal that says; ‘I’m hurt. This is where I am. This is what’s potentially broken. Come save me,'” says Kunovski.
Munich-based wearable tech company ProGlove is demonstrating its simple industrial device, called ‘Mark.’
The slip-on glove allows workers to quickly scan goods and products, without having to reach for a device.
The glove has integrated gesture sensors and is able to give quick haptic or audio feedback to users.
According to the company, automotive workers at BMW, Skoda and Audi are already using the gloves in their factories.
“We enable the worker to work hands free,” says ProGlove country manager Aaron Windmuller.
“On the other hand, without carrying with you a scanner, you have improvements in terms of efficiency because picking up a scanner, put it back in the cradle will last roughly four seconds.”
Cambridge-based Equivital is showcasing its mobile health monitoring technology.
The small chest-based wearable sensor monitors everything from heart and breathing rate, to body position, posture and skin temperature.
The company says its technology is used in various industries, including healthcare, sport, construction, first responders and the military.
Equivital’s CEO Anmol Sood says the data gathered can also help employers tailor shift patterns and workloads.
“Normally what happens is there’s protocol set up that says this worker should work for X minutes and then should rest for X minutes, but everyone is individual,” says Sood.
“So, what we’re able to do is provide quantifiable data where supervisors and managers should say to work safely and efficiently and effectively, you should work for this long, you should rest for this long.
“You should work for this long, rest for this long. So, you could cycle them in safely as well.”
Oulu, Finland-based Oura is demonstrating its sleep-monitoring smart ring.
The small, water-resistant device uses infrared sensors to monitor a body’s sleep stages, heart rate and temperature to build up an accurate picture of a person’s sleep quality.
That automatically-collected data is then wirelessly synchronised to Oura’s mobile app. The device starts from $299 USD, shipping is set to begin next month.
“Whatever you do during the day, it usually affects what kind of sleep you get,” says Hannu Kinnunen, chief scientist at Oura.
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