13 Dec 2013 Five innovative applications of wearable technology
Every Friday we bring you the FreshMinds Friday picks – ideas to help you make the most of digital technologies and understand how they are helping brands to grow and innovate. This week we’re looking at wearable tech, an area which has undergone massive growth in the past year. Whilst we’ve heard much about the likes of Google Glass and the Nike FuelBand, some of the most innovative and interesting applications of the technology have received less attention. We’ve selected our five favourites – the Copenhagen Wheel, SunFriend, Tweet Pee, Whistle and the GER Mood Sweater.
The Copenhagen Wheel
The Nike FuelBand, a wearable device that allows users to monitor their physical activity by recording data such as heart rate and calories burned, has been a runaway success among sports fanatics. So it’s hardly surprising that other companies are starting to develop wearable devices to tap into this market too. The latest offering in this space is The Copenhagen Wheel, designed by Superpedestrian. The unit contains a number of sensors which track information such as speed and incline. This data can then be accessed via a smartphone app and shared with friends. But what makes the device really stand out, is its smart use of data. The wheel stores energy every time a cyclist brakes and, using the data captured as its guide, reuses this power to give them an extra push when they need it most.
It’s not just in the areas of sport and fitness that wearable tech is making an impact, the technology is spreading into the health sector too. One offering in this space is the SunFriend, a wristwatch that uses UV sensors to track the amount of sunlight the body receives. This information is then visualised through LED lights that start flashing when the wearer’s UV exposure reaches dangerously high levels. Whilst the Sunfriend may not be as sleek and stylish as other devices on the market, it’s a useful piece of kit, helping users ensure they’re obtaining enough vitamin D whilst, at the same time, preventing them from the risk of skin cancer. The device received over $25, 000 in funding on Indiegogo last year so we’re expecting the watches to be a hit when they become available next year.
Wearable tech may not be a phenomenon you’d automatically associate with a nappy manufacturer but the Brazilian arm of Huggies has developed an innovative approach to harnessing the technology. They’ve developed the Tweet Pee, a device that can be attached to the outside of a baby’s nappy. Equipped with moisture sensors, the Tweet Pee syncs with a parent’s smartphone and alerts them as to when their child’s nappy needs changing. Whilst the device seeks to make parents’ lives easier, there’s also a commercial benefit to Huggies. Parents can register each pack of nappies they purchase on the app. This information is then used to send parents a reminder when their supplies are running low – a sure-fire way to increase sales of Huggies’ nappies.
Whistle is leading the way with a new form of wearable tech – devices for pets. Their product is being hailed as the Nike FuelBand of the pet world. Like its counterpart, Whistle tracks data on physical activity but this information relates to dogs rather than their owners. After attaching the device to their pet’s collar, owners can use an app to keep tabs on their dog’s behaviour and find out when they’re playing, resting or walking. What at first seems somewhat trivial data, is in fact incredibly valuable, allowing an owner to pick up on early indicators of potential health problems.
The GER Mood Sweater
Wearable tech is enjoying high levels of popularity and if The Mood Sweater is anything to go by, this could spread as far as the catwalk. This futuristic jumper has a collar of LED lights which change colour to reflect the wearer’s mood. To do this, the developers, Sensoree, have drawn on Galvanic Skin Response, using sensors placed on the owner’s hands to determine their mood. With the sweater due to go on sale in March, Sensoree could be the new must-have fashion label in 2014.
So what’s next?
Sales of wearable tech have doubled month on month over the past year. And global businesses are investing significant time and money in the development of wearable devices. In the last month alone, Sony has filed a patent for a smart wig and Microsoft has announced they are working on a smart bra. Against this backdrop, the rise in wearable tech shows no signs of stopping and we’re excited to see more innovative applications of the technology in the new year.