Wearable devices took center stage over and over at CES and elsewhere in recent months. "Sensors are the story behind wearables," Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS, told EE Times.
"We're seeing some good traction in wearable electronics," Bouchaud said. "It's starting to get interesting."
The "quantified self" is what the burgeoning wearables market is selling to consumers right now in the form of glasses, wristbands, and watches, among others. "Consumers are looking for fit-for-purpose devices that fit their lifestyle" and translate their activities into a digital data, Bouchaud said. That tracking includes counting the number of steps the wearer takes in a day or the number of calories the wearer is burning.
"These sensors are allowing them to track their activities. It's a move to the quantified self."
The aesthetic of wearables also "becomes a story as well," said John Curran (Accenture). "Wearables, more than other technology, are really a statement about the person." That they fit into a small form factor gives companies tremendous opportunity to focus on integration of technology, he said.
One of many examples comes from Epson, a company mostly known for printers and projectors. Epson has entered the wearable fitness device market with Pulsense, its line of fitness tracking wristbands. The device monitors the user’s heart rate as well as activity levels, the number of calories lost, and sleep pattern. Both versions of the device—the PS-100 and the PS-500—will connect to the cloud according to Epson. The devices are slated for release in the summer.
Pulsense will combine mobile applications with sensors, data visualization, and big data and analytics. The device is capable of tracking and storing the user’s data, offering feedback, and interacting with other devices. As a result of being connected to other devices, it allows the user to transfer data onto a computer or phone without the need for large amounts of internal storage. Pulsense devices also have the benefit of being open-source, so that third-party developers can come up with apps for them.
Notch wearable sensor
So is it the device that's wearable or the sensor? Both it seems. Take a look at the Notch. For the size of a button, multiple sensors are networked to collect and send data to a smartphone.
Notch wearable sensor.
Every Notch is supposed to have a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, and a 3-axis magnetometer. It uses haptic feedback, and sends data to the smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy. The Kickstarter page says the funding was canceled, but that it would resume January 2014.
Inside the Notch wearable sensor.
Says Notch's Kickstarter page:
Notch sensors are placed in the mobile application around body joints creating linkages and dependencies. The relationship between the sensors and linkages creates accurate measurement and reconstruction of movement. Post processing with the PC application is able to recreate movement paths.
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