Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wearable tech news: SciFi is Now

Last week, WXYZ reported on Wearable tech trend at Consumer Electronics Show.

Wearables continue to be a big trend in the technology industry.

Technology you can throw on your wrist, foot, ear, head to track x, y or z--you name it and it appears to be cooking at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.
This report reminded me that I had six months of news about wearable tech in my archives.  Follow over the jump to read and watch it.

Northern Illinois University leads off with Interfacing eyewear? Smart sneakers? Robo-gloves? Brain 2.0?

NIU's David Gunkel says today's wearable tech is only in its infancy

The new Apple Watch might be an exciting accessory for techies, but it's only the tip of the technological iceberg compared to what the future has in store for consumers wanting wearable computers.

So says award-winning NIU Professor David Gunkel, who specializes in the study of information and communication technology and is author of the book, "The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots and Ethics" (MIT 2012).

"In the not too distant future, the object that we once knew as the computer will be distributed across a network of devices worn on our bodies-eyeglasses that provide visual data, clothing that monitors biometric data, shoes that create electrical power with every step, and gloves and jewelry that provide gestural control at our fingertips," Gunkel says.
The Creators Project is next with Make It Wearable Finalists | Meet Team Nixie.

Team Nixie ( is developing the first wearable drone camera, which can be worn around your wrist. The team won the Grand Prize for the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge on November 3, 2014.
The king of wearable tech right now is Google Glass.  The University of Georgia leads off three articles on this hot eyewear with Google Glass at UGA: Spotlight on the Arts Preview.

The University of Georgia's Director of Bands Cynthia Johnston Turner is using Google Glass in the classroom and researching its applications to music. A public premiere of the Google Glass inspired "Adwords/Edward" will occur during the Spotlight on the Arts festival in November.
Not to be outdone, Georgia Tech Researchers create software for Google Glass that provides captions for hard-of-hearing user.

A team of Georgia Institute of Technology researchers has created speech-to-text software for Google Glass that helps hard-of-hearing users with everyday conversations. A hard-of-hearing person wears Glass while a second person speaks directly into a smartphone. The speech is converted to text, sent to Glass and displayed on its heads-up display.
University of Central Florida finishes this section by telling Drivers, Don't Trade in Your Smartphone for Google Glass ... Yet.
Texting while driving with Google Glass is clearly a distraction, a new University of Central Florida study has concluded — but there is a twist. In the study, texting Glass users outperformed smartphone users when regaining control of their vehicles after a traffic incident.

“Texting with either a smartphone or Glass will cause distraction and should be avoided while driving” said UCF researcher Ben Sawyer. “Glass did help drivers in our study recover more quickly than those texting on a smartphone. We hope that Glass points the way to technology that can help deliver information with minimal risk.”

The study, conducted in cooperation with the Air Force Research Laboratory, is the first scientific look at using Google Glass to text while driving.
I close this report with three articles about developments that will make wearable technology more practical and ubiquitous.

Computers didn't take off until they were networked.  The same should be true of wearable devices.  An institution that plans on leading the revolution will be the University of Florida's MIST Center to lead research of smart electronics for emerging 'Internet of Things'.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- The University of Florida's Multi-functional Integrated System Technology (MIST) Center will  play a leading role in researching the next generation of "smart" electronics funded by a National Science Foundation  program that combines federal money with industry investments in strategic research.

As a designated Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, the MIST Center will receive over $880,000 from the NSF and upwards of $4 million from industry and government partners to help power the "Internet of Things."

In the last 30 years, the Internet revolution has completely changed how we communicate, exchange money and explore the world.  Access to the Internet has  evolved from the desktop computer to hand-held - and now wearable - devices. Soon, engineers envision an interconnected cyber-physical world, dubbed an "Internet of Things." The MIST Center will research the materials, sensors, actuators, power sources and electronics that are expected to drive this new era.
Wearble tech will require energy sources.  To provide them, Georgia Tech Researchers develop world’s thinnest electric generator.
Researchers from Columbia Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology have reported the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), resulting in a unique electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable.

In a paper published online October 15, 2014, in the journal Nature, research groups from the two institutions demonstrate the mechanical generation of electricity from the two-dimensional (2D) MoS2 material. The piezoelectric effect in this material had previously been predicted theoretically.
“This material – just a single layer of atoms – could be made as a wearable device, perhaps integrated into clothing, to convert energy from your body movement to electricity and power wearable sensors or medical devices, or perhaps supply enough energy to charge your cell phone in your pocket,” said James Hone, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia and co-leader of the research.
That's the applied research.  Basic research is also required and being recognized, as a University of Kansas: Researcher receives Young Investigator Award for photovoltaic nanomaterials.
LAWRENCE — A researcher at the University of Kansas has earned an Army Research Office Young Investigator Award grant to conduct research on cutting-edge photovoltaic technology intended to give American forces tactical advantages in the field.

"My YIP Award primarily focuses on the material design and assembly to reach highly efficient photovoltaic nanodevice systems," said Shenqiang Ren, assistant professor of chemistry. "In addition, our discovery of multifunctional photovoltaic nanomaterials will enable us to build an integrated photovoltaic and sensing system, which has dual functionalities."

Ren's work focuses on materials chemistry, synthesis and self-assembly of low-dimensional nanomaterials. For the Army, the researcher said he would be investigating "flexible, durable and highly efficient nanosystems that could be manufactured at low cost for handheld and wearable nano-PV-sensing circuits to large arrays for Department of Defense applications."

Ren said his work could lead to improvements in a variety of devices used by the military by employing "self-assembled nanophotovoltaics" built upon less than a 100-nanometer-thickness photoactive layer.
If we can get through the current crisis, the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades--or at least a Google Glass.


  1. I recently heard that Google is dropping Glass.
    I think it had mainly to do with resistance to the appearance of the glasses. Wearing tech on one's face is still seen as too nerdly. Personally, I think that even the bluetooth earphones for cell phones are ridiculous.

    1. I hadn't heard that, although I've been reading about resistance to Google Glass because of the people around the wearers being concerned about privacy. As for people wearing Bluetooth, they look like something out of Star Trek, say if Uhuru joined the Borg.

  2. Lucky you, spammer, your ad is actually on topic, so it stars. Consider it a late Christmas present.