Over the past few weeks we have looked at various cloud services. These applications are changing the way we create, save and share information. But where it gets really exciting is where the physical world meets the Internet world, where ordinary everyday items and objects are connected together, giving us more control over our environment, helping us live and work better. You could be forgiven for thinking this is something from a sci-fi novel, but it’s not science fiction; it’s science fact! And the rate of innovation in this space is quite staggering, all driven by the Cloud (aka Internet) and humankind’s new best friend – the Smartphone. In the first of our features in this area we take a look at wearable technology.
Last year while on vacation in the States, I came upon a piece of wearable technology that really blew me away. It was a simple wrist-strap device that monitored my every step. The UP band from Jawbone (www.jawbone.com) fits on your wrist and monitors your steps and your sleep. You can set goals for the amount of steps you take per day and the amount of sleep you want. The UP band can synchronise with the beautifully designed iOS app on your iPhone (there is also an Android App). Through the app, you can input all the food and drink you consume to count your calorie intake. You can even scan the barcodes from supermarket items and the UP App will automatically calculate the number of calories. You can then tell the app how you feel via an ‘Emoticon slider’. Finally you can use the band to time activities like a run or a workout and take ‘Power naps’, where the band will gently vibrate to wake you from a 20 minute snooze – good for the body and the brain! Now what is the point of all of that, I hear you say? Well in this world, where diet and weight are becoming hot topics, this device and Cloud based application will let you keep track of your levels of exercise, encourage you to use the stairs and not the lift and keep a count on your calorie intake. The UP band costs €129.99 and is available to purchase online from the Jawbone European Webstore, (http://eustore.jawbone.com/ie/).
There are other wearable devices available from companies like Fitbit (www.fitbit.com) and the Nike Fuelband (www.nike.com/fuelband), which also doubles as a cool watch. The LG Lifeband Touch (www.lg.com) was launched at this year’s CES in Las Vegas and also features an ear-phone heart-monitor. This clever gadget measures blood flow from the inner ear to accurately measure heart-rate. It can send this information wirelessly to your Lifeband or Smartphone via Bluetooth. Therein methinks lies the future for these devices, as they link to medical information. Perhaps in the future they can predict a heart-attack and automatically phone the hospital so the ambulance is there waiting for you at the front door. Science fiction? Maybe not. It’s a brave new world!