Wearable Electronics

Samsung Patents Screen-Projecting Smartwatch

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Samsung Patents Screen-Projecting Smartwatch

A recently published Samsung patent presents an almost sci-fi vision for the smartwatch of the future-- one able to project a virtual user interface on the hand or forearm of the wearer.

The system described by the patent scans the physical shape of the objects around the smartwatch (such as the wrist or back of the hand) before using a set of internal projectors to beam an appropriate virtual UI. The patent includes examples of such virtual UIs, such as a dialpad, a large keyboard and even map navigation, all with interactive buttons powered by photo sensors.

Projection is also not limited to the hands and arms, as the patent has it project a full-size desktop on a wall around the user. The technology can also go beyond wearables-- the patent has it used in head-mounted displays, creating a mix of virtual reality and the actual environment.

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Garmin Intros Analogue-Style Vivomove

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Garmin Intros Analogue-Style Vivomove

Garmin hides connected smarts in a traditional analogue-style watch with the Vivomove, a wearable offering similar to the Withings Activite designed to track wearers' activity and sleep levels 24/7.

The Vivomove is fairly basic as far as fitness trackers go, since it only monitors calories burnt, steps taken and sleep patterns. However the watch face features the Move Bar, a visual reminder urging one to remain active throughout the day, while Garmin claims the watch offers an impressive 1-year battery life.

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Smartwatches Beat Fitness Bands in Europe

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Smartwatches Beat Fitness Bands in Europe

According to Kantar Worldpanel the penetration of wearable devices remains relatively low in the 4 big European markets (the UK, Germany, France and Italy) at 6.6%, while smartwatches make 55.2% of the current installed base.

Fitbit is the most popular wearable device brand in the European nations with 18.5% market share, but Apple and Samsung follow closely with 14% and 11.6% respective share. Interestingly European customers are looking into smartwatches as a replacement for traditional watches, with 39% of surveyed customers wanting a smartwatch to replace a timepiece.

The replacement number increases to 49.6% when it comes to wanting an Apple Watch and 41.5% for Samsung devices.

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How to Control Drones Through Brain Power

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How to Control Drones Through Brain Power

A team of University of Florida researchers holds a world first-- the Brain Drone Race, an event combining drones with brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, with participants controlling drones through the power of the mind.

The event involved 16 pilots using their brainwaves to pilot DJI Phantom drones around a 9m course. Brainwave detection came through electroencephalogram (EEG) headsets calibrated to the brain each wearer, with the neural activity recorded when one thought about pushing something forward bound to the forward stick on the drone's controller. The more intensely the wearer concentrates, the faster the drone goes.

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Watch OS Update Brings Troubles to Reserve Strap

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Watch OS Update Brings Troubles to Reserve Strap

The Reserve Strap, a much delayed Apple Watch band with a built-in battery, hits a snag due to watchOS 2.0.1-- the software update blocks 3rd party band manufacturers from using the Watch accessory port.

Such functionality is crucial for the Reserve Band, since it uses the accessory port to provide the Watch with extra (up to 30 hours, the makers claim) battery life. As a result Reserve Strap shipments are now suspended, at least until Apple brings back developer access to the port.

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The Smartwatch With Alexa Voice Controls

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The Smartwatch With Alexa Voice Controls

Chinese company iMCO technology presents the CoWatch-- a metal and ceramic smartwatch billed as the first to integrate Alexa, the Amazon take on the voice-powered personal assistant.

The CoWatch features a round 1.39-inch 400 x 400 resolution Super AMOLED display and is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. Construction is in stainless steel with a ceramic ring on the underside, and iMCO the battery allows for up to 32 hours of "normal use" even with an always-on display.

Also included is a handful of familiar sensors-- 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyropscope, 3-axis digital compass and heart-rate sensors.

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Connected Smarts Reach the Umbrella

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Connected Smarts Reach the Umbrella

As we all know, nothing can be free from connected smarts any more-- including the humble umbrella, as Kickstarter now offers the chance to preorder a connected sensor-equipped version dubbed the Oombrella.

Described by maker Wezzoo as an "unforgettable umbrella," the Oombrella features what amounts to a mini weather station inside the handle. Tucked inside a "capsule" customers can purchase separately (for the upgrading of dumb umbrellas) are temperature, pressure, humidty and light sensors able to pair with a companion smartphone app via Bluetooth LE to provide notifications warning of the eventuality of rain.

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IFTTT Control on the Wrist via Nex Band

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IFTTT Control on the Wrist via Nex Band

Mighty Cast proposes a modular means to control a wide range of devices from the wrist-- the Nex Band, a wristband featuring 5 modules users can customise via companion app and If This Then That (IFTTT) commands.

Dubbed by the company as "Mods," the Nex Band modules have a colour display, touch sensitivity, a unique digital ID and a programmable function. Users can customise each Mod through the Nex app using IFTTT-style recipes, with functions ranging from assigning a button to a smartphone function, activating a smart home device or even controlling mobile device games.

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Apple Patents Watch Add-Ons

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Apple Patents Watch Add-Ons

A recently published Apple patent reveals interesting idea for potential Watch accessories-- modular wristbands using the diagnostics port to allow the addition of further features to the wearable device.

Titled "Auxiliary electronic device attachable to a wearable electronic device," the patent describes a means to add a number of capabilities to the Apple Watch through separate wristband "links" working either serially or in parallel. Examples of such links include batteries, displays, processors, electricity generators, GPS sensors, cameras, thermometers, blood pressure sensors, sweat sensors and speakers, all connecting to each other and the 6-pin diagnostics port.

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The Stroke-Detecting Apple Watch Band

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The Stroke-Detecting Apple Watch Band

Medical smartphone accessory maker AliveCor announces the Kardia Band-- an Apple Watch band the company describes as "the first medical-grade EKG band" able to capture wearer EKG anytime, anywhere.

Measuring EKG requires touching the integrated sensor on the band. As paired with the companion app, the Kardia band can detect the presence of AF in an EKG, a common cardiac arrhythmia and a leading cause of stroke.

Other detectors in the app include Normal (indicates whether heart rate and rhythm are normal) and Unreadable (tells wearers to retake the EKG). Users can also add a voice memo to an EKG in order to describe what was happening during the recording, and the Kardia app integrates with Apple Health to include EKG data with steps and calorie intake.

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How to Turn the Apple Watch into an Urgent Care System

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How to Turn the Apple Watch into an Urgent Care System

A recently revealed patent shows Apple is working on a device able to monitor wearers for so-called "care events"-- a role that, with a few tweaks, can easily be taken by the Apple Watch.

Called "Care Event Detection and Alerts," the September 2015 patent describes a system able to track health events (such as arrhythmia) demanding need for medical personnel, police, fire rescue or emergency technicians. Essentially, should the wearable device's sensors detect a specific change (such as lack of heart beat or sudden change in acceleration), it would be able to work out what happened and send out alerts to a predefined list of family members, doctors and emergency services dubbed a "care list" or "care circle."

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