Tag Archives: wearables

Body Heat Provides Wearables With Eternal Power

The first watch to make use of the body’s natural heat to uphold battery charge in wearables is now even being crowdfunded on Indiegogo. Who else but researchers from Texas A&M University (a hot place) came up with the solution.


In today’s wearables battery life is a bottleneck, as increasing amounts of technology gets packed into lightweight designs comfortable enough for everyday wear. That’s why Texas A&M professor Choongho Yu and his PhD student, Suk Lae Kim, designed a thermally-chargeable solid-state supercapacitor.

Despite having no apparent links with the researchers, a smartwatch which uses the same thermoelectric concept has arrived on Indiegogo seeking crowdfunding. The MATRIX PowerWatch claims to be the world’s first smartwatch that you never have to charge.

Thermoelectric technology converting heat to electric power is based on the Seebeck effect discovered in 1821. In the absence of an applied voltage gradient, an electric current can still be generated if there is a temperature gradient. A thermoelectric material must have a low thermal conductivity and high electrical conductivity to function efficiently.

PowerWatch runs off your body heat and when you take it off, your data is stored in memory and it goes to sleep. When you put it back on, the watch resumes where you left it. It’s got a power meter that tells you how much electricity your body heat is producing.

The standard Indiegogo pricing is $139, the crowdfunding page is here. On January 14, 2017 the product  was 937% funded.

Source: Elektor

tinyTILE, An Intel Development Board Based on Intel Curie Module

In the past year, Intel announced the low power development board “tinyTILE” which was built based on Intel Curie Module, offering quick and easy identification of actions and motions, features needed by always-on applications.

tinyTile was designed for use in wearable devices and rapid prototyping. It is a 35 x 26 mm board and has an Intel Curie Module on the top and a flat reverse side. There are 20 general purpose I/O pins (four of them are PWM output pins) operate at 3.3V with a maximum of 20 mA current.

The Intel Curie Module is a low-power compute module featuring the low-power 32-bit Intel Quark microcontroller with 384kB flash memory and 80kB SRAM, low-power integrated DSP sensor hub and pattern matching technology, Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE), and 6-axis combo sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope.

Intel Curie Module Block Diagram

Features of the tinyTILE include:

  • Intel® Curie™ module dual-core (Intel® Quark* processor core and ARC* core)
  • Bluetooth® low energy, 6-axis combo sensor and pattern matching engine
  • 14 digital input/output pins (four can be used as PWM output pins)
  • Four PWM output pins
  • Six analog input pins
  • Strictly 3.3 V I/Os only
  • 20 mA DC current per I/O pin
  • 196 kB Flash memory
  • 24 kB SRAM
  • 32 MHz clock speed
  • USB connector for serial communication and firmware updates (DFU protocol)
  • 35 mm length and 26 mm width

tinyTILE can be powered using the USB connection or by an external battery, and it is compatible with three development environments:

The board is available for around $40 on element14. All related documents, specifications, BOM, BSP and other needed information are available at the official page.

You can view this project that invades your dog’s privacy with impressive ease while you’re at work!

Send Touch Over Distance With HEY Bracelet

HEY is an innovative bracelet that really makes you feel connected to a loved one. It uses a unique technology to send your touch as far as needed. It’s the first bracelet that mimics a real human touch, not by producing a mechanical vibration or buzzing sensation, but an actual gentle squeeze.

On Valentine’s Day the stylish piece of smart jewelry was launched on Kickstarter and within one hour it was already ‘trending’. Check the campaign video:

The bracelet incorporates advanced technology that communicates through Bluetooth with your smartphone. The ingenious design  ensures that a touch wouldn’t be sent accidentally. In order to send a message you should touch the bracelet in two places and it will be transferred directly to your phone and from there to the connected HEY bracelet anywhere in the world.

Via Bluetooth HEY is connected to an app on your smartphone. This app makes sure all your little squeezes reach the other bracelet directly. It also helps you pair the bracelets easily, fast and without any hassle. And last but not least it keeps track of your love stats. For instance the distance between you and your loved one or the last time you were together. If desired, these features can be turned off. In the future more features will be added to the app.

HEY is invented by Mark van Rossem. He looked at the current world of communication and saw that one thing was missing. And that thing was touch. People communicate through technology 24/7, but there is always a physical distance separating them. So Mark set himself the seemingly impossible goal to send touch at great distances and came up with the idea for HEY. Together with successful entrepreneur, David van Brakel, he gathered a team of creative and technical professionals that have all earned their credentials in their field of expertise. Together they want to build products that bring people closer.

“From a simple touch like squeezing someone’s hand, to hugging, social touch is important in the way we maintain healthy and happy social relationships with the people that we care about most.” – Gijs Huisman, who collaborated in developing bracelet, is an expert at the University of Twente in the field of Social Touch Technology and has been researching haptic technology (touch by tech) for five years now.

No need to worry a lot about the safety of the bracelet electronics since the design is weatherproof. With only 30 minutes of charging, you will be able to send touches for around 3 weeks!

HEY adds a completely new dimension to relationships and more haptic products will be developed in the near future. For more information and updates, check the official website and the Kickstarter campaign. 35 days are left to pre-order 2 HEY bracelets with the Kickstarter deal for €83 which is 30% of the retail price.

Human Motion Powered Nanotechnology Devices

Michigan State University researchers have came up with a new method for  harvesting energy from human motion using nanotechnology. They designed a low-cost film-like device, a nanogenerator, than can power a LCD display,  keyboard, and some LEDs without any source of electric power, by only using some human touching or pressing.

This device called FENG, biocompatible ferroelectret nanogenerator, consists of several thin layers of silicon wafer made of environmentally friendly substances like silver, polyimide, and polypropylene ferroelectret – which is introduced here as the active material of this device. To add the electrical powering feature, researchers added ions to each layer to make sure that each layer has its own charged particles. Finally the circuit works only once some pressure or mechanical energy is performed on the device. For example, by using this technology you will be able to power the LED lights with the pressure of your palm, while the pressure of your finger is enough to power the LCD screen.

In this video 20 LEDs are powered with hand pressing:

Researchers’ investigations had shown that the voltage and current generated by pressure can be doubled if the device is folded, means a high-frequency pressure is already demonstrated.

“Each time you fold it you are increasing exponentially the amount of voltage you are creating,” said Nelson Sepulveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and lead investigator of the project. “You can start with a large device, but when you fold it once, and again, and again, it’s now much smaller and has more energy. Now it may be small enough to put in a specially made heel of your shoe so it creates power each time your heel strikes the ground.”

Sepulveda believes that implementing this technology in real life will shift wearables to be completely powered by human motion. He and his team are working now on transmitting the power generated from the heel strike to be used for powering other devices like a headset.

In this video you can take a look at the flexible keyboard they designed:

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation. You can learn more about this project by checking the scientific paper, and the university official website.

Conductive Plastic Holes For Wearables

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) research team has just debuted a new way of building flexible nontoxic golden film out of golden wires. They predict it will be a major step in wearable sensor research since it is comfortable and convenient for health usage, especially that it won’t be harmful to the human body causing any extra chemicals to do its function.

Wearable electronics - Source: NIST
Wearable electronics – Source: NIST

With one of his attempt in separating microfluidics, Reyes Hernandez NIST biomedical engineer found out that flexible plastic membranes can help conducting electricity. While twisting golden films on this membrane, that is similar to warp, the film kept connected even though all the twists and bends.

“Apparently the pores keep the gold from cracking as dramatically as usual,” Hernandez said. “The cracks are so tiny that the gold still conducts well after bending.”

forwearablee

“This thin membrane could fit into very small places,” he said, “and its flexibility and high conductivity make it a very special material, almost one of a kind.”

Hopefully, this discovery will lead Hernandez and his team to a new level of integrating small and convenient healthcare sensors in our body. The fact that the gold is non toxic and the superconductivity of the porous plastic membrane makes it a great deal to combine them in future researches and applications.

More information about the golden-membrane conductivity you can check NIST official page.

For detailed description and technical information, check this paper by NIST research group: Flexible Thin-Film Electrodes on Porous Polyester Membranes for Wearable Sensors.