5 New Gadgets This Week: From Smart Wheels to Smart Skin
There’s a lot of smart things that were announced this week: a necklace, skin, wheels. It’s hard to believe 10 years ago we were using such un-intellegent devices. For all the jokes you could make, it’s true that technology has evolved substantially since then, so much so that sometimes looking back it almost seems retro.
Most of this week’s devices are working to build a better future, and may even motivate us to go green-er, help those who have been ravaged by war, and improve our posture in a world of screens that have conditioned us to slouch. Check out the full list.
Jawbone UP for Groups
Fitness in numbers strengthens your chances of losing weight — a group of people can hold you accountable and push you beyond you comfort zone. Corporations often utilize this concept to their advantage, encouraging group sports teams and coordinating fitness competitions to promote health. But businesses want to go further with their fitness programs — they want fitness wearable integration from manufacturers, like Jawbone.
The fitness band company has answered these companies with a program called Up for Groups. It’s a system that allows administrators to invite participants into a group. Through this group, participants can communicate and share their stats, set group challenges, and send messages encouraging others to get up and move.
“People in the UP system with teammates are 10% more active than those who use it alone. Now, we can amplify these tool-sets to drive even deeper engagement and behavior change. And UP for Groups goes beyond the workplace, beyond the 9-5, helping people eat, move and sleep better overall,” wrote Andrew Rosenthal, Group Manager for Jawbone, in a blog post.
Those concerned about privacy will be able to share personal information, but only if they grant permission through the UP app.
Prosthetic limbs have undergone some incredible advancements. Plastics and carbon fiber have allowed for stronger and lighter constructions, but operation is one of the smaller challenges that come with a prosthetic device. There’s the loss of touch that comes with its own set of challenges — not knowing how much pressure your putting on an object or how hot something is. There’s a kind of blindness that comes with this absent sense, but researchers have made significant advancements in the field of touch-sensitive skin.
Scientists from Seoul National University in Korea have created smart skin outfitted with a multitude of sensors that can perceive temperature and moisture. The end result is a prosthetic hand that can touch and feel like a normal human hand.
“This collection of stretchable sensors and actuators facilitate highly localized mechanical and thermal skin-like perception in response to external stimuli, thus providing unique opportunities for emerging classes of prostheses and peripheral nervous system interface technologies,” the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Nature, explaining the study.
Fitness bands can be quite obtrusive, and for those that would enjoy an alternative to the endless stream of wrist-worn devices there’s Fineck. It’s a smart necklace that tracks the usual health metrics as well as posture, which may be helpful in this internet age of hunching over our desks.
The Fineck has a titanium tracker on the back portion of the necklace that monitors your movement and posture positioning. The rest of the band is made of medical-grade silicone. It syncs with an app that keeps tabs on your fitness as well as your neck habits, like if you’re holding your head to one side for too long, it’ll alert you to straighten out your posture. Battery life is estimated at seven days on a single charge.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Fineck, you may have to invest in one first. Though, it’s not a guarantee. Check out its Kickstarter page.
Bicycles are a great way to commute to and from the office and in an eco-friendly way, but sometimes it’d be nice to have a boost when a ride begins to wear on you. Evelo’s Omni smart wheel can provide that extra jump to make those uphill battles seem like riding on flat ground.
The Omni is a 26-inch wheel that replaces the front one already on your bike. While it would seem more efficient to replace the back, it’s also more of a hassle. The wheel comes with its own monochrome wireless display, which will provide users with basic readouts on speed and distance. On a single charge it can go around 25 miles.
If you’re already enticed, prepare your wallet. The Omni Wheel will cost $999 to pre-order off Evelo’s website.
A typewriter with a modern twist
Writers need to immerse themselves in their craft — eliminate all distractions to focus on constructing their grand story. But let’s face it, most of us aren’t able to get one page down before were off on some meme site or looking at cats. Computers are distracting, if only you could go back to the days of good, old-fashion typewriters. For every problem, there is a tool, and Hemingwrite might be that tool.
This distraction-free machine blends the simplistic design of a typewriter, but with some modern twists. It features a mechanical keyboard (great for long-term typing), so it’s still noisy, but far less so compared to the typewriters of old. Instead of paper, it has an e-ink display to edit-over your words inside a coffee shop and out in bright sunlight — with the additional benefit of causing less strain on your eyes.
The Hemingwrite is also quite travel-friendly. It has an estimated four week battery life, and features a carrying handle. If you’re interested in having a writing tool that doesn’t tempt you away from your work, check out the Hemingwrite’s Kickstarter page where the development team is asking for funds to help production.