Wearables are back in fashion. After a small downturn due to the stagnation of sports watches, more and more technophiles are betting on devices that are characterized by being fully integrated into our clothes (and even body). From accessories of style such as Luppo bone transmission glasses to others of a medical nature, we can say that we are facing the real technology to carry.
The current limitations in terms of energy storage and miniaturization, more than the processing capacity, are two of the factors that hinder the launch of genuinely revolutionary devices that will change our day to day exactly as the mobile phone has done. The ideas, however, are already on the table. And that’s how scientists from all over the world want to redefine the concept of personal technology.
Spray antennas so you never lose coverage
There is no doubt that LTE connectivity has immensely improved the coverage of our mobile phones thanks to its greater penetration capacity. The 5G will make things even better. However, there are still places where reception is complicated. Basements, remote villages, tunnels … the antenna of the smartphone is not enough, but luckily there are solutions on the way.
One of the most curious is proposed by scientists from Drexel University, in the United States, who have developed a spray antenna . How it sounds. Based on a newly created metal compound, this water-based sprayer could create highly conductive and extremely thin layers , barely tens of nanometers. Moreover, the application is transparent, so it would not present major problems to the designers.
The possibilities opened by this technology are important. We can imagine thinner phones whose complete casing acts as an antenna, but also smart watches with data and an infinite universe of objects housed in the Internet of Things devoid of conventional physical antennas and with better connectivity.
Luppo, the sunglasses that allow you to listen to music through the skull
But the most revolutionary technologies do not have to be far from reaching the market. Good proof of this are the Luppo glasses, which allow you to listen to music and receive calls without using a headset or a handsfree to use. In fact, we do not even have to miss the conversations around us, since they transmit sound through the bones of our skull . And it is that we do not have to wait for the future to find revolutionary wearable technology.
The operation of the Luppo glasses is based on the principle of bone transmission, discovered hundreds of years ago but only recently applied in commercial products. Used for example in military communication systems, this system does not vibrate the eardrum and ossicle chain directly to stimulate the auditory nerve, but uses tiny systems of vibration in contact with our head.
The general idea is that the vibrations generated by the glasses largely bypass the eardrum, so that our ears are completely clear. In this way it is possible to listen to music without blocking our ears with headphones , making it easier to hold conversations or simply improving the perception of our surroundings. And also, we avoid cable problems.
Pants and jackets that charge the mobile
That people are stuck with WhatsApp and Instagram is a fact. That in spite of our saving tips and the use of light applications are still battery, too. For this reason, more and more people carry a powerpack or auxiliary battery in the bag or backpack, but in the future it will be possible to charge the mobile in our pockets, without the need for additional accessories. Because the charger will be integrated into the clothes themselves.
The idea is not entirely novel. Some years ago, Microsoft and fashion designer Adrien Sauvage presented some Chinese pants with Qi wireless charging . For this they used the technology of a commercial wireless charging base completely disassembled and integrated into the textile component of the garment together with a small battery. Finally, they did not appear as a commercial product, but they laid the foundations for future developments.
The problem that this type of garments have had until now is that the electronic components of a wireless charger are relatively bulky and rigid. The technology has yet to evolve to enable wireless charging at a considerable speed and without connection failures. And forget about washing anything by machine. However, there are some startups that work on wireless charging platforms for clothing , such is the case of Humavox.
According to Humavox, its Eternal charging technology will be able to supply power to all types of devices, from smart watches to smart phones, heart rate monitors and smart glasses, it will be completely washable and will even make it possible to feed sensors for measuring dangerous gases in technical clothing.
The main problem of Eterna is that it still has a time of development and it will be necessary to see what companies are interested in it, especially given the latest advances of the Qi platform. Until then, the best thing you can do to charge devices like Luppo glasses is to look for a good powerpack and a backpack with USB cable.
Tattoos to control health … and even the mobile
Not all wearables can be detected at first glance, however. Scientists from all over the world work on various technologies that will make it possible to create intelligent tattoos , thanks to which we can control domotic systems, access the mobile phone or even make sure that we do not suffer any health problems. Approaches to this interesting idea are diverse, as many as its possibilities.
Researchers from the Saarland University, in Germany, work for example in a kind of decal with printed filaments and electrodes to control for example the volume of the music that we are playing on the phone. The idea is intriguing, since we could discreetly put them in freckles and other skin marks to use these buttons intuitively, and there are even plans to use luminescent inks to denote the entry of notifications.
Thinking about health, the creative studio Chaotic Moon developed a prototype temporary tattoo with an 8-bit RISC chip that could be used to monitor the health of the carrier or make contactless payments.
The technology was not up to standard, but the DermalAbyss project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has taken the general idea and has taken a more organic turn to bring it closer to the market, using special inks and biosensors that react to factors such as the pH of the skin and the level of glucose detected, changing color when important alterations are detected.
These tattoos have already been tested using pig skin and show promising results. It is another type of wearable technology, less electronic but not without interest for millions of people around the world. The cyberpunk novels are about to leave the field of science fiction to become a reality.
Lenses for diabetics that measure the level of glucose
Speaking precisely of the health sciences, possibly one of the most intriguing projects of all that we have seen recently are the smart contact lenses of Google. Announced a few years ago, these contact lenses seek to revolutionize the design of wearable technology, promising to measure the level of blood glucose thanks to an ultra-thin chip and an equally small antenna to send data to an external device, such as a telephone mobile.
The purpose of this initiative developed by the experimental department Google X and the pharmaceutical Novartis is to offer a commercial product for the year 2020. If there is luck, since scientists have encountered some difficulties along the way. Once they are removed, Google states that their contact lenses will be able to notify the carrier by notifying them when their glucose levels drop or shoot dangerously, all without the need to manually take measurements or carry a specialized device.
Bone transmission glasses Luppo in El Corte Inglés
Although almost all the technologies that we have mentioned in this article are still years to reach the market, the Luppo bone transmission glasses are a very palpable reality. Equipped with Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to any mobile phone, they transmit high-clarity sound without headphones or block our ears. They incorporate a tactile surface on the rods to control musical reproduction and reception of calls , while charging is executed using a microUSB connector.