Dec 102014
 

by Christopher G. Lewis

The final results of creative projects often differ greatly from the original concepts. It’s certainly true for my EMAC 6372 final project, the “Carbon Monoxide Sensing Hat.”

noise hoodie

It only required forcing existing tech into a hoodie.

 

 

The first concept I tried to develop focused on noise pollution and frustrated me completely. It was a creative and technical non-starter with only one positive, NO ARDUINO CODING. I stubbornly persisted with it because my fearful dread of code outweighed the logistics of a proper concept I actually felt strongly about.

 

 

 

During the third week of November, still mentally bankrupt over my first idea, I realized the anniversary of the day I started smoking was Wednesday the 19th. Had it really been 20 years since Nov. 19, 1994? How many cigarettes is that? What do my lungs look like? How much money spent?

Let’s see… 1 – 2 packs per day at approximately $5 per pack ($1/pack in 1994, but as much as $10 in recent years) I’ll guess $7.50 per day spent for this calculation (about 1.5 packs/day).

$7.50 x 365 = $2,737.50, $2,737.50 x 20 years =

$54,750

I need to quit, but I’ve tried just about everything with limited to no success. I know cigarettes are bad. It says so right on the pack.

 

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

For health reasons, I typically only smoke the ones that complicate pregnancy

Then inspiration struck. I found my final project concept.

“The Black-Lung Canary CO Sensing Hat”

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap on a wire bust of myself I made years ago

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

GasCap setting off CO alarm LEDs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name “Black-Lung Canary” references the small birds miners once used to detect deadly gasses underground. The hat functions similarly to the bird, but hats don’t die. Among the thousands of other chemicals in cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide (CO) is a proven killer. It’s the same gas released from a car’s tailpipe.

Parallax, Inc. produces an Arduino compatible gas sensing kit. The board comes with two sensors, the MQ-7 (Carbon Monoxide) and the MQ-4 (Methane).

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

http://www.parallax.com/product/27983

The gas sensor board functions by heating up the MQ-7 sensor to purge particulates and then runs a sensing cycle. It must be calibrated by adjusting the alarm trip level in conjunction with the sensitivity level. I set both to about .8V, sensitive enough for smoke, but not overly sensitive. That took quite a bit of time as I don’t smoke inside my house and cold temperatures will affect the reading. Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 

IMG_0406My project in essence was to make a wearable fashion technology that addressed the issue of gender identity by attempting to break gender roles. I believe the project was successful in doing this and raised a number of issues

Barnard says that fashion is not fashion until it can be placed within the context of a social structure [Barnard 19]. Ultimately, this allows people to attach value to what becomes fashion.

Barnard says that fashion is a means for a cultural group to shape its identity. Furthermore, fashion can function at the level of the individual or the level of society [Barnard 21]. Throughout some of the readings there arises the white male identity. There comes the question of if I am one of these that suffer from the tunnel vision associated with white male privilege. The most important issue this raises is that fashion results in assumptions or generalizations that are attributed to people.

Russell describes a social needIMG_0411 to conform to a group mentality where society is broken down based on social status. It goes on to describe fashion as a means of fulfilling this need. It follows then that fashion must be understood as cultural artifacts [Russell 38]. I think it would not be possible to approach the topic of gender isolated from other issues such as social status. However, the idea of a group mentality or collective is interesting to my wearable. I think it is important to think of ourselves in terms of group psychology. My project addresses this issue as well as the idea of being othered, the antithesis of conforming to a prescribed gender role. Carrying on with this idea, I think it also has the effect of thinking about rejecting gender binarism. It questions the standard of being heterosexual and masculine.

Barnard describes a social need present in people to individualize themselves and set themselves apart from society. Thus, fashion is dependent on the conditions set by society [Barnard 12]. I think that there is no singular logic then that defines cultures and therefore this wearable project could be repeated in the context of a different culture.

This implies that fashion is therefore an inescapable part of any given culture. Fashion is therefore relativized by a given culture so that fashion cannot be understood without this social context [Russell 38]. This was the single most significant factor during the experience of my project. If we take the assumption that I am privileged in the sense of being a white male, this would help describe any anxiety that came about during the project. This is because I perceive that I am committing a taboo and there is a response.

Barnard describes how society seeks to de-individualize people and in response to this people promote the expression of the individual [Barnard 13]. I think that this somehow plays into the group mentality phenomenon that I have described. In this way the anxiety that I have described about the process can be borne out of a fear to individualize myself to an excessive degree.

Barnard would describe it as being tied to the inclusion of an individual into specific societal subgroups and at the same time being individualized [Barnard 12]. This might have something to do with the term ‘cool’ that is used by Russell that relates to a person being easy in both dimensions of people identifying with groups and the individual.

Barnard describes clothing and fashion as the means to which social relations between peoples occur [Barnard 9]. As a consequence of this I think that the social relations that might exist between different peoples or cultures can be applied here. The anxiety I felt towards the project could be borne out of a fear for consequences stemming from breaking gender roles. This reveals something about the social structure to which I am a part of. It begs the question of what the consequences are in the case of this wearable.

Another question that is raised by Barnard is why would there be reluctance by a male in Western societies to wear an item of clothing that is labeled feminine. Barnard adequately describes a fear of being branded as being effeminate or a homosexual [Barnard 25]. I think there is the idea of taboo that might be used to describe this phenomenon. This is of course the essential issue of my wearable project involving the idea of breaking gender roles.

When Entwistle describes the way in which people identify gender as being arbitrary this again goes back to the idea that fashion is a relative term and there is no objective standard on the term [Entwistle 141]. When an individual challenges these gender associations, they are then challenging the culture to which the gender associations are attributed to.

Entwistle describes how self-consciousness in appearance can be caused by not fitting in with prescribed cultural forms which are the cause for preconceptions and limitations in society [Entwistle 150]. A question arises of how my wearable relates to existing preconceptions and if it lies outside of these. I mentioned before the anxiety I felt which I attribute to fear of committing social taboo.

In my project, I seemed to have the self-consciousness about labels, and I think in the process was able to confront my privilege as a white male. I confronted the reality of the actual world and the preconceptions. Identity in the actual world is heavily scrutinized by society. This is to be expected and it can be related to the topic in class of online environments and the absence of these limitations that society has built for itself.

Entwistle says that androgyny in fashion is not to be confused with an absence of gender differentiation but merely tests the boundaries [Entwistle 171]. I would agree with the position that androgyny is in short supply, at least in the culture I live in. I suspect that in this culture there is a significant polarizing effect that in general seeks to clearly define gender. This can be a difficult endeavor as the relativistic nature of gender would imply.

One of my concerns in my project was that it would be considered androgynous. I think ultimately that there is a very fine line that encompasses androgyny. Merely labeling something as a women’s clothing has the potential to push it over that line.

Ultimately, I think fashion is dependent on existing social conditions and these existing conditions are necessary when considering gender in relation to fashion.

 

References:

Barnard, Malcolm. “Etymologies and Definitions of Fashion and Clothing” in Fashion as Communication 8 – 26 (17 pps)

Entwistle, Joanne. “Fashion and Gender” in The Fashioned Body 140 – 180 (41 pps)

Russell, Luke. “Tryhards, Fashion Victims, and Effortless Cool” in Fashion: Philosophy for Everyone 37 – 50 (14 pps)

 

 

Dec 072014
 

Tyranny of the Arbitrary

Hardware

This project aims to recreate a simplistic version of a fitness tracker. Instead of being made for humans, however, this device is designed to be worn by a dog. The garment is a collar made from fabric and garment interfacing. The collar is constructed in such a way that two the two pieces of fabric are sewn along one of the long edges and can open like a book. The LilyPad and accelerometer are sewn to the inside of the “book” and are connected via conductive thread. When worn, the top flap is folded over the electronics, and snaps to the other piece of fabric to provide protection. In order to record the data collected from the accelerometer, a Sparkfun OpenLog with a micro SD card attach to the FTDI connector. Data is stored on the SD card as a text file. At least this is how the hardware setup is supposed to work. There were some problems recording data to the OpenLog. Sparkfun customer support was not able to help me resolve the issue. Sparkfun was kind enough to test another OpenLog and sent it to me. However, I was unable to record data with this hardware as well. As such, the LilyPad was connected to a computer via the USB cable. Data in the serial monitor was copied to a text file.

Continue reading »

Nov 172014
 

By: Carion Jackson

Spoonflower logo

Spoonflower.com

Ever been to a store and saw something that would be great for your house only to find that the design wasn’t available in the color you needed? One couple figured out a solution to this problem and created a community that has people around the world clambering to it like free food, or in this case, free fabric.

Spoonflower is a digital textile printing company founded in 2008 by Stephen and Kim Fraser after Kim was unable to find a specific pattern she needed for curtains for their home. According to the video on Spoonflower’s YouTube channel, Kim approached Stephen and said “It would be really cool if I could design my own fabric for curtains”. Stephen, being supportive of his wife, found a way to make her dreams a reality. They went on to create a service that allows you —the user—to create and print any wallpaper, fabric, or wrapping paper you want. In addition, they pay designers a portion of the profit they make from the designs, which encourages independent designers. All you have to do is upload an image for the pattern you want, choose to center or repeat it, then have it printed.

Fabric printer at Spoonflower

Photo by Julie Schneider via Etsy

There are several great things that can be said about Spoonflower. I commend the Frasers’ ability to create something that puts the power of creation back into the buyer’s hands. With that being said, there are several things that should be reevaluated, such as the company’s Terms of Service. Users are allowed to upload any image and claim ownership simply by clicking the box that says, “I own the rights to this image,” but the actual owner of the content has to go through six steps to prove that copyright infringement has occurred.

Rolls of Spoonflower wrapping paper

Photo by Julie Schneider via Etsy

My issue with this is if Spoonflower puts users through the same six steps it puts designers claiming their designs were stolen, there wouldn’t be an issue of ownership. By accepting the images, selling the images, and paying the user that uploaded the images, Spoonflower takes on the role of “owner” but dodges the responsibility of copyright infringement, leaving the user to take the blame. In short, Spoonflower is in many ways like Craigslist. You create an account and produce and sell content at your own risk.

 

 

Sources:

Arnold, Rebecca. Fashion: A Very Short Introduction Ch. 5 (Ethics)

Creatives at Work

Spoonflower Emerging Designer Grant Pinterest

What is Spoonflower? (YouTube)

Spoonflower website (About)

Behind the Scenes at Spoonflower

Nov 102014
 
Smart Phin by Board Formula - via Wired.com

Smart Phin by Board Formula – via Wired.com

The best way to collect data in difficult locations is to use an adrenaline junkie to gather it for you. The Smart Phin can help surfers collect valuable data about the water they surf for researchers in order to understand more about our oceans.

Benjamin Thompson from Board Formula, the small company behind the Smart Phin, wants to involve surfers in collecting important data for scientific research. The Smart Phin attaches to any surfboard and comes with an smartphone app to upload data. Thompson eventually wants to start selling Smart Phins and has decided to keep the companion app open source, so developers can come up with their own apps that work with the fin.

Like the wearable technology health care researchers are currently adapting to monitor patients’ movements and vital signs, the Smart Phin acts as diagnostic technology, only for the ocean instead of the “wearer” (Quinn, 99). Much like more traditional wearable tech, the Smart Phin collects and measures information; Not only does it note the surfer’s location and time, the Smart Phin also logs the temperature, pH levels, and salinity of the ocean. The information is then uploaded via Bluetooth to a smartphone app, once the surfer hits dry land again. The more sensors in the water, the more points of data for scientists. Similar technology could also eventually be applied to wetsuits or diving equipment for information gathering at greater depths.

Crowdsourcing data collection via the Smart Phin could be a boon for marine scientists by helping to measure how climate change affects the world’s oceans.

Sources:

The Next Big Thing You Missed: Surfboard Collects Oceanic Data While You Ride Waves

Riding Massive Waves Could Fight Climate Change

Board Formula

Quinn, Bradley. “Vital Signs.” Textile Futures: Fashion, Design and Technology. Oxford: Berg, 2010. 85-107.

Nov 012014
 

By: Matt Youngblood

Tinkerbell dress, courtesy instagram.com/studio_xo

Richard Nicoll and Studio XO set off at London Fashion Week with one of the most recent endeavors in the area of wearable technologies, the Tinkerbell fiber optic dress. They were in partnership with Disney to produce a fashion technology that has connotations associated with the Disney intellectual property Peter Pan or more specifically Tinkerbell. The objective of Richard Nicoll was to display a fashion technology that negated technology and emphasized fashion. This idea was what motivated the wearable technology’s creation aside from the appropriation of Disney mythos. This is a very real concern in the area of fashion technology.

The Forbes article Is This The First Example Of Truly ‘Beautiful’ Wearable Tech? describes a wearble technology dress by Richard Nicoll and Studio XO. The article raises a number of issues by labeling wearable techs as being masculine due the negation of fashion by technology. The example of Richard Nicoll as being defined as something else is central. Implied in this is the idea that the technology impedes upon fashion itself. The term ‘fashion technology’ accurately describes this dilemma by delineating the two. The significance of this perspective of technology as being anti-fashion might itself be a way of arguing against the position of the articles author. The question that is raised from this becomes is the position that technology goes against fashion a sound position?

The article Is This The First Example Of Truly ‘Beautiful’ Wearable Tech? addresses how the consumer fashion industry has an irrevocable relation with and concerning the technology that is used in this industry. Technology itself is an inherently pervasive force in an ever evolving fashion industry as can be gathered from the article. The article denotes or implies a social dimension when referring to the fashion industry for wearable tech. Applied in this is that this occurrence can be observed in society. This is because and would imply that there is fashion that is heavily defined within a social context. A relation arises where fashion and society must always be reconciled with one another. This is not withstanding the relation between fashion and technology. It might also be inferred that the fundamental nature of technology in relation to society and fashion therefore describes why it is that fashion cannot be understood without the dimension of technology. Bradley Quinn addresses this issue in Textile Futures: Fashion, Design, and Technology when he describes that developments in the span of technology have broader implications for society or rather that technology presents us with “significant shifts in the consumer electronics industry” (Quinn 247).

This is important because the article is drawing conclusions in a way as to highlight that fashion is not defined by technology. This places fashion as absent of a tech context. To ignore this tech context and just acknowledge that fashion and technology are mutually independent of one another is to be in error. Some of the problems addressed within the article itself that are arising from a mutually dependent relation instead of a mutually independent relation proves this. For example, the article implies that the current state of the industry surrounding wearables is one that does not represent a diverse spectrum in respect to gender identities. It implies that this is as a result of and as a part of the intrusion of technology. This might mean then that the two forces of fashion and technology actually overlap at times as to be one in the same issue. The reverse could also be true by the logic of the article in that the aesthetic significance of the technology might not be intruding on fashion but fashion intruding on tech. Or, maybe the intrusion is not an intrusion. It could be that this intrusion is aesthetically coinciding with fashion so as to be within the realm of fashion. The article implies that this is not the case and that there is a definitive gap between the two.

One clear reason for the importance that must be placed on the observation that is negated from the article, that a technology perspective is in fact not essential relative to fashion, is it is not possible to accurately portray fashion if it is stripped of its technological context. The article implies that fashion must be seen and judged as irrespective of the technology. It can be asserted though that fashion cannot be correctly judged without a technological context which is critical because of how it describes fashion. The idea that technology is inseparable to fashion is a right one.  Fashion must be understood as relative to the context of tech. To give an example of this, the article very early implies that a relation exists between the effect of technology on fashion and fashion in the context of gender. One cannot ignore this significance. To say that tech in this case is merely an intrusion is to miss something.

The article explicitly states that fashion must not be dictated by technology. In other words, the interrelation between fashion and technology is such that technology must always work for fashion and not against it. This creates somewhat of a dilemma in that it must be that technology perpetuates fashion. There must be room for this conclusion. While technology evasively must remain ambiguous in the face of fashion according to the article, it also undeniably sets the limits to which fashion adheres. It creates a sort of basis for the underlying nature of the fashion industry involving wearable tech. Without it the fashion industry fails to have any bearing at all on anything. In effect, the wearable tech industry is nothing without technology. This is not to say anything of the relation these two subjects share with society as a whole. The relation between fashion and technology is perpetuating of one another, or recursively so, so there is a conspicuous need on the part of the articles author to acknowledge that the reason that it can be said that technology prevents fashion from reaching its full potential is that technology plays a pivotal role in the perpetual evolution of the wearable tech industry. This is due to an encumbrance that technology has on fashion. Quinn acknowledges the ability of the technology pertinent to the fashion industry as not only having a profound effect on the expanding of horizons of the fashion industry, but also affecting society as a whole (Quinn 246). This basically means that fashion has a technological context that cannot be ignored because it can be related to other areas that help define fashion. The rejection of technology in the face of fashion is nonsense.

Another consideration that can be drawn from this line of reasoning is that the article raises the issue that technology forms a practical basis for the fashion industry in terms of its immediate applications such as its materials and processes. This is to say nothing of emerging forms of technology that ultimately help shape fashion. A pervading theme in Quinn’s work is very much aligned to this notion that the fashion industry is grounded in the practical reality determined by technology. It can therefore be further implied or inferred as a result of this that the limitations in the realm of technology play heavily on the limitations of the fashion industry. As Quinn points out, the inclusion of technologies into a specific industry must necessarily demand that this specific industry be dependent on the state of said technology (Quinn 246).

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelarthur/2014/09/15/is-this-the-first-example-of-truly-beautiful-wearable-tech/
http://artandseek.net/2013/03/13/sxsw-where-high-tech-meets-high-fashion/
B. Quinn, Textile Futures: Fashion, Design, and Technology (Berg Publishers, Oxford, 2010).

Oct 202014
 

By: Ashleigh Havens

In September 2013, Israeli start-up company OrCam released the OrCam visual system to help the 300-million visually impaired people in the world “see.” OrCam is a portable device that is similar to Google Glass, composed of a camera and a small computer about the size of the typical glasses case that uses augmented reality. The device attaches by magnet to users’ glasses. OrCam is able to recognize text, products and even familiar faces. At the push of a button or a point of your finger, OrCam recognizes objects, and will read you information through the bone conducting earpiece. This device has a transducer that converts electric signals into mechanical vibrations which sends sound to the internal ear through the cranial bones. This makes the audio discrete so others do not realize you are receiving assistance. Through extended use, OrCam will recognize your personal objects such as credit cards, money notes, friends, favorite products, and more. Using this device helps the visually impaired to become more independent and relaxed about interacting with the world.

This product currently sells for $3,500. There is a possibility for reimbursement if it is covered by your vision insurance plan. Some vision insurance plans, usually premium plans will have limited funding for assistive devices. Most of the time this reimbursement is on a case by case basis. There are grants that you can apply for that you can use toward the cost of the OrCam device.

As with many new technological advances, this device has some faults. First of all, it is only available in the United States and the only language it supports is English. As this product advances the company hopes to make it capable of translating language and available to a wider audience. The OrCam does not recognize handwritten text.

Sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykDDxWbt5Nw&feature=youtu.be

www.orcam.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CyW04lSd4Y

Oct 132014
 

By: Thomas Hall

A better-performing you? “It’s as easy as putting on a shirt!”

The female and male variants of Hexoskin, shown with compatible Android and iOS devices. (Linked to Hexoskin.com)

The Hexoskin, a plain, black shirt, is actually a lightweight, all-encompassing fitness tracker for extreme athletics and everyday activities alike. Hexoskin has been in development since 2006, when a Montreal design duo came up with the idea to streamline the existing method of invasive and uncomfortable physical trackers. Their design was so tantalizing to aerospace use that the Canadian Space Agency has been working closely to fund and test the product since its conception. They plan to send the shirts to the International Space Station in coming years for use by astronauts.

How forward-thinking is Hexoskin? A Bluetooth transmitter slipped into a pocket of the shirt connects to your device of choice, and beams information such as heart rate, lung capacity, oxygen levels, and sleep patterns, all in real time. The most high-profile uses thus far have been by the 2014 Spartan Race World Champion, the Canadian Olympic skiing team, and by polar researchers for the Canadian Space Agency. Those with conditions such as cardiac defects can wear the shirt to monitor their activity for any dangerous deviations. The only option previously was to wear sticky sensors beleaguered with wires until enough data was recovered.

Possibly the  biggest boon to Hexoskin is that it is an Open Data device, meaning that any developer, or user, can pull the sensors’ readings into whatever platform they wish. This philosophy of openness has really taken off in recent tech products, from Fitbit, to Android Wear, to Apple’s Health app and smart watch. The Hexoskin technology has already been licensed to clothing manufacturers, in the hopes that popular name brands can bring down the hefty $399 price tag, as well as create buzz in pop culture.

The team claims that products like Hexoskin are key to “preventative medicine,” much like the dozens of sensors in your car are key to preventative maintenance. If wearable technology and the Quantified Self movement seemed like a fad in recent years, then that stigma is quickly dissipating. According to Nielsen, 15% of the population is trying on wearable technology, and over half of those early adoptions are fitness bands. So what is stopping a majority of the population from grabbing the best, or cheapest, or most colorful fitness tracker from the nearest shelf? The answer seems to be that the intersection of technology and fashion simply isn’t where it needs to be for wide adoption. Designers can only be free to make something truly usable and artistic when “not directed by marketing demands or production methods,” and the smallness, lightness, and excellent battery life of today’s cutting edge tech is only just beginning to become usable by fashion designers (Bradley Quinn, Cybercouture). With its minimalist design, loaded feature set, and lack of visual cues that scream “nerd,” Hexoskin is a chance for technology and quantified health to break into the most worn of all wearables: clothing.

 

Sources:

http://goo.gl/MJvkdl (Nielsen)

http://goo.gl/iQujaT (Forbes)

http://goo.gl/EEUTSB (Hexoskin)

http://goo.gl/BXxcpU (Quinn)

Sep 302014
 

What is often passed off as a negligible and readily available asset could be something that another person was eagerly waiting for. As students, reading forms a crucial part of our academics. However, for a person who is visually impaired, the path to obtain a formal education is wrought with difficulties like dependency on persons with normal vision or awaiting the availability of Braille versions of books. The World Health Organization estimates the population of visually impaired people as around 285 million. Yet, it is saddening to see that our technological advancements have not really been able to help them much. Until now.

Finger Reader Prototype

Finger Reader Prototype (http://indiaartndesign.com/IAnD_images/content2014/July/Fingerreader/FingerReader_IndiaArtnDesign(5).jpg MIT Fluid Interfaces Group )

The Fluid Interfaces group of Massachussets Institute of Technology(MIT)’s Media Lab has been working on a character reader that can fit on a person’s finger and can read text (off a surface) out loud as well as give signals to them. Termed “FingerReader”, the promise of this technology in aiding the visually impaired is in itself a noble cause. However, as scholars of wearable technologies, we need to look at the pros and cons of their design and what could be done to improve upon it.

fingerReader-that-reads-aloud-when-you-point-at-words-3

FingerReader (http://www.technicupdates.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/fingerReader-that-reads-aloud-when-you-point-at-words-3.jpg and MIT Fluid Interfaces Group)

 

Looking at the device, the immediate opinion that springs up is on the aesthetics. The ring seems overly bulky and we can see that there is a chip on one side and a wire that connects to a computer on the other. Having seen the extent of minimizing size whilst improving on the presentability of products, we can immediately say this is still in its development stage. However, when looking at the functional aspect of it, we find that there is much more than meets the eye. The technology seems to rely on a camera fitted on the device that sends in visual input to the system as the finger moves along the surface. Software then identifies spaces and characters and attempts to pronounce the same based on phonetic rules that have been pre-programmed. Although I am not sure about the voice, I think it is safe to assume that it is coming from the system’s built-in speakers and have a robotic echoing effect that would need to be worked upon. The speed of processing is not at the levels we are used to experiencing with the technologies we utilize everyday but, considering the amount of processing that needs to be done with each movement, the speed is appreciable. The Fluid Interfaces Group has put up a demo on their website which I have embedded below.

In the video, we can see that, although slow, the system is able to recognize and pronounce words accurately. The sensors and signals sent to show the ends and starts of lines are a thoughtful addition. The wearer doesn’t seem to feel the weight of the reader much and this is a sign that with future iterations, the size can definitely be scaled down even more. The group promises bluetooth enabling as well as mobile pairing options. It looks to be seen how much longer it will take to get all these implemented with the basic functional prototype. The group seems quite confident in their ability to sell and we can hope their pricing will be kept in a range that is affordable by a section of people who might not be economically well off.

For more details and to get involved with the project, do visit their website : http://fluid.media.mit.edu/projects/fingerreader

 

References : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/08/fingerreader-read-blind-mit_n_5565898.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

http://fluid.media.mit.edu/projects/fingerreader

Sep 292014
 

By Suzanna Brooks

The greatest improvements in medicine in the last few decades have been made possible by advances in technology. Today new personal and mobile technologies are just beginning to allow us to take charge of our own health and medicine. Smartphone apps compile data and provide solutions, and wearable technology such as fitness bands track movement, heart rate, and more. But this is just the start of a new wave of tech gadgets and apps that will revolutionize how we care for our bodies.

The sophistication and widespread availability of mobile technology for all aspects of healthcare are about to take off, and this advanced tech will help us to take responsibility for our own health. Mobile apps that help you count calories, lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, track your alcohol intake, or manage a specific health condition are already available and in use.

Babylon welcome screenshot

Babylon consult screenshot Images via Babylon on Google Play

Health apps of the very near future will include the likes of Babylon, an app that books virtual appointments, tracks symptoms, and receives your prescriptions with no wait time. Or you might use WellDoc, which could be prescribed by your doctor to support chronic disease management “by integrating clinical, behavioral, and motivational applications with everyday technologies, like the internet and cell phone, to engage patients and healthcare providers in ways that dramatically improve outcomes and significantly reduce healthcare costs.”

“During the next five years, health apps will empower consumers to make improved and informed lifestyle choices leading to better health and reducing the risk of chronic disease,” says Damon Lightley, managing director at Genetic Apps, an app developer for the health, sports, medical, and pharma markets. “They’ll also enable healthcare professionals to detect diseases earlier and reduce care costs.”

Current wearable technology for healthcare includes fitness bands that track steps like Jawbone UP and Fitbit Flex, the Withings Pulse O2 which combines a pedometer with a heart rate and blood oxygen monitor, and Google Glass—which, among its myriad of uses, helps doctors to see more patient data in real time, hands free, and allows surgeons to better perform minimally invasive operations requiring reliance on imagery.

Some of the new and upcoming wearable technologies that are focused on improving health sound strange, but are currently under development: a shirt that detects irregular blood sugar levels, contact lenses that monitor changes in the retina, and intelligent fibers in clothing that keep track of your pulse, breathing, and heart rate. Other developments on the way include a smart sock that keeps track of people with Alzheimer’s disease, a skin patch that provides hypodermic injections throughout the day, and Digitsole—an insole that connects to a mobile device allowing you to adjust the temperature of your shoes, track activity, and also help adjust your posture.

Continue reading »