Nov 162014
 

With the popularity of wearable fitness devices, it has become common to see everyday consumers using devices to monitor their health and activity. Devices such as the fitbit flex  track activity such as steps, distance, calories burned, and sleep. These measurements have become fairly common today, but in comparison to the availability of fitness tracking technology twenty years ago, the growth in the industry is noticeable. Now the advancements in wearable technology are on the cusp of providing data tracking for vital signs that were previously only available in a hospital setting.

A new device called Muse uses sensors worn on the head to measure brain signals using Electroencephalography (EEG) science. The device is marketed as a tool that a user can use to train their brain in an effort to reduce stress, improve focus, and increase concentration.

According to the website, “Muse detects your brain signals during a focused attention exercise the same way a heart rate monitor detects your heart rate during physical exercise.” The device has 7 sensors to detect and measure brain activity, and then processes and exports this data into graphs and charts on the users mobile device. The data is then used to allow the user to train their brain using “focused attention training,” in a way that the company relates to being the “mental equivalent of a treadmill.”

Focused attention training is explained as an exercise that monitors how a user responds to distractions, and audible feedback. The examples below are diagrams of how a person’s mind tends to wander, and how using Muse could improve mental focus:

brainTraining_attn_loop_A-1brainTraining_attn_loop_B-1

Images  via ChooseMuse.com

The user wears the device during “exercise” and the device translates brain signals into the sounds of wind. When the user’s mind is calm and settled, they hear a calm and settled breeze, but when the user’s brain is active (distracted) the winds will pick up and blow. When a user is able to maintain a level of calm for an extended period of time, bird sounds will be introduced to announce that the mind is calm. The bird sounds will add an additional opportunity to monitor their progress because it requires the user to react to the additional stimulation, and respond in a manner that does not give in to additional distractions. This will hopefully allow the user to develop control over their mind, which they can then apply to distractions when not wearing the device.

Muse is based on research that has shown that focused attention training has been shown to reduce pain, reduce anxiety, improve mood, and reduce heart rate. Prolonged sessions have been documented to suggest other benefits, such as increased grey matter density, reduced thinning of the prefrontal cortex, decreasing amygdala activity (associated with stress response), and increased resilience and immune function – which basically suggests an overall positive change of the brain’s structure and function. The health implications of devices such as Muse have been largely discussed, and in “Vital Signs,” Bradley Quinn notes the potential for sensoring technology within healthcare, and provides a variety of examples that show the positive impact of wearable technology that is already available. Quinn points out the possibility of wearable technology detecting, and stopping, an episode in patients susceptible to strokes, or liable to have seizures, and it would seem that technology such as Muse could be adapted to perform similar tasks. While Muse is not an approved form of treatment for neurological disorders, it does suggest that there is a developing market for wearable technology within the realm of personal health. Devices such as Muse could lead to wearable technology that could increase the quality of life for many individuals who live with a variety of medical conditions.

SOURCES:

http://www.choosemuse.com

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

Sep 302014
 

By: Jordan Massey

Image courtesy of Bragi.com

Image courtesy of Bragi.com

The age of wired technology is fast approaching its long-awaited doom.

While you were still busy ogling over the burgeoning trend in wearable fitness technology, one talent-stacked european company has been developing the Swiss Army Knife of wearable tech. Some say it’s a pair of wireless headphones, others say it’s a fitness tracker. Surprisingly, the Dash is both! And there’s none of that fitness tracker wristband malarkey, this gadget really does do it all.

The Dash by Bragi was first submitted as a Kickstarter project, and it raised an astounding $3.3 million, well above the project’s stated goal of $260,000. The Dash itself is a pair of wireless earbuds that also has the ability to track fitness data. The full list of features is nothing short of impressive, provided the real thing lives up to the hype.

The Dash, aside from taking advantage of wireless tethering, also has an onboard 4GB MP3 player, so the user with an active lifestyle does not need to carry a companion smartphone. The device features both Noise Reduction and Audio Transparency, which enables the user to allow environmental noise to pass through the headphones. This carries the benefit of allowing a user to remain aware of changes in their immediate area. An embedded earbone microphone is advertised as allowing crisp and clear phone conversations. Sporting an innovative dual touchpad control interface, the user can give several different commands to the Dash by simply swiping the cover of their earpiece.

In the image below you can see what the Dash looks like in-ear. While significantly larger than other earbuds on the market, the Dash is contoured to the shape of the middle ear. This allows room for all the added features, including the battery, while marketed as also providing a secure fit for active users. The flat surface in the middle of the earbud is the touch control interface. Swiping vertically, horizontally, and tapping can give the Dash various commands on either ear.

Continue reading »

Sep 212014
 

 By: Benaiah Ely

Photo courtesy of www.LiveAthos.com

Athos performance wear
Photo courtesy of www.LiveAthos.com

As the age of information progresses, people and organizations alike are benefitting from the ease at which they can access information pertaining to nearly everything via the internet. The development and continued use of social networks in particular has given people the chance to either share or receive knowledge regarding technologies, fashion, events and even health advice with others. Because of this, at least in part, there has been an increase in the formation of groups focused on increasing health awareness and the active decision to lead a life filled with healthy decisions. We’ve seen groups, almost recognizable as subcultures, form and gain mass participation as part of this process. Recognizable names, such as P90X or CrossFit, come to mind. Part of the appeal of said groups is that pretty much anyone can join.

So why wouldn’t everyone partake in such groups? As modern media outlets, particularly in the United States, continue to place an emphasis on maintaining a ‘fit’ and ‘toned’ exterior, it is not unreasonable to think that almost anyone would want to be part of such an active culture. So why aren’t they? It begins with establishing the basis for being able to participate in such groups. People need to be able to accomplish at least minor physical achievements to have the foundation to keep up with the aforementioned groups. It is likely that this can be accomplished by semi regular visits to a gym or fitness facility. But, as some people may know from personal experience, it isn’t always that simple. Gym phobias can set in, or rather, fears that often stem from working out in front of others. Often, these fears are due simply to a lack of information. What workouts are the best for me? Which exercises should I do to target specific muscles? How do I know I’m doing the workouts right? These are all legitimate questions, likely faced by many of us. To overcome this, some seek the opinions or expertise of those who are well versed in exercise. An entire business has been founded on this idea, as personal trainers or fitness instructors have become an integral part of any gym. What do they do exactly? Well, they more or less tell the individual which workouts to do, how to perform the exercises in an optimal manner, and encourage the participant throughout the workout. It is a noble practice and an often necessary one. Even some of the most avid exercise fanatics will admit that monitoring your own exercises to make sure they’re being performed optimally can be a difficult task. Thus, the need for a personal trainer is only heightened. Right?

Feeling similar frustrations, Dhananja Jayalath and Christopher Wiebe, two gym-goers frustrated with their routines, decided to take action. Together, they “set out on a mission to help people improve their lives by providing actionable insights without disrupting their existing routines.” Essentially, the two individuals combined digital technology and performance wear to create clothing that will, in a sense, become your personal trainer. Thus, Athos was born. Continue reading »

Oct 282013
 

 

Exmobaby-Pajamas-Track-Baby-Vitals-Use-AT-T-WirelessIf there is one thing that all new parents have in common, it is the desire to understand exactly what their little bundle of joy is thinking and feeling. There are dozens of products in circulation that try to bridge the gap between the mind of the infant and their parents which include audio/video baby monitors and millions of insightful baby-interpretation books. Stepping far beyond these devices, however, is the Exmobaby technology. The company, Exmovere, has created a device that actually has the ability to easily, safely, and accurately read your baby’s moods, vitals, and physical state.

The Exmobaby is an article of clothing that contains a band of dozens of tiny sensors and monitors that can keep track of virtually every aspect of your baby’s physical state. This product comes in the form of a hypoallergenic onesie that comes in four sizes, ranging from newborn to twelve months of age. The electronic components of the garment (a thin strip around the middle and a separate wireless transceiver housed in a pouch on the front) are removable so that the garment is completely machine washable. The main electronic components are housed separately in a “bay station” that does not come in contact with the baby, ensuring that the infant is kept safe.

According to Exmovere, the Exmobaby uses embedded electrocardiogram, skin temperature, and moisture and movement sensors, to wirelessly transmit the baby’s vitals to the receiving device via bluetooth. The system constantly monitors the baby’s physical state and is then able to detect any abnormalities or alarming symptoms. This information is then sent from the monitor to the phone/tablet/computer of the parent/grandparent/nanny/etc. The accompanying smart phone application also allows the user to create alerts based on different physical states of the baby. For instance, if you notice your baby is happy at a particular time, you could save those vitals so that you will know next time that mood arises.This would be particularly helpful with moods like “hungry” or “tired” which can often leave inexperienced parents completely perplexed.

exmobaby_2

The Exmobaby, while targeted at new parents, would be particularly useful in cases of babies with medical issues. Babies with heart problems, seizures, or mental disorders could be monitored remotely by the parent, providing much more peace of mind. Parents can keep track of their baby while at work, on vacation, or when simply leaving their child at daycare for the day.  With the app connected to the monitor, this product also becomes even more relevant with parents of today’s generation who rely on their technology more than ever before. This is also good news for Exmovere because, as stated in the article “The App Wars Come To Wearables – Consumers Will Be The Winners“, apps which aid in everyday life without being strictly fitness related, are going to skyrocket as more emerging companies like Exmovere begin to utilize them.

This device will open up a whole new world for wearable technology as well as parents as they can now closely monitor their babies health and mood right from their smart phone. The Exmobaby takes “wearing your heart on your sleeve” to a whole new level and I can’t help but wonder what they will think of next.