My last day at CES did not disappoint. I wanted to get into a little bit of the medical technology that’s coming in 2015, so my first stop today was, of all things, a Japanese eyewear company called Jins. Look at the picture below. One of these things is not like the other.
Indeed, those thick specs in the middle are the Jins Meme, new wearable smartglasses that don’t look like you’re on a Star Trek set (okay, Google Glass). The glasses have sensors on the nose pads and bridge of your nose that determine where you’re looking, and on the back of the frame to detect your posture (mine was, well, fairly poor by day three). A companion app can help you detect calories burned and other metrics, but I’m not sure how you’d rely on a pair of specs for that.
Jins is opening its API to developers and has a special academic package they’ll be coming out with soon for researchers who work with the eyes. One of the interesting possibilities is to gauge your level of fatigue; let’s say you’re driving home and get drowsy. Your eyes start to flutter and slowly close. Ostensibly, the Meme will pick up on this and notify you via a smartphone app. This is one of the things today that promises both medical and practical usage. Expect the academics to get it sooner, and the go retail in the fall.
The other device I saw that stuck out to me was the Linx IAS sports impact monitoring system from appropriately named BlackBox Biometrics. Relevant now more than ever with the controversy surrounding how the NFL deals with concussions, the Linx IAS is a device—not larger than a USB drive—that you put into a skullcap and, using a 3-axis accelerometer and 3-axis gyroscope, can detect how hard you collide with another player. The accompanying app gives info on a smartphone or tablet with a color-coding system—green means you’re fine, yellow is to check for a concussion, and red… well, who needs a working brain?
Originally used by the military for about five years to test for signs of concussion after, say, IED blasts or artillery training, they’ve slimmed down the device so it fits under a helmet—though a helmet’s not necessary. They had it on a test dummy named Bob, and no matter how hard I hit him, I couldn’t seem to give Bob a concussion. The nice folks at the booth assured me that he’s tougher than he looks.
For mass production, this will be for a mother who wants to track her son’s collisions during a middle school football match in real time, along with coaches. The big-picture use is if they can get enough football players or active members of the military wearing them, then they have a large sample of data to do studies on and draw conclusions from. Here’s hoping.
The next booth I went to has been around for a bit, but with a growing user base, it might be worth taking another look. I’m talking about the Peloton bike, which has a screen in front of it for virtual spin classes in both real-time and pre-recorded. It also contains sensors to track your vitals—I believe you’d have to use a heart rate monitor or other wearable—as well as a “leaderboard” to show who—as in, which human being, not a bot—is working the hardest in your class. The downside for you means that the spin instructor knows that too and can yell at you.
I mentioned briefly in yesterday’s post that virtual fitness classes might have a hard time motivating their users without instructor interaction. That about solves it, though.