Views of a Wearable Future

By: 
June 19, 2014

Wearables have the potential to change how we interact with technology, but can they change the way we think about our health?

Intel and Samsung think so, and recently announced the development of new wearable technologies that can monitor your vitals 24/7. The innovations are perfectly hidden in everyday fitness clothes, but they do much more than your average Dri-FIT shirt.

Intel unveiled its new project at the Code Conference -- a smart shirt that contains sensors that monitor various indicators of health and is capable of monitoring heart rate, emotional states, and more. The sensors send all captured information to an app that the user can access for all their health needs.

The prototype features removable sensors that allow for washing of the garment. Intel has no plans to manufacture the garment itself, but is working on incorporating the sensors directly into the fabric, which will hopefully be spin cycle-friendly.

Intel plans on making a big splash in the wearable market by designing a whole line of smart devices for the eyes, body, ears, and wrists. The company has yet to announce a prospective release date for its product line, or an anticipated retail price for that matter, but with companies like Samsung to compete against, it had better act quickly.

It'll be tough to compete against the card Samsung has up its sleeve. The tech giant is looking to change the way we think about wearables with its reference design, Simband, a network of sensors that can do everything from monitor heart rate to pulse, with plans for much more.

Samsung unveiled the new platform at its Voice of the Body event, which seeks to improve health by better enabling people to listen to their bodies' natural indicators of health. The prototype kit includes fitness clothing and wristband with ECG sensors built in. When the user physically touches the band, it creates a complete circuit of sensors that work together to tell the user their state of health.

The Simband concept is intended to function on the shuttle battery, making it energy efficient. The interface is roughly half the size of a pack of gum and it runs on a 1 GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 28mm chip. It is also Bluetooth and WiFi capable.

Simband is open-source to encourage developers to create new uses for the technology. Samsung is already teaming up with a few organizations, such as the University of California at San Francisco's Digital Health Innovation Lab, to see if health-focused wearables can have a large impact on national health overall.

Samsung intends to couple its technology with the most innovative health technology to change the way we monitor our health on a daily basis. There has been no word on when the concept will retail and if so, what kind of capabilities it will have, but stay tuned -- this one may be big.

So, wearables aren't just to give us pseudo super powers after all.

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