Battery could revolutionize wearables

Powering wearable devices is one of the big challenges when designing a device that is small and compact enough to wear comfortably. A lot of the bulk is a result of trying to squeeze in rather large battery cells that can carry enough juice to power the device for a decent duration of time. Well, that's about to change. Hot new start-up, Imprint Energy, has created a new type of battery that is flexible and can be screen printed. I spoke with Brooks Kincaid from Imprint Energy at the Wearable Technology conference in San Francisco in 2012 where I learned about his promising new technology. The battery is very exciting for the wearable future. It's extremely flexible and can even hold a charge if a hole is punched through it. I wonder if it could handle seam integration. just get it to handle the washing machine...

Can't wait to get your hands on it? Unfortunately, you'll have to wait. It won't be available for a while.

More info at Gigaom.

Sony files for smart glasses patent

Continuing the race to who creates the first market-ready heads-up display...Sony has "quietly applied for a patent on a familiar-looking smart glasses system whose advantage over [Google Glass] would be an emphasis on things in twos. Eyepieces are the most obvious, but Sony is also keen on sharing data between two friends: transmitters on a pair of glasses would send personal info through a likely very uncomfortable glance at someone else with the same eyewear. If your friends are more than a little weirded out from sharing by staring, the proposed glasses could still pick up information from visual tags on posters, products and virtually anything else. There's even the obligatory connection to a watch for sharing data with the rest of the world. Whether or not the patent leads to Sony head-mounted technology more advanced than a personal 3D TV is still up in the air, especially with Google currently hogging the spotlight... not that existing, more conservative designs have ever stopped Sony from rolling out wild concepts before." Continue reading on Engadget With any smart glasses solution there are a lot of design and user experience challenges. For one, I don't think we want to live in a world where people are walking around distracted by UI flying in front of them, running into things, and zoning out like a drone when they talk to you. There's also a huge dork-factor with technology-based eyewear. But there is a big opportunity to create an entirely new interaction paradigm with this type of formfactor if it's done right. I just hope that whoever wins the race truly considers the experience and makes it useful, dork-free AND magical.

Lucy McRae creates liquid textiles for Robyn

Lucy McRae's incredible body of work straddles the worlds of fashion, technology and the body. She has spent many years architecting nan-technology and bio-tech structures around the body that re-shape the human silhouette. Her work is both fascinating and thought provoking. One of her recent projects was work that started over two years ago generating dynamic textiles made from liquid, air and vapor. The "liquid textile" was then used on set for Robyn's Indestructible music video. The effect is mesmerizing. Here's the making of...

"1.2 kilometres of transparent plumbing tubing was knitted with fishing wire to skin Robyn’s body. 40 litres of glycerol pumps through over a kilometre of tube, powered by drill pumps that connect to valves releasing air intermittently between the liquid. Gradient colors pulse through the tubes at different speeds, the effect is a living, breathing dynamic skin that traverses the landscape of the body.

The Dream Team is Lucy McRae, Barnaby Monk, Mike Pelletier, Sanne Van Wersch, Laetitia Migliore and Amba Molly. Special Thanks to Mandy, Sofie, Froukje, Maaike, Honor, Loes, Ine and Branca. Edited by Ine van den Elsen."

Continue reading on Images from

MSR explores wearable touch and gesture

Microsoft Research Redmond researchers Hrvoje Benko and Scott Saponas have been investigating the use of touch interaction in computing devices since the mid-’00s. Now, two sharply different yet related projects demonstrate novel approaches to the world of touch and gestures. Wearable Multitouch Interaction gives users the ability to make an entire wall a touch surface, while PocketTouch enables users to interact with smartphones inside a pocket or purse, a small surface area for touch. Both projects will be unveiled during UIST 2012, the Association for Computing Machinery’s 24th Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, being held Oct. 16-19 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Make Every Surface a Touch Screen

Wearable Multitouch Interaction turns any surface in the user’s environment into a touch interface. A paper co-authored by Chris Harrison, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University and a former Microsoft Research intern; Benko; and Andy Wilson—describes a wearable system that enables graphical, interactive, multitouch input on arbitrary, everyday surfaces.

“We wanted to capitalize on the tremendous surface area the real world provides,” explains Benko, of the Natural Interaction Research group. “The surface area of one hand alone exceeds that of typical smart phones. Tables are an order of magnitude larger than a tablet computer. If we could appropriate these ad hoc surfaces in an on-demand way, we could deliver all of the benefits of mobility while expanding the user’s interactive capability.”

The Wearable Multitouch Interaction prototype is built to be wearable, a novel combination of laser-based pico projector and depth-sensing camera. The camera is an advanced, custom prototype provided by PrimeSense. Once the camera and projector are calibrated to each other, the user can don the system and begin using it.

Continue reading about Wearable Multitouch at Microsoft Research...

PocketTouch: Through-Fabric Input Sensing

PocketTouch: Through-Fabric Capacitive Touch Input—written by Saponas, Harrison, and Benko—describes a prototype that consists of a custom, multitouch capacitive sensor mounted on the back of a smartphone. It uses the capacitive sensors to enable eyes-free multitouch input on the device through fabric, giving users the convenience of a rich set of gesture interactions, ranging from simple touch strokes to full alphanumeric text entry, without having to remove the device from a pocket or bag.

Benko also stresses that both Wearable Multitouch Interaction and PocketTouch are evolutionary steps of a larger effort by Microsoft Research to investigate the unconventional use of touch in devices to extend Microsoft’s vision of ubiquitous computing.

Continue reading this article at Microsoft Research... Main image from Compliance Research

Cubify creates 3D printed shoes

3D printing was all the rage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that I attended this month. One stand-out was Cubify's consumer-targeted desktop printer called Cube that is cheap enough for home use (retails for around $1200).

Imagine the ability to download any product data, modify it how you want to, and print it right there at home. They even have a community set up of designers and experts to help you "express yourself in 3D" and achieve what you imagine. Cubify had a lot of examples of the types of products that could be printed using their printers including an incredibly flexible mesh that they printed as a glove that was so soft to wear it almost took on fabric qualities.

My favorite were the full scale women's shoes that just happened to be my exact size. So of course I tried them on. Hot off the printer with virtually zero touch-ups or assembly, these heels held my weight and were actually quite comfortable (well, as comfortable as 4-inch heels can get). One pair even included a slidable compartment to store your phone (although, I'm still not sure how I would answer it even with a blue tooth headset). Here's a look at the 3D-printed footwear in action. This video was taken by the folks at Cubify at their booth that they generously shared with me. Thanks Cubify!

Info on 3D printing: 2012 Consumer Electronics Show: Images and more info at The Verge and Gizmodo

Forget about the killer app, we need a killer OS

There's a lot of discussion around what the first wearable technology "killer app" will be, but first what we need at this early cusping time in the field is the killer operating system to run that killer app. Apple just might be the one to make it happen and I've got my eye on the Nano (among others). With hundreds of millions of iOS devices becoming ubiquitous among Apple users, turning the Nano into a wearable technology iOS seems like a good place to start. Perhaps that's what Apple's not-so-recent hire, wearable technology guru Richard W. DeVaul is up to these days.

The iPod nano is a tiny touchscreen with four small icons and simple apps, including FM radio, music app, photos app, voice notes and pedometer for NikePlus, one of the first wide-spread wearable technology solutions for casual runners. The size and power of this little device makes it a perfect contender for a wearable OS where the device is the hub that can potentially run smart garment "accessories". And with Scott Wilson's (MNML) LunaTik wristband accessories, it's even easier to wear.

But Apple's not the only company creating products in this space. Sony Ericsson has developed the small-scale Liveview with similar capabilities:

Another is the wearable WIMM Android platform, which is a full fledged, stand-alone device including Bluetooth AND Wifi, making it potentially easy to connect smart garment accessories to it: \

And perhaps Google has something up their sleeves with their recent $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility that was announced this morning.

Now, if only Apple would introduce wireless capabilities to the Nano...

Read more opinions at 9to5Mac.