News Roundup – January 2015

January as every year is a month full of news. And not everything was unveiled at CES. Let’s take a closer look on the tech that has been released during the first month of 2015.

CES showed news for babies, sportive people, workaholics, basically for almost every thinkable area in life!

French company myBrain Technologies presented Melomind, a headset that measures your brain waves and uses that information to create custom music to help you relax and decrease your stress levels. The product pairs with an app on your smartphone or tablet to play the songs. The headband is up for pre-order for $299 and will be available at the end of 2015.

Our friends from Zensorium released a new device. “Being”, is a device that monitors your mood using a continuous heart rate monitor. It can tell if you’re angry or jumping of joy by analyzing variations in heart rate, categorizing your moods into four zones: distressed, excited, normal and calm. The wristband can also differentiate between different states of stress (like getting that email at 5pm on a Friday or hearing your mother telling you something that you don’t like… ) and suggest breathing exercises. Being tracks your daily activity and can monitor your sleep. During a workout, you get continuous heart rate readings, and during the day, Being measures your heart rate continuously. Zensorium promises a three day battery life.

It seems that managing your stress level is a big topic for 2015. Company Neurometrix unveiled Quell, another device that helps you cope with Chronic Pain, it applies small electrical current to the surface of your skin, the electrical leads make contact with your calf and course to your lower brain, which in turn releases the body’s natural opiates to aid in pain relief. The Quell sensor promises 40 hours of pain relief on a single charge, and is designed to be worn 24-7. It even reduces to 80 percent intensity during the middle of the night to ensure a good night’s sleep. Quell also includes an accelerometer that provides sleep data through an iOS app. It will be available in Spring. A similar product comes from our friends from Thimble that presented their technology already a few years ago at our conference in SF.

But, not everything is going to be pain and stress: AmpStrip is a small, thin, sensor-filled strip you wear on your torso every day. It continuously monitors your heart to provide feedback about your athletic performance and recovery – to help you finding the edge between too little and too much training and also gathers a stack of other data including steps taken, calories burned, and skin temperature. Knowing where your body is in the stress-recovery cycle of training (I know, I said there was no stress involved anymore!) will help you make better decisions about the type and intensity of each day’s workout. The AmpStrip is a sticker than can go for up to a week on a single charge.

Pacif-i Smart Pacifier from company BlueMaestro is a smart pacifier that monitors a baby’s temperature and transmits the data to an app on a parent’s iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. With a temperature sensor built into the pacifier’s silicon teat, Pacif-i transmits temperature data to the app that determines when the temperature is the most accurate and then time-stamps and plots the temperature data in a graph. Via the app, parents can record when medication was administered, set-up alerts/ reminders and share the data with medical professionals. Pacif-i also features an in-built proximity sensor that allows parents to monitor the pacifier’s location and so be alerted when their child wanders off. Pacif-i has a battery life of more than a year.

Leaving CES with a 360° turn we arrive at company RideOn with their augmented reality (AR) goggles for skiing and snowboarding, a see-­through display that projects AR layers and features on the snow as if they’re floating 15 feet in front of you. RideOn Goggles allow you to interact with the floating UI using only your sight. To use, simply look at icons fixed to the sky, your friends, or points of interest. This way, your hands stay gloved and warm, and your cellphones and maps stay securely in your pockets (actually you won’t ever need a map). They are still seeking for funding on Indiegogo to bring to the world the smart pair of goggles. The first company that thrives to challenge the so far only product of this kind from former Innovation World Cup winner Recon Instruments.

Now that we are talking about AR, one of the news in this field came from Microsoft, the company recently unveiled a new headset. The HoloLens displays images that appear much like holographic projections, and provides surround sound as well. The brains of the headset include a CPU, GPU, and a so-called “holographic processing unit.” The system can track eye movements, listen to voice commands, and can follow hand gestures much like a Microsoft Kinect. The difference between the virtual reality headsets and augmented ones (in case you are wondering) is that the virtual reality envelop a person’s field of vision, blocking his or her view of the real world and the augmented superimpose images onto the real world to create a mixed reality.

AR? VR? Which one is better? Why choose when you can have of both! SulonTechnologies might have thought the same before they created “The Cortex” spatially aware, wearable head mounted computing platform that enables experiences through virtual and augmented technologies. It contains 3D sensors and scanners that detect and integrate the user’s physical surroundings into its world. Users can move freely through both worlds and control what it is around using motion and gesture controls.

And what’s new inside the smartwatch world? HTC is planning to announce its long awaited smartwatch during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (March). It will reportedly come with Under Armour’s new fitness software baked-in. The two companies announced a new partnership earlier this month. We and we are already excited to see the results! Traditional watch maker Montblanc, also decided to join the smartwatch race with an e-Strap: the interchangeable strap has an integrated technology device that offers an activity tracker, smart notifications, remote controls and Find-Me functions. It connects, via Bluetooth Low Energy, to selected Android and iOS smartphones. Smart notifications, signaled by vibrations provide an alert of incoming communication. It enables the preview of e-mails by topic and sender, read text messages, see incoming calls and status updates of social media feeds or reminders of important upcoming meetings. The activity tracker is a simple tool to monitor the wearer’s physical activity over time and keep track of his personal daily goals. It measures the number of steps, calories burnt and the distance travelled. The e-Strap will remind the wearer to stay active through unobtrusive vibration alerts and show the daily progress at a glance.

Next one to jump on the topic is Alcatel with “Watch”, a device with a round face (which reminds us at another Smartwatch). In the band Alcatel did squirrel away a USB charging point in the tip of the band so you can just plug into a computer if you need a charge. The watch can last around two to five days, depending on the usage. It can provide notifications, heart rate, steps and sleep monitoring. The final brand to join the smartwatch club is TAG Heuer. Their watch will feature GPS and health monitoring features, plus a selection of apps which are specifically related to TAG Heuer’s brand, and the sports it sponsors. TAG Heuer will start to reveal the partnerships it has made to produce its first smartwatch with in the next six weeks. Right around the time we’re expecting the Apple Watch to go on sale…

So breath, relax and enjoy!