Cancel Out Those Tremors

This is a wonderful new product available from Lift Labs.

It is a spoon for people that suffer from hand tremors, like those from Parkinson’s Disease.

With tremors, a person has trouble lifting the spoon to their mouth and doing it without spilling.

With Lifeware, the tremors are said to be reduced in trials by 70%!

The spoon is battery operated and it has sensors for the tremors and performs countermeasures to stabilize itself.

It does this with technology including an accelerometer and microprocessor to actively cancel out the tremor.

In the future, additional attachments are forecasted, including a folk, keyholder, and more.

The special device was made possible through a grant under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research Program.

An awesome advance for Parkinson’s patients to be more self-sufficient and live with dignity despite such a debilitating illness.

Thank you to the engineers at Life Labs (and to the NIH) for bringing this stabilization technology to those who really can benefit from it.

Sign Language That Really Talks

There are over 40 million deaf or hearing disabled people in the world.

Many of these people suffer from not being understood by others and feel isolated. 

Four Ukranian graduate students have created the answer for them called Enable Talk–these gloves translate sign langauge into sound. 

The gloves have sensors including compass, gyroscope, and accelerometer that captures the wearer’s sign language. This is then transmitted via Bluetooth to an smartphone app that matches the sign pattens to those stored (and which can also be programmed/customized) and translates it into words and sounds. 

Enable Talk gloves won the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2012 student technology competition, and was named as one of Time Magazine’s Top 25 Best Innovations of 2012. 

For $175 these gloves are an amazing value for the hearing impaired who just wants to be communicate and be understood by others. 

This is a great advance for the disabled, and I’d like to see the next iteration where the gloves have the translation and voice mechanism and speakers built in, so the smartphone and app isn’t even needed any longer–then the communication is all in the gloves–simple, clean, and convenient! 😉

Realizing Bubble Boy

Bubble_boy

Cool innovation out of Sweden, as an alternative to regular bike helmets, there is now the Hovding.

An “invisible” nylon air bag helmet that is worn stylishly around the neck and inflates only when the it detects a pending accident.

The wearable device has a rechargeable accelerometer and gyroscope for sensing accidents, and it can inflate with helium in just a tenth of a second.

It also has a “black box” that records that last 10 seconds of the accident, so that investigators can analyze what happened.

The helmet shell for around the neck comes in a variety of styles and colors, and it costs between $450 and $600 dollars, but  is not usable after a single inflatable event.

While many people don’t want to wear crash helmets because they are either unattractive or uncomfortable, this new inflatable helmet provides style and comfort, and most importantly head protection.

The developers see other potential uses for skiing, horseback riding, epileptics, and the elderly.

I wonder about future applications for even more extreme sports and activities like motocycle riding, sky diving, and even race-car driving–people could do the things they enjoy, more naturally, without the clunky helmet, but still have the protection they need.

Also, I believe that the inflatable helmet has potential to be expanded into a more complete body guard package–like an invisible protective shield ready and waiting to be deployed all around a person in case of an accident, attack, or other disaster scenario.

Like the idea of Bubble Boy, who lives in a sterilized dome to protect him because of a compromised immune system, people of all types may one day be able to have a protective bubble that keeps them out of harm’s way.

Technology, such as the smartphone, is moving from mobile to wearable, and high-tech helmets too have the potential for a big lift–stay tuned for yours. 😉

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Geoffery Kehrig)

Better A Rock Than A Pebble

Pebble is coming out with a Smartwatch that connects via wireless Bluetooth to either iPhone or Android devices.

It can be used for getting messages, including from Twitter and Facebook, as well as for caller id, music controls, GPS, and more.

And you can download more apps from the watch app store.

Pebble uses a high resolution ePaper display technology, has a vibrating motor, microprocessor, accelerometer, and the battery can run for up to 7 days.

It has been crowdfunded through Kickstarter website and has since April sold, pre-order, approximately 85,000 watches at a $115 pop.

While I like the idea of being able to get information in more convenient form factors whether as a watch, glasses (like Google is working on) or other device configuration, I think the Pebble has a way to go in terms of it’s particular design.

Honestly. the Pebble looks cheap and chincy to me. The device looks too plasticy. The colors seem more geared towards kids.

Additionally, the screen looks way too small to be very useful except for the most basic alerts, but maybe this is all to make lighter and more mobile.

I plan to wait for something a little more substantial and with a larger screen.

A ruggedized version would be especially appealing including water, shock, and dust resistant and so on.

Perhaps the crowdfunding model has worked for this smartwatch for people looking to get the latest technology or even make a fast buck, but I think a little more crowdsourcing, in terms of customer requirements and feedback, would make an even better product for all.