PDD’s Graham Lacy attended the Digital Health and Wearable Technology Shows at Excel.
This twinned exhibition showcases recent innovations in connected devices for the healthcare and wellness industry as well as wearable technologies from other categories.
Many of the new devices were simple bio-sensors taken from previous ‘wearable technology’ form factors of limb bands (wrists on 2-legged mammals and necks on 4-legged) providing real-time monitoring of health, wellness and whereabouts.
Devices were either at the sensing or giving end of communication and these shared a common aim to minimise physiological burden. Amongst the sensors were other ‘jewellery’ formats such as rings and pendants as well as textile and in-clothing forms.
At the other extreme, RIVR in co-operation with the Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, showed how much physical technology can be worn with purposeful effect. Donning a powerful, graphics-accelerated laptop in backpack form, a VR headset and holding a teleporter hand control, they demonstrated a training aid for the forensic examination of fires. In another training exercise, and wearing a first responder respirator (coincidentally designed by PDD), breathing apparatus and protective clothing, fire crews were given an even greater level of simulation of the real-world wearables.
ZSK brought dynamism to the show with its machines and smart textile threads to embroider working and illuminated piano keyboards on T shirts.
There were several heads-up display companies and technologies with a variety of binocular and monocular glasses and goggles which are getting smaller and visually and socially more acceptable. Such devices grapple with the additional ergonomic and dynamic challenges of being head-worn and furthermore compete with the larger smartphone screens we are now accustomed to. The conflict of vision and attention these products create is even more pronounced when head-worn and yet the advantages makes them especially suited to AR and time-devoted activity.
There were fewer devices making full use of our other cognitive senses to achieve the most effective communication with minimum burden. Many of the devices measured a single parameter albeit with several similar applications.
Apple and Google were not at the show but there were few other universal technology platforms that would make ‘wearables’ pervasive and multi-application as we have seen in the more mature personal computing and smart phones categories.
The digital health angle is an emerging picture; there were many good examples of connected devices and specific condition and healthcare management applications. Similarly we have yet to see universal solutions or set of standards to cover multiple applications and support data exchange and interoperability. This field has to grapple with the additional complexities of data protection, consent, anonymization and the ownership of the data and analytics which present additional legislative and ethical challenges.
Graham Lacy and PDD have worked on ‘wearable technology’ and ‘digital health’ for over 20 years; helping Vocollect to pioneer voice-enabled, body-worn computing for logistics, industrial and health application, designing many rugged audio and visual devices, connected devices and bringing innovative body-worn technology to the market for life-supporting health, wellness, entertainment, safety and critical emergency rescue applications for many global companies.
Posted by Graham
English (technical for the non-technical).
The last thing that inspired me: Ben Ainslie’s achievements and even greater aspirations.
My dream project: Sleep!
My obsession: Talking-the-walk, then working-the-torque.
Image credit © PDD Group Ltd.