Category: Tech and Smart Tech

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

Thursday, May 3, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

 

Another Spin on the tech wear table for Google – Project Jacquard

I’ve been recently digging through various reviews on tech wearables and the future of tech clothing, and I found one item in particular that had some interesting facts about it.

This item in particular would be the Jacquard jacket by Google and Levi’s.

The Jacquard jacket is a version of Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket which has Google’s technology woven into the fabric.  This technology mixed with denim apparel allows the wearer to interact with their smartphone via the jacket by performing different touch patterns on the cuff of the jacket.

While this idea as well as many of the pioneering projects of smart wearable technology have the premises of heading into the futuristic crusade of conquest in the smart wearable technology market, the advancement of this technology appears to be evolving extremely slowly as well as not having anything new to offer the tech focused individual.  In many cases there are other devices currently on the market that provide the same functionality for cheaper.

The jacket itself is of very good quality.  It is mostly a top of the line pedigree of the Levi Commuter Trucker Jacket with a conventional “blue collar dark wash”, all-American color and style.  The Commuter Jacket, as its name suggests, is made with bicycle-riding city dwellers in mind.  It’s a nice fit too with a lot of flexibility in the arms and shoulders.  Jacquard comes in men’s and women’s sizes.  However, just like all Levi’s jackets of the past, it fits tight and snugly when closed and tends to be worn best open.  This may pose a problem for cyclists who prefer more loose clothing when riding.  Above all, it really just feels like you’re wearing a very well made, high-end Levi’s jacket.

There is one caveat: the smart cuff. This is where Levi’s has cleverly woven in the conductive threads, but it forms a flat surface that’s more rigid than the rest of the sleeve, something you do notice when moving your arms around. It also sticks out a little, one of only two giveaways that there’s any technology here at all.

The other is the Bluetooth tag that clips into the cuff. This is what transmits the information from the cuff to to your phone, and vice versa, but is also its ugliest feature. This tag needs to be kept charged up, and should you wash the jacket you’ll need to take it off first.

All of Jacquard’s commands happen in the sleeve, specifically the left-hand cuff, which works as a touchpad to communicate with the phone. But to get that working you’ll need to pair Jacquard with your smartphone; it works with iOS and Android, and both get the exact same experience.

Once paired through the Jacquard app you can start assigning your interactions to three different gestures: brush in, brush out and a double tap. Right now this list of commands is quite limited and centered mostly around music and navigation.  You can also answer calls and get notifications via phone speaker or headphones.  There is no sound that comes from the actual jacket itself, only blinking light on the cuff tag which lets you know if you have any notifications or calls.  There’s also a counter for keeping track of, well, whatever the hell you like, and a voice to tell you the time.

Oh, and you can customise the light and haptics too, so the jacket will ping you when select contacts (up to three at a time…so that you can keep you can keep your focus on the road) are trying to get hold of you.

So, what’s the big deal?  That’s the BIG question.  Unfortunately, we are handed an Apollo in the age of the Orion with a failure to launch into new and unknown intergalactic frontiers.  Jacquard just doesn’t do enough yet.  Especially for the asking price of a hefty $350.  Although, nowadays, $350 might not seem too ludicrously expensive in the market of high-end denim jackets.  And as for the dedicated techie, if you can go out and buy Levi’s non-smart equivalent for $200 less, you can start weighing up the value of this added technology.  Otherwise, you can probably buy a really nice jacket and several other items, including other individual accessories that do exactly the same things that you can place ergonomically on your body and bike for cheaper.

So, you may now ask me what did I find interesting about this particular item?

Well, here are the two kickers that drew me in to writing about this particular item in the first place.

#1: The jacket can only be washed 10 times in its entire lifespan.

WOW, did that really just make me crumple up that paycheck and throw it in the trash of mostly useless junk…..or what?  That’s a very good thing to reveal to your potential buyers ahead of time, I may add!  That is definitely the stuff I need to know before I buy.

#2: Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh said he’d never washed his jeans, and believes that’s the best way of maintaining quality.

Really?!?  A CEO of a HUGE name brand in fashion who never washes his clothes?  That’s not only really disgusting, but also not a good way to promote your clothing.  It doesn’t make it excusable that you can only wash the jacket 10 times, so you might as well be a grimy, smelly, scummy person and make no effort to better your appearance.  GROSS!!!!!

Interesting stuff, eh?  Come back again for other interesting facts about smart tech, fashion, and the figures who surround it.

Smart Tech for Fitness

Smart Tech for Fitness

Saturday, April 28, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

 

Smart Tech for Fitness

Smart clothes are the next step beyond wearables.  Although smartphones and smartwatches are becoming increasingly handy in the technology of exercise training, there still remains certain aspects of the body that need to be measured with technology that works directly with the body or in combination with your smart device.

So far there are already items of smart clothing available including t-shirts that measure biometrics and bras that adapt to support in certain situations. But there’s even more continually arriving on the horizon.

Here are some of the best smart clothes so you know what’s available, what’s coming, what you can use with the smart devices you already have, and how clothes can enhance your health.

A heart rate monitor built into a sports bra could be the ultimate simplicity in the path from sports clothes to smart clothes. The result should be a comfortable top that offers support as well as an ability to share heart rate data with a connected device. Coupled with the app this will train the wearer in their own heart rate zones, that adapt to fitness, creating a perfect push while still offering encouragement through success.

The MyZone Sports Bra can share data with a Bluetooth connected smartphone, smartwatches and even gym screens, meaning it can be used pretty much anywhere. It’s made from quick drying fabric, comes in three sizes and a range of colours. It was initially available in red or black, but MyZone has now added pink, yellow and aqua colours to the mix too. All versions costs £50. The heart rate monitor can be unclipped for charging after about seven months of use, as well as for washing of the bra.

The Lumo name was first associated with wearables that help posture. Now that smart body tracking has been put into a small sensor that you clip to the back of your short or leggings, so that it’s aligned with your spine.

The Lumo Run sensor measures a whole host of running metrics, including cadence, bounce, braking, pelvic rotation and pelvic drop. You can use it with or without a smartphone to hand and in either case, will sync your running data to the companion app. It gives you feedback on your form, both visually via the app and audibly through connected headphones and can offer personalised exercises based on your data.

The Lumo Run is available for $100.

The LikeAGlove leggings intelligently measure a wearer’s shape so they can shop for the ideal sized clothes. Not only do the leggings find all the perfect measurements but they work, via Bluetooth, with the app to filter clothing options down to those that are available in the wearer’s size.

The idea is to make shopping for clothes easier by getting the correct size every time, something which isn’t always easy online when you can’t try items on in the shop first.

LikeAGlove leggings are available now for $80.

Athos is at the forefront of smart wearable clothing. The Athos shirt and shorts are tight fitting sensor filled garments capable of detecting heart rate, breathing rate and even muscle activity thanks to EMG sensors.

The Athos line features a small core which works with the sensors to deliver data via Bluetooth to your smartphone. This 20g gadget slips into a pocket on the top of shorts and lasts 10 hours on a charge. But it’s not just for sending information it also features a 6-axis accelerometer for measuring movement as you workout.

These types of clothing are going to be brilliant for muscle focused gym workouts where recording anything more than heart rate, which isn’t that helpful for weights, has previously been reserved for professional athletes.

Athos caters for both men and women and the entire range of clothing can be found on the Athos website. 

The Hexoskin smart shirt, made with Italian textiles, is able to track the wearer’s heart rate, breathing rate and volume, steps with cadence and calories and even sleep. It uses a small device that slips into a pouch on the shirt. It connects via Bluetooth to iOS and Android devices.

Hexoskin’s second generation now works with third party apps like Strava, RunKeeper and Endomondo. It’s also got an extended battery life that can last up to 30 hours.

The Hexoskin is available in short and long sleeved versions for men and women. The shirt with device and cable is available to buy now for $399 which is about £255.

The Bionic Bra is still in development at the University of Wollongong in Australia. But the end result will be a smart bra that can offer support when needed and loosen for comfort at other times.

The Bionic Bra is able to tighten and loosen automatically allowing it to offer more support or breath room to suit the wearer. The result should be consistent comfort with support during sport, like running. It sounds like the bra is either tight, offering support during sport, or loose when the wearer is out relaxing, meaning it can be worn constantly. We wonder how many girls actually leave their sweaty sports bras on after training though.

The technology is still in development so don’t expect to see this too soon.

Adidas, sponsoring the Team GB cyclists in 2012, came up with its heated trousers. These tailor made, battery powered trousers heat up in order to warm the legs of the athletes ahead of exercise.  Heated trouser, or “Hotpants” as they were dubbed, allowed muscles to reach an efficient 38 degress Celsius. This meant less time warming up so they could save their energy for the competition.

We doubt these particular trousers will make it onto the market for non-professional athletes anytime soon but something similar may arrive in smart clothes in the near future.

Crazy iPhone Madness in Solidworks

Crazy iPhone Madness in Solidworks

Saturday, February 24, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

Crazy iPhone Madness in Solidworks

Hey all!  So I’m back to talk about more of the many things that I have been up to lately.  One of these things was yet another enjoyable tutorial from the one and only Solidwork’s Mecca of learning….www.LearnSolidWorks.com.  Yes, once again I made my (what seems like weekly) pilgrimage to the great digital tomes of Solidworks knowledge to enlighten my inner Solidworks designer and to achieve a greater place of transcendental empowerment in Solidworks modeling design.  But the path to any kind of empowerment is not easy, and after many frantic nights of computer crashing, starting over from scratch, lots of mediation in the form of clicking on the power off icon on my computer and going to bed with a severely nasty headache, and yes…hair pulling; I finally arrived at a place of….well, maybe not great enlightenment, but I will say completion.  But, I did learn many wonderful, interesting things along the way.  Yes, Jan gave us yet another fulfilling tutorial in the form of designing one of those things we just cant live without these days (whether you like it or not)….the Apple iPhone.

This was definitely a fun little jaunt Solidworks modeling.  There was much to learn in customization of parts and appearances throughout the tutorials.  While designing iPhones was not too difficult of a project in itself; there were other minor areas such as creating the etching for the model stamping on the back of the iPhones, and more noticeably, creating the Apple logo for the iPhone 6 Plus model which was only provided with a sketch image of the logo.  Other areas of notability include changing the color of the etchings to display for rendering, adjusting the appearances and color of the screens, and adding and adjusting the screen decals to display properly and with enough luminosity to render properly.

The decals were probably the only real problem area of the tutorials.  I also found that the iPhone 3G model had several different appearances for the screen which included other appearances created before splitting the face of the front of the model to become the two seperate entities of the face and the touchscreen.  I had to do a bit of tweaking in order to get a good luminosity on the screen in order for it to render with enough ability to see the lightened touchscreen and its buttons.  The charger was relatively easy with a nice sweep involved in the creation of the cable.

This tutorial also came with some other useful information on rendering and the setup and arrangement of your assemblies for rendering processing.  These tutorials give us a little bit more information on rendering image size, lighting, gamma, camera creation and placement, and backgrounds and environments.  They are a great addition to have for any novice Solidworks designer just beginning to work with and understand the program.

Have fun and happy modeling!

Smart Textiles and Future Wear

Smart Textiles and Future Wear

Thursday, April 14, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Smart Textiles and Future Wear

When we think of clothing, we usually just think of it as something we wear to provide coverage, convey our sense of style and protect us from the environmental elements.  But, the future of clothing as we know it is about to change in a big way, and smart textiles and future wear are paving the way for this change.  So, what exactly are smart textiles?

Smart textiles are fabrics that have been developed with new technologies that provide added value to the wearer.  Smart textiles can be broken into two different categories: Aesthetic and Performance Enhancing.

Aesthetic examples include everything from fabrics that light up to fabrics that can change color.  Some of these fabrics gather energy from the environment by harnessing vibrations, sound, or heat, and reacting to this input.

Then there are performance enhancing smart textiles which will have a huge impact on the athletic, extreme sports, and military industries.  There are fabrics that help regulate body temperature, reduce wind resistance and control muscle vibration – all of which help improve athletic performance.

Other fabrics have been developed for protective clothing to guard against extreme environmental hazards like radiation and the effects of space travel.  The health and beauty industry is also taking advantage of these innovations, which range from drug-releasing medical textiles, to fabric with moisturizer, perfume, and anti-aging properties.

A Canadian lab has tested special fibers that can help make soft, flexible touch screens and batteries woven directly into the fabrics of modern life.  Turning rigid electronic parts into stretchy, smart clothing material has not proven easy.  But early ideas have already hinted at practical uses beyond just wearing glowing “Tron” jumpsuits as fashion accessories. People may swipe a finger across a car’s upholstery to turn down the heat or brush at their coat sleeves to adjust the volume of a connected music player.

The intention is to make the clothing comfortable, and seamlessly blend “hard” gadget functions with “soft” objects while concealing the components of the technology that drives the smart clothing.  New developments in fiber optics have allowed scientists to make new polymer-based smart fibers based on melting the preformed material to pull out a long, thin fiber shape.  Such fibers can conduct electric signals.

The technology of smart clothing may seem imminent, but psychological barriers remain because textile manufacturers are hesitant to work with completely new fibers.  Other challenges also still remain in the creation and development of smart clothing such as: creating the soft textile version of the transistors at the heart of all modern devices.

So the competition is on for the breakthrough design in smart textiles and clothing, and for company’s of the future to create and market extraordinary pieces of smart clothing that act like gadgets but easily fit in with ordinary wardrobes.

Robotic Cosmetics Design

Robotic Cosmetics Design

Saturday, April 2, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Robotic Cosmetics Design

In the accessorizing of the semi-cosplay group of dark electronic, science fiction lovers that I affiliate with, a common theme is robot or cybernetic add-ons such as robotic appendages and electronic, lighted body features in robotic cosmetics design.  There are specialty websites that are geared towards the hobbyist that have sections of DIY or do-it-yourself wearable components that you can use to aid in the design of your own custom attire.

Researchers are continuing to develop robotic like designs to aid disabled people and the elderly in rehabilitation and assisting functionalities.  A recently devised hand exoskeleton called the Assisted Finger Orthosis, is a hand exoskeleton can be customized for an individual using 48 parameters. The battery-powered device uses small linear motors that can be programmed to move the finger as part of a rehab process.  Parameters can be set for finger movement, the range of motion and the frequency.  Each finger on the exoskeleton has eight rigid parts and pins that can be made using a 3D printer.

Someone interested in these type of accessories can either pay for the individual parts through the developer’s means of selling the parts, or they can also decide to design and make it themselves.  This could be done using computer aided drafting and design programs such as AutoCAD and transferring your design to a 3D printer or CNC machine for your own custom made parts.  Many cosplayer and semi-cosplayer designs are now being made this way.

In order to get an individual effect that is unique to your cosplay make-over, then one must have unique designs to add to their attire.  This takes a matter of instruction and learning about a range of technology and other topics including electronics, drafting, design, CAD, CAM, CNC manufacturing, 3D printing, fashion, sewing and materials which would be best suited for your accessories.  If this is something you are interested in, or are considering doing, then you will need to learn these things as well as keeping up on the latest developments as well as the practices and processes of designing your own custom cosplay, or semi-cosplay design.  Take a look at the above video regarding an Iron Man robotic hand an arm accessory and lights that some innovative designer created to give you some inspiration.