When the BBC pushes out ominous articles entitled ‘Has wearable tech had its day?’, no one would blame you for questioning the future of fitness trackers and heart rate monitors. Coupled with the modest size of this year’s Wearable Tech Show (co-located with the IOT Connect, Augmented Reality, Digital Health and Smart Home Shows), it seems shaky at best.
But between the unassuming walls of the Excel Centre this week, you’d have discovered some incredible businesses looking to make their way on to the global stage. Here’s our pick of the top seven innovators from the collective exhibit.
1. Hideez (UA)
With cyber hacking rife, the importance of protecting your digital assets has never been more apparent. Yet most people can’t remember more than two or three individual passwords, making us vulnerable to attacks. Enter the Hideez Key, a simple tile or pendant (depending on your preference) that can store hundreds of logins. It can also act as a smart way to unlock your devices when you’re near, or doors. And what happens if someone steals the key? Not to worry – the password vault is unlocked with a retina scan, so that won’t be cracked in a hurry.
2. BrightSign (UK)
Founded by Goldsmith’s Computing researcher, Hadeel Ayoub, BrightSign is an assistive technology data glove startup designed to enable the speech-disabled to communicate with others. The gloves translate sign language to text and speech in real time, wirelessly and offline. Users can also train the gloves to recognise their own customised versions of sign language.
3. Nimb (US)
Jewellery doubling up as an alarm system has been gaining traction for a couple of years now, particularly with the likes of WiseWear. But speaking to the team at Nimb, I was suddenly struck by one very important issue – pendants and bracelets are useful if you’re feeling threatened, but what if you can’t reach them? What if your hands are caught? The Nimb Ring is an elegant solution, incorporating a panic button in its design to send an alert to friends, family and first response teams in case of an emergency.
4. Hushme (UA)
This might be the strangest-looking device on the list, but it wouldn’t shock me if all call centres and open-plan offices were stocked with Hushmes in the future. The ‘personal acoustic device’ is worn around the mouth and muffles speech from the outside world so you can have conversations in private, while maintaining sound quality within the call. For an added bonus, you can enable voice-masking mode for sensitive discussions, which projects sounds to the outside world including monkeys, minions and Darth Vader…
5. Navdy (US)
Dare I say it, I think this might be one of the best applications of augmented reality I’ve seen to date. Navdy is the world’s first ‘Augmented Driving’ device that projects information such as maps, calls, messages, notifications, music and car information directly in front of you so that drivers can keep their eyes on the road. The small screen is designed to sit on a car’s dashboard, and is coupled with a steering wheel-mounted dial for any scrolling required.
6. Medical Realities (UK)
Part of the Amplified Robot group, Medical Realities specialises in medical training products using virtual and augmented reality to create simulations and effective teaching materials. Their flagship ‘Virtual Surgeon’ programme combines 360 video, 3D and interactive content to put users inside the operating theatre overseeing a procedure through the eyes of a consultant surgeon. Not only will this prove a useful and cost-effective tool for medical students here in the UK, the firm also has the potential to revolutionise training in developing countries, delivering programmes for a fraction of the current cost.
7. SwapBots (UK)
Likely a last minute addition to the exhibit (they weren’t in the show guide), this Liverpudlian initiative is sure to charm more than a few children. SwapBots are a set of collectible, customisable toys that use augmented building blocks to bring characters to life. The head, body and legs of each bot are interchangeable, and by swapping pieces, the player can unlock new features. At £15 for a set of three, and a team dedicated to making the technology compatible with as many operating systems as possible, it’s augmented fun at its most accessible. The team are currently crowdfunding if you want to get a piece of the action.
Discover how our Technology & Innovation team can help: