This week there has been a lot of news about wearable technologies, and while on the surface it all looks really cool, we can’t help but wonder about where it is all leading … Are we on a path to the creation of actual cyborgs (you know, half human/half machine, like DC Comics’ “superhero for the modern age“)? Maybe we’re over-thinking this one …
Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of the big announcements in wearables that made headlines this week.
A California company called Thync is releasing what is described as a “mood-altering headset” that you can use to “find a state of calm or boost your energy with controls on your smartphone.” (Source.) So, according to a reporter from TechCrunch who got to try it out, the device is “small, plastic, and contains a Bluetooth radio for connecting to your phone. You attach it to a disposable adhesive strip, which you apply to your temple and neck.” Once you are strapped in, you use the app on your phone to choose between either a state of calm, or for an energy boost. You can dial the meter up or down, depending on the level of intensity required. The gizmo costs $299 (USD), and also requires that you purchase additional adhesive strips, which are re-usable but only for a limited number of times. You can see a demo of the head gear in action:
Then we have a device you stick in your ears. Doppler Labs has a new project on Kickstarter for their “Here Active Listening System” which is designed to “curate live audio experiences.” According to TechCrunch, “with controls built into the app, users can actually isolate specific noises (like a baby crying or the screech of a subway train) and drastically reduce the volume on that specific noise. In other words, hear what you want, ignore what you don’t.” As they note on the funding page, using these in-ear buds, will “enhance your senses and personalize every listening experience.” We actually think we could use these at the office. And, as it happens, the project has already met its goal on Kickstarter, and still has nearly a month left to raise additional funds.
And while this next one isn’t available yet, it certainly sounds promising for medical uses. According to Wearables.com, two scientists at Stanford’s Start X incubator Echo Labs “spent the last two years creating a non-invasive wearable prototype that uses optical signals to ‘measure oxygen, CO2, PH, hydration and blood pressure levels in the blood,’ scanning and monitoring blood composition. Meaning, essentially, it sees through skin. If you’re squeamish, it’s OK to say “Ew.” But, consider possible use cases for this device. As the article notes: “[There] is the possibility of monitoring glucose levels through a wearable, eradicating all need for needles and making the lives of diabetes patients far safer and easier.”
We’ll finish with two items that are less practical, but certainly have the fun factor locked down. Google announced last week that it has shipped more than one million of its Cardboard VR units. As you may recall, these simple units were announced only a year ago at the last Google I/O conference.
And finally, someone out there is working on DIY Wolverine “Claws” and all you need to do is “flex your arms, and the claws auto extend.” We all need a pair of these, right?
See, if you put it all together, our cyborg future isn’t really that far away after all. The question is, are we ready to make the transformation?
Cyborg image above from DC Comics.