Wearable technology was highlighted at CES 2015 last week in Las Vegas, with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announcing the Curie module, a tiny hardware product based on the company’s first purpose-built system-on-chip (SoC) for wearable devices.
According to Gartner research director Annette Zimmermann, 30 percent of smart wearables will be completely unobtrusive to the eye by 2017.
“Already, there are some interesting developments at the prototype stage that could pave the way for consumer wearables to blend seamlessly into their surroundings. Smart contact lenses are one type in development,” said Zimmerman.
Image Credit: Intel
“Another interesting wearable that is emerging is smart jewelry. There are around a dozen crowdfunded projects competing right now in this area, with sensors built into jewelry for communication alerts and emergency alarms. Obtrusive wearables already on the market, like smart glasses, are likely to develop new designs that disguise their technological components completely.”
Patrick Gill, a Principal Research Scientist at Rambus, says he believes lensless smart sensor (LSS) technology could potentially play an important role in the evolution of wearable devices.
“LSS can be unobtrusively embedded into jewelry and other wearables. For example, LSS could power a stereo pair of change detectors designed to illuminate a broach when an object comes near,” said Gill.
“Another application? Embedding motion-sensitive LSSs on a patch affixed to the back of your head, which would make a device buzz or tingle when a certain kind of motion is detected.”
In addition, says Gill, small wearable devices may ultimately be designed to communicate with each other via a fast-blinking LED protocol such as Li-Fi.
“If the sensors need to be small and yet have some directionality to them, LSS integration would be a good choice – depending on specific use cases,” Gill confirmed.
Last, but certainly not least, LSS could be used to power versatile sensor clusters in both eye-tracking hardware and head-mounted displays (HMDs).
As we’ve previously discussed on Rambus Press, LSS is roughly analogous to the way a human, animal or insect brain perceives the world: the real-time interpretation of a scene or object facilitated by inherent pattern recognition capabilities. Simply put, data leaving a human retina looks nothing like a map of light intensity, although it contains all the information required to interpret an image.
Similarly, LSS allows sensors to capture information rich images using a low-cost phase grating. Although the raw ‘snap’ is indecipherable to the naked human eye, the sensor, which is approximately the size of pinhead, captures all of the information in the visual world up to a certain resolution.
Interested in learning more about LSS technology? You can read “From lensless sensors to artificial intelligence” here, check out “Why insects can help us build better ‘bots” here and peruse “What do robots and ‘copters have in common?” here.