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Wearable ring for gesture control By Jean-Pierre Joosting in the spirit of Lord of the Rings, could a ring, in this case a clever piece of technology, become a powerful tool for controlling everything? Ring from Logbar Inc., CA is a wearable input device that lets the user perform a multitude of tasks such as gesture control of smart appliances and devices, send texts, pay bills and so on. The company is currently running a kickstarter campaign to get the device mass produced, with shipping expected to start in 2014. Ring uses a Bluetooth Low Energy signal to connect to smart devices. Basically Ring detects the movement of the finger that is inside and identifies the gesture being made. Gestures can be performed anytime and anywhere. A lot of the companies IP is in the development of this gesture recognition technology with a particular focus on the accuracy of recognition and power consumption. The device provides four functions: a gesture control function to control home appliances and apps; texting where gesturing of letters in the air enables the user to write a text; payment information transmission to settle payment of bills with a single gesture; and a receive/alert function to detect incoming transmissions/ alerts through built-in vibration and LED. Each application has its own unique gesture mark and is activated when the user performs the designated action. Gestures can also be edited and customised via a smartphone or tablet. Ring uses precise letter recognition software called Ring Font that enables users to type letters anywhere, anytime. This enables the use of Twitter, Facebook, or other social network features, sending of texts, and even changing the station on the TV, by performing a simple gesture. To control appliances and devices Ring connects via Bluetooth directly or via Hub pairing. Hub is basically a routing device that enables the sending and receiving of Infrared or WiFI signals to connect Ring to devices that do not support Bluetooth. Ring supports payments using IBeacon or GPS to enable fast payments at participating retails stores, restaurants and even between individuals. It supports direct number payment that only requires tracing a number with a finger or checkmark payment that allows quick payments by gesturing a checkmark. Currently, Ring has been tested with the iPhone, iPad, Andorid, PCs and wearable devices such as Google Glass and smart watches, home control devices, web services including Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, amongst others. A snappy approach to low-cost wearable displays By Julien Happich uk startup SnapWatch has unveiled its first prototype of a wrist-band display, effectively the combination of a steel snapband with a flexible electronic display. Marketed as the Snap- Watch to surf on the overhyped smartwatch wave, the wristband comes with a bistable electrochromic display developed by Swedish supplier Acreo. On its website, the company mentions prototypes that incorporate watch, music replay and message display. From the mechanics disclosed, it looks like the display would be controled through two push-buttons situated at one extremity of the steel snapband together with the encapsulated electronics. ¬ No mentions are made about connectivity or interactivity with any other device, but the novelty worth patenting according to SnapWatch‘s CEO Vincent Douglas is this fairly low-cost combination of a bistable and flexible display with a bistable steel snap band (and their integration with a control unit into a wrist-band form factor). The company has secured its intellectual property with several patents granted in the UK, the USA, China and Europe and is looking for partners with application ideas to either license it or to purchase the IP altogether. I personally don’t see such a device compete head-to-head with current smartwatch offerings that typically feature fairly good resolution full-colour touch-screens and often Bluetooth Smart connectivity. But combined with NFC capability, this approach to wearable flexible displays could certainly find interesting applications as a very low-cost and very low power smart wrist-band akin to ticketing, offering ID, timing and schedule features for festivals and events of all sorts. It may even find its way as a fancy watch, or into some fitness or medical applications (add some combo MEMS sensors to it). As a watch, its flexible display and snappy feature would certainly compete well with similar fashion offerings such as the colourful silicone-wrapped Slap Watch, featuring interchangeable clock faces mounted on a spring coil bracelet. SnapWatch’s CEO, Vincent Douglas adds the wrist-band display could be used as a secondary status display, for example in the medical sector. Because the electrochromic display doesn’t have a very long lifetime, Douglas gave us his vision of a very low cost replacement display band, something that could plug into the control unit that the end-user would keep. This could be a particularly low cost item if both the display and the drivers can be printed, something that the company is exploring with a possible partnership with Cambridge-based firm Plastic Logic. Fig. 1: Bistable, mechanically and display-wise. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe April 2014 41


EETE APR 2014
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