Who doesn’t love wearing a cheesy Christmas jumper? And who doesn’t love giving to a worthy cause, particularly when the UK Government will match every donation? Well, what if you found out you could combine the two? I know, pretty awesome right?
Friday the 12th of December is Christmas Jumper Day, a day to spread joy and help improve the lives of children around the world with Save the Children. It’s pretty simple; wear your best (or ugliest) Christmas jumper and donate £2, or more if you can, to Save the Children. Make the world better with a sweater. Details on how to donate can be found here.
At Nitro we’re all getting in on the act, busting out our most festive woollies, digging deep and hoping to smash our total raised last year.
So, in keeping with the clothing theme, we’ve decided to take a look at clothing wearables. These can range from clever and cool to downright ridiculous, and here’s our top 6:
From French company Cityzen Sciences comes the ‘D-Shirt’, or Digital Shirt, specially designed to complement your workout. Made from lightweight, sensor-laced (and washable!) fabric, the shirt monitors your heart rate, speed, activity intensity, acceleration and altitude, and has built-in GPS. The shirt connects via Bluetooth to an app, tracking your activity and offering personalised coaching. You can ask the app questions, which responds, telling you how you’re doing and where you could improve. It maps your route and workout as you go, so you can share your activities with others, see how far you went and track your progress over time. You can also set running challenges.
Basically, it’s a must for any fitness fanatic. However, the product is currently in prototype phase and not yet available to buy, and you can bet it won’t be cheap. Nevertheless, the company are touting it as a ‘sports revolution’. We’ve yet to find out.
Wi-Fi hotspot Onesie
Yes, you read that right. Dutch textile developer Borre Akkersdijk has created a knitted onesie that turns the wearer into a walking Wi-Fi hotspot. It’s called the BB.Suit, and was developed with help from the Eindhoven University of Technology. Unveiled at SXSW this year, the onesie also demonstrated its other handy festival capabilities; attendees could track it on Google Maps (anyone who’s been to festival knows you spend half your time fruitlessly searching for friends), and upload songs through it – creating a wandering human jukebox.
The suit is knitted in two layers using a special 3D technique, leaving space in between for a middle layer of copper wiring, which can house Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC (near field communication) connections.
This is also in the prototype phases, and although the onesie at the moment can survive a few washes, Akkersdijk admits there is an issue with wearables and laundry that he hopes to fix.
Although this may seem slightly ridiculous and there’s certainly a long way to go, Akkersdijk’s company, ByBorre, may be on the right track. They are dedicated to developing smart clothing, and the BB.Suit does demonstrate well what can be achieved when designers and computer scientists work together.
Not quite a Christmas hat, but crammed with so many goodies its close enough. The Snaptrax hat looks like an ordinary snapback (hence the name) but there’s a lot more than meets the eye. You wouldn’t know it from the sleek design, but the hat is voice controlled, has integrated speakers and connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing the user to make and answer calls and texts, control and play music, search the web, navigate via GPS and much more. They’re kind of the non-nerdy version of Google Glass, and are set to have a much lower price tag.
The hat comes from Australian startup Headtrax Technology, who claim, “Wearing a Snaptrax baseball cap will offer the additional benefits of convenient, interruption-free mobility to access and use smart devices easily, more safely and with the added bonus of UV protection!”
They say they are solving the problem of our increasing dependence on smartphones that “are becoming more and more difficult to use on the go safely and effectively.”
The technology supports 22 languages and the Bluetooth device is actually removable, so you can fit it to your Christmas hat if you feel so inclined. The caps are weather-proofed, include radiation-reducing technology and come in four design variations of black and red.
There’s a countdown on their website until the official purchasing website is unveiled – it’s due to be launched New Year’s day 2015.
Moving from the hip to the life-saving, this shirt and cap combo from France-based Bioserenity is an epileptic seizure detector that instantly alerts a doctor when an attack occurs. Epilepsy is notoriously difficult to diagnose and manage, and this wearable strives to bring back some of the control the condition takes away.
Diagnosis of epilepsy traditionally has to take place over a 48 hour period in hospital while the patient is hooked up to an EEG (electroencephalograph) machine. Seizures are irregular, yet epilepsy cannot be diagnosed unless a patient has one whilst being monitored. Because of this, a large number of sufferers don’t receive adequate treatment. WEMU could change this.
WEMU is a lightweight shirt that can be worn underneath another layer and uses biometric sensors to track heart activity and muscle contraction. It also comes with a hat to wear whilst sleeping or in the privacy of your own home which monitors brain activity. The monitored data is sent via Bluetooth to the patient’s smartphone and uploaded to a cloud system, so healthcare professionals can access the information. An alert is sent out when a seizure takes place, and a doctor can immediately call emergency services or contact the patient’s friends and family to give advice on how to help. The connected app also helps track diet and medication intake, to remind patients to take their pills or flag up a particular food that may be triggering attacks.
WEMU looks incredibly promising, both in terms of changing the lives of those who suffer from epilepsy for the better, and in terms of medical research. The stats the app collects will provide big data to help further research on the condition.
Another wearable with great healthcare potential is the iTBra. The bra comes from Cyrcadia Health, a US-based company, and although it’s not the most flattering item, you can’t really quibble on aesthetics when it might save your life.
After five years of development, over 500 patients have been successfully tested using the iTBra, the technology has an 87% match with verified clinical diagnoses of breast cancer and is designed to flag up any abnormalities early on and provide peace of mind to the wearer. It’s equipped with sensors embedded in the cups that pick up temperature changes in breast tissue – temperatures rise when cancers are forming. It is also able to detect signs of cancer in dense tissue, something mammograms currently struggle with.
The technology, similar to the WEMU, delivers results to your healthcare provider through a smartphone enabled interface, meaning both the user and their healthcare provider can be fully informed of the patient’s breast health. As well as that, the screening method is far more comfortable as it doesn’t involve any compression or X-rays. As we all know with cancer, early diagnosis is crucial, and this wearable looks set to really revolutionise the process.
The company are aiming for international product release by mid-2015.
And here’s the ridiculous I was talking about.
How often do you find yourself trembling, tears streaming down your face, surrounded by the hell that is your unsorted socks? Yeah, strangely enough I never have either. However, for the customers of gentlemen’s sock company Blacksocks this must be a chronic and hideous problem – because they’ve come up with a digital solution.
Enter Smarter Socks, “probably the smartest socks in the world.” For the low, low (insane) price of $189, you can forget about your sock sorting troubles (and food for the rest of the month). This *reasonable* price gets you 10 pairs of socks and a Sock Sorter. Honestly, I’d rather drop £3 at Primark and risk a mental breakdown, but whatever. Each sock, or ‘Plus+’ sock, has an inbuilt RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip, which connects to the Sock Sorter, which in turn connects to your smartphone through the Blacksocks app. Each sock will then forever be paired with only one other sock, and the app will keep track of how many washes your socks experience, and how many they have left before they start to look un-gentlemanly. It’s important stuff, guys.
The app also includes the originally named ‘blackometer,’ which uses your smartphone’s camera to scan your socks and measure how black they are. Seriously.
So if you’re the type of person that feels they need this utterly pointless technology, good on you – check out the ad / proof this is an actual thing, here. If you’re not this type of person, which is perhaps more likely, check out the ad anyway, if for nothing else to enjoy the faintly sexist humour: “Some cynical woman may claim this is the only way a man could sort his own socks.”
. . . and here comes the breakdown.
A cringey end note. . .
Or of course you could combine awful wearables and a vague Christmas spirit with this disaster from this years series of The Apprentice.