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SRO on Innovations of Wearables and Sensors

The coming changes are going to make wearable devices even better because this as an evolutionary change, not a fad.

by jbsystech staffer

A dynamic speaker is how I recall stand-out presentations at a technical conference. Energetic technique zinging material off the screen. While attending an embedded computing event recently, I was captivated by a more laid-back speaker (along with a room full of engineers at standing room only, I might add). The speaker clearly knew his stuff and I learned much more than expected in the session. Bravo for both of us, I think.

The company – Voler Systems (www.volersystems.com) – looks to be a high quality team of experts. Located in the Bay area, Voler formed just before the new millennium and is ensconced in evolving technologies. They apply their talents in a variety of market segments doing product design and system integration, medical device design, instrumentation design, and data acquisition systems. As for the session I obviously enjoyed, it was about “Innovation Trends for Sensors and Wearable Devices” by Walt Maclay.

AntiGravity Treadmill_Voler_credit AlterG
Walt pointed out that the real trend is the augmentation of existing wearables. With wearable devices, many people say “this is just a fad,” and ask, “does anybody really use this for long?” Walt (and Voler) maintain that the electronic augmentation of what were traditionally mechanical or optical devices is not only here to stay, but will continue to grow rapidly. He goes on to say, “the coming changes are going to make wearable devices even better, interconnecting them and interconnecting the data, making them smarter.  I look at this as an evolutionary change, not a fad.  As one wearable device company put it, “we don’t worry about whether this a fad or not because we are too busy selling products.”

Offering examples of wearable devices that incorporate sensor applications, here’s one that stood out (based on the lively audience interaction). It is a golf tracker that uses GPS to know the location of the golfer and accelerometers to know what they are doing (my golf pro would be so happy). The device scans the head of the golf club to determine which club is being used. The tracker knows when you’ve swung, which club you used, distance of each ball hit, where it landed, shows it on a map of the course, and finally, where you have been on the course. Using cloud computing, it puts all that information together for a complete record of the game.  For serious golfers or those who bet big money each round, now we’ll get a whole new world of (golf) data available (I can envision a lower handicap soon).

Getting into sensor innovations … our car(s) are full of them, and certainly our phones as well. Walt pointed out three main reasons for the enormous growth in the use of sensors. They continue to shrink in size, are less expensive, and use less and less power. Sensors keep changing our world adding ‘smarts’. I learned newer phones have gyroscopes and magnetometers – huh!

He placed emphasis in both home health and the wearable devices market segments, noting the Internet of Things is made possible because of improvements in sensors.

In a final shout out, Walt spoke of a fine line on what constitutes an actual medical device (in which physicians use ‘it’ in healthcare decisions, diagnosis or any other medical determination) vying for FDA approval vs. a healthcare product whose owners (company) choose instead to employ Marketing 101. Meaning to simply not market the device as anything more than just one that provides information as an ‘FYI’. And there you have it – it’s all about the spin. If you’re interested, check out Voler. You may just want to leverage their collective talents.

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