In his annual “State of the World” conversation with Jon Lebkowsky, Bruce Sterling said: “When wearables arrive, I hope they’re Italian. If you’ve gotta wear the damn things all the time, they ought to at least look elegant.”
With that in mind at the Smart Fabrics Conference in San Francisco last week (April 2014), I caught up with Davide Vigano, CEO of Heapsylon to talk about their new Sensoria line of activity sensors. Sensoria’s knitted components (like Davide and his two co-founders) are Italian, leveraging a long-standing tradition of fashion knitwear. Although fitness trackers are becoming more and more a part of everyday life, Sensoria has combined some interesting features to offer something quite unique.
Davide sees the Sensoria line as the next step towards an “ultra-personal computer” using an ecosystem of biometric sensors. At the conference, they showcased their sports bra and t-shirt, incorporating embedded textile sensor technology, but what Davide seemed the most excited about was their new smart sock.
Using a custom sensor connected magnetically to an electronic anklet, the sock gathers data about your foot’s position and pressure and combines this data to calculate a variety of information, like balance, heel-strike, cadence (strides per minute), etc.
Don’t think socks belong at the cutting edge? When the data from the sock is combined with additional readings from the sports bra or heart-rate monitoring t-shirt and crunched on your mobile phone, feedback can be more accurate and new inferences can be made about the wearer’s activity and condition.
For example, a running specific app focusing on gait analysis is slated for release this week. It allows your phone to calculate your cadence (stride rate) and select a music track to match. But the real power in what Heapsylon is doing lies in their vision to provide their products, app and developer kit as ingredients to other brands. That way the technology can be re-worked by experts in fields ranging from salsa dancing to diabetes care with the focus on anything from fall-detection to sensory augmentation.
For me this is particularly interesting, given that one of the criticisms of the Internet of Things has been that although the Things all speak to the Internet, for the most part they are not connected to each other. Sensoria’s family of devices is an elegant way to address this problem.