Fitbit’s smartwatch on track; Intel exits the game

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Fitbit-smartwatch.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Fitbit’s ‘Project Higgs’ in-house designed smartwatch is, by all reports, on schedule to hit the market later this year in time for the holidays, at least in Wall Street’s expectations. To the FT (may be paywalled) CEO James Park reassured, “The product is on track to meet our expectations and the expectations that we’ve set for investors. It’s going to be, in my opinion, our best product yet.” It will be waterproof, a battery that lasts several days, have mobile payment capability (from the Coin acquisition), simple health tracking,  heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, stream music (Spotify and Pandora are rumored), and its own app store. It will be either Wi-Fi or smartphone connected. TechRadar’s agglomeration of rumors include pricing ($199 to $299 –about £231), swappable bands, a full-color screen with 1,000 nits of brightness, an aluminum body and built-in GPS. The most interesting part is the proprietary operating system which uses Javascript. Also Pocket-Lint articles 18 July and 19 July

Intel, however, is giving up the smartwatch and fitness tracking chase. In 2014 they acquired Basis in a well-publicized move and enlisted hip celebrities like 50 Cent to endorse their products versus the likes of Apple and Fitbit. In November about 80 percent of the group was let go, according to CNBC, and entirely eliminated this month. The New Technologies Group is now focusing on augmented reality. CNBC

Assisted Vision: sight enhancement for the partially sighted

Dr Stephen Hicks is a Research Fellow in neuroscience and visual prosthetics at the University of Oxford. He and his team are working on a project to develop a pair of glasses to help partially [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Smart-Glasses.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]sighted people “see” what is in front of them.

BBC’s Johny Cassidy spoke to Hicks recently about the Oxford smart specs project for BBC’s In Touch programme. The project uses Augmented Reality (AR) to make objects in the field of vision sharper for partially sighted people. Hicks says the object is to “try to make a pair of glasses which look relatively normal to people in the environment and still provides a computer based object enhancement and object detection that would be able to be seen by people with very, very limited sight”.

The glasses use two cameras, a gyroscope, a compass and a GPS unit. The “lenses” are made of transparent OLED displays enabling the wearer to see through with any available sight and also allowing others to see the user’s eyes.

“The next step in terms of commercial development is to reduce the size of the glasses and the processing unit into something acceptable to people in day to day life”, says Hicks. The “take-home” versions are targeted to be built in autumn this year.

How much is it likely to cost? A stated goal of the project is to keep the costs down so that the maximum number of people as possible will have access to these glasses. So where possible off-the-shelf components are being used. Hicks says that a pair of glasses for less than £300 is possible compared to just under US$10,000 for the only other one that Johny Cassidy had been able to find. Google Glass, Epson Moverio and similar glasses are, of course, not functionally comparable.

Qualcomm Life, Palomar Health pair up to check out Glass-wear

The pairing up of Qualcomm Life and California health system Palomar Health in Glassomics is certainly a novel move. It’s termed an ‘incubator’ to explore wearable computing in medicine, but it is more like a test bed for the partners. Heading it are two recognized health tech honchos–Don Jones, VP of Qualcomm Life and Orlando Portale, Palomar’s Chief Innovation Officer. Innovation and development is not new for Palomar and Portale–they trialled AirStrip, Mr. Portale’s mobile platform for it (eventually sold to them), and were key in the three-year ramp-up of Sotera Wireless’ Visi Mobile patient vital sign monitor [TTA 23 Aug 12]. Much has been made of the Glass connection and testing its healthcare chops, but their mission is not limited to ‘glassware’ (and not for your weekend drinks party, either.) It’s also a home to test out Qualcomm’s 2net connection platform and Healthy Circles Care Orchestration tools and services. Glassomics website. Gigaom article

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/specs.jpg” thumb_width=”170″ /]And for your weekend drinks party, here’s a cooler, lighter and less geeky take on Glass: GlassUp. It reports incoming e-mails, text messages, tweets, Facebook updates and other messages. Italian design for Augmented Reality (the new cool term for the category) of course. Yours for $299-399 on crowdfunder Indiegogo, where they are less than halfway to their goal with 11 days left (better hustle!). The Indiegogo video here.