Touch the beat: Wearable music control at your fingertips

A new design using Bluetooth technology allows its wearers to control their music apps simply by tapping their fingers together.

The product, GoGlove, is a thin glove liner that was originally conceived for skiers and snowboarders, enabling them to change their music while in motion on the slopes. However, the glove can be used in any workout or activity where holding a phone to control music would be difficult, such as running, biking or skating.

Tiny sensors in the fingertips and thumb can play a song, pause it, change it and increase or decrease volume. Eric Ely and Ben Harris, cousins and creators of the GoGlove, have named these fingertip sensors “airtap technology,” powered by a battery that can last up to six months with daily use.

The glove can control your music library on iOS or Android, and is also able to work with third party apps such as Pandora and Spotify.

According to GoGlove’s newly launched Kickstarter campaign, the stretch goals for the design will help the team to create an app that lets users customize the glove, activating Siri or changing music with whichever finger you prefer.

Harris and Ely plan to release an API for the GoGlove that is open for public use, so that other app developers can also implement the GoGlove into their apps.

In this way, runners and other athletes could use the glove to control their exercise apps and hear their mileage and calorie burn reported to them with a tap of their fingers.

Another stretch goal will fund the development of the GoBand, a wristband that uses the same wireless technology to control music in warmer weather, when the use of a glove would be uncomfortable.

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Interest in wearable technology has skyrocketed in the past few years, with the development of everything from jewellery that gives you phone notifications to hoodies that send text messages. The GoGlove brings another aspect to the field of wearables as a way to simplify control over your music on-the-go.

These wearables and their various uses are helpful and exciting, but as more and more hit the consumer market, the true feat will be integrating all of their capabilities into a single item. Perhaps one day there will be a wearable that eliminates the need to have different products for wireless music control, phone notifications, text sending and the many other functions that are available.

Though that day has not yet arrived, GoGlove presents a new way to think about phone-free music control and another possible form for the integration of many more functions.


Images and video courtesy of GoGlove’s Kickstarter page.


To infinity and beyond: Teaching drones to interact and work together

Drones are able to reach places that humans cannot and by teaching them how to work together it is hoped they can be used in crisis situations such as search and rescue missions.

One such robotics project at the University of Sheffield, UK, is trying to teaching quadcopters to learn from the environment they are in by 3D mapping what is in front of them.

The team from the university is also trying to enable the quadcopters to interact so it is possible they can work together.

Researchers are trying to programme the drones with intelligence to allow them to complete more complex tasks in environments that are unsafe for humans, such as areas affected by nuclear radiation or outer space.

The new programming developments in these robots enhance their learning and decision-making capabilities.

Professor Sandor Veres, who is leading the project, said: “We are used to the robots of science fiction films being able to act independently, recognise objects and individuals and make decisions.

“In the real world, however, although robots can be extremely intelligent individually, their ability to co-operate and interact with each other and with humans is still very limited.

“As we develop robots for use in space or to send into nuclear environments – places where humans cannot easily go – the goal will be for them to understand their surroundings and make decisions based on that understanding.”

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A team from the university is trying to teach the drones to achieve this level of intelligence by using a computer concept called game theory.

In game theory, robots treat their tasks as a game, record and learn from the behaviour of the other robots they encounter, and draw from their experiences to try to ‘win’.

Though the theory is based around competition, it encourages compatibility and teamwork within a group of robots.  As they learn to predict each other’s next moves, they avoid collisions and increase efficiency.

The quadcopters collect data through attached forward facing cameras that allow them to create 3D maps of their surroundings, also sensing barometric and ultrasonic information to add to their understanding.

The improved processing of this data will allow them to work both with humans and other robots, a skill that will be crucial if the robot is to work in high-pressure situations.

While quadcopters are being developed for emergency aid and for use in dangerous environments, other flying robots are being honed for recreational purposes.

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AirDog, an action sports drone, acts as a flying video crew. It follows its users through a tracking bracelet as they participate in sports like BMX, surfing and wake-boarding, taking high-quality videos and photographs.

The Airdog is manufactured by 3D printing, which allows for a lighter, less expensive design that can be sold as an accessible consumer product.

Essentially a quadcopter for the extreme sports market, the AirDog can record angles that a human could only achieve by filming from a helicopter.

Users program the desired distance, height and speed levels before they release the drone, and then it follows the user according to the desired specifications.

These different devices show just a small range of the possible applications for advanced flying robots.

Their ability to easily travel to places that humans cannot reach without the aid of a plane or helicopter makes them incredibly useful in all kinds of situations, from search-and-rescue missions to package deliveries. What other uses will we find for these sky-roaming drones?


Featured image courtesy of Kaometet, first body image courtesy of Steve Lodefink, second body image courtesy of Helico Aerospace Industries.