Smart helmet: The piece of wearable technology that could save your life

Over a ten year period in the US more than 44,000 motorcyclists have died after being involved in crashes while riding. Now the team behind new smart helmet technology is hoping it will save lives by automatically alerting emergency services when the rider is involved in a collision.

The headset, called the X-1 and developed by APEX, is a Bluetooth headset that sends out a distress signal when it senses a collision.

Using gyroscopes and accelerometers in modern smart-phones it detects rapid deceleration, change in position, G-forces and distance traveled in relation to time to detect when an accident has happened.

The headset works with a smartphone app which uses GPS navigation to send the rider’s position to the authorities also allows medical information to be stored and provided to emergency responders.

Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is part of the US Department of Transportation, show that while there has been a slight decrease in the number of motorcyclists dying each year the number is still high.

The most recent statistics show more than 4,600 motorcyclists died in 2011 – compared to 3,200 in 2002 – a further 81,000 were injured. This amounted to 14% of all traffic fatalities in the US during 2011.

Being able to alert emergency authorities as soon as a rider is involved in a crash or collision and speed up the time it takes for them to arrive could help to save lives.

The inventors behind the piece of tech are now trying to raise funds to further develop the product through a crowd-funded Indiegogo campaign.

They are looking to raise a total of $15,000 to help finalise the software design and fund the first run of production. The money will also help to ensure the device is patent protected and available to riders by the summer of this year.

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Writing on their funding page the founders say: “APEX is here for a singular purpose: to save the lives of riders everywhere. Having lost loved ones to fatal accidents, the founders of APEX have a personal stake in motorcycle safety.

“We realized there had to be a way to make the riding experience safer, without sacrificing what makes it so appealing to so many.”

The headset also uses Bluetooth technology to allow the rider to listen to music or call others using their phones.


Images courtesy of Apex Technologies 


Nike FuelBand’s Demise: End of Wearable Tech or a Sign of Bigger Things?

On Friday the wearable technology industry was rocked by news that sportswear heavyweight Nike is canning its wearable fitness tracker FuelBand SE.

The company is laying off between 70% and 80% of its Digital Sport hardware team, which is behind the company’s wearable fitness offerings, and has cancelled updated versions of the FuelBand that had been planned for release later this year.

The news, which was first reported by CNET, has shaken the wearable technology industry. Sports has long been seen as the primary market for wearables, with many analysts predicting that other uses will become mainstream after the technology has become normal in fitness.

But with Nike – one of the major players in wearable technology – pulling out, some are seeing this as the end of an industry that has barely started. Others, however, think Nike has taken a look at where the industry is going to go and has made a strategic decision to reposition before the game changes.

With Nike keeping quiet about its motives, we’ve collected the leading theories on what the company is planning.

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iWatch incoming: did Tim Cook persuade Nike to ditch FuelBand?

Apple’s foray into wearable technology is expected later this year in the form of the iWatch, a wristband with iPhone connectivity. Assuming that occurs, the iWatch is likely to have a very big impact on the wearable technology market, potentially putting some rivals out of business.

Nike is keeping its fitness software around, leading some to reason that the company is planning to focus on software for the iWatch instead  and avoid taking Apple on at hardware. Forbes quoted wearables analyst Daniel Matte of Canalys Research as saying: “Competing with Apple on hardware is a very unappealing prospect.”

Nike wouldn’t even need to rely on rumour to know about the iWatch – Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on the Nike board and may well have dropped a few hints.

Death of wearables: did Nike abandon a dying industry?

For some, however, Nike’s move to can FuelBand is just a wider reflection of the industry as a whole.

According to this theory, Nike took a good look at the wearables industry – including the low sales, quick decline in use and general consumer hostility – and ran in the other direction.

Only time will tell if this one is right, but something tells us that this is more of a software vs hardware discussion than a wearables vs no wearables one.

Super software: canning hardware for a softer solution?

All of the employees that were fired were in the hardware division of a wider, larger software department that (apparently) has not been affected by Nike’s mysterious repositioning.

The company may be focussing more on fitness apps, which will no doubt be in part for Apple’s iPhone and possibly the iWatch.

However, Nike is also releasing the API for Nike+ later this year. The company may be planning to make its software into the standard for sports wearables, and take a backseat on hardware.

Poor planning: was the project just handled badly?

A post on anonymous sharing app Secret from last week also suggests that this was just a case of a mishandled project.

The anonymous poster, who is likely to be a current or ex Nike employee, said:  “The douchebag execs at Nike are going to lay off a bunch of the eng team who developed The FuelBand, and other Nike+ stuff. Mostly because the execs committed gross negligence, wasted tons of money, and didn’t know what they were doing.”


Images courtesy of Nike+.