Watch out: Wearable projects time, emails and Twitter notifications onto your hand

A new take on the wristwatch presents a sleek way to not only tell time, but view notifications from your smartphone as well — all on the canvas of your skin.

The watch, called Ritot, safely projects its messages onto your hand instead of using a screen or a typical watch face.

Simply shake your hand or press the button on the watch and the time appears on your skin. Sync it with the Ritot phone app to receive caller ID and text messages, emails, Facebook messages, Twitter alerts and notifications from any other apps you’d like.

Unlike some other wearable technology devices, which can be bulky and indiscreet, Ritot has attempted a simpler approach.

In terms of design, the waterproof band is made of aluminium with a leather finish that resembles a stylish accessory rather than a bulky piece of tech gear. It comes in black or white, but wearers can choose between more than 20 colours for the projections.

Ritot also differs from other smartphone notification wearables in that it can actually show you the message you receive, instead of simply vibrating to let you know that you should take out your phone.

A sport version of the watch made of rubber and plastic is also available. This style could be useful during runs or exercise sessions because of its large, projected interface, making it easy to read your mileage and calories burned just by looking at your hand.

The technology behind Ritot is a tiny pico projector encased within the bracelet that is activated through a touch sensitive button. The high quality of the projections makes notifications readable during the day or night and in any weather.

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Projecting the time or short messages onto your hand could be useful in on-the-go situations where it would be inappropriate to pull out your phone. Perhaps further developments to this technology could take Ritot beyond projections of simple messages to providing more detailed projections of actual screens.

Each Ritot watch comes with a base that enables the wearer to change the colours of its projections, charge the watch wirelessly and change the display mode. In a less high-tech but nonetheless useful feature, the base also doubles as an alarm clock.

The San Jose, California-based startup behind Ritot has recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund the development of the product, hoping to mass produce and distribute the watches by early next year.


Images courtesy of Ritot’s Indiegogo page.


Space elevators “could be built cost-effectively within a century”, says expert

The creation of space elevators is getting closer to reality and could enable cheaper space travel, a leading engineering expert has said.

Peter Debney, a leading engineer at global construction and design firm Arup has said the devices, which would make space far more accessible, could be built cost-effectively within 100 years.

The idea of a space elevator – a transportation system that would use a cable to move people between Earth and space – has seen much speculation for years but the potential is now only starting to be realised.

Previous predictions have said the elevators could be built as soon as 2035 but these would be hugely expensive and not cost effective – as many prototypes are.

However, writing on the company’s website, Debney said those that are practical to build could be just round the corner: “Space elevators are a permanent infrastructure that will reach from the ground to high orbit.

“I believe that they could be built cost-effectively within a century, and pay for themselves within just a few years.

“While we have not quite got all the technology in place, and there are still engineering challenges to be overcome, the space elevator has nearly arrived.”

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He said introducing space elevators, while having a large initial cost, would be cheaper than regularly launching rockets into orbit.

“An elevator should reduce the cost of getting into space to about $220/kg for an estimated build cost of $20 billion.

“It is difficult to predict how much of a difference a reduction of two orders of magnitude on the launch costs will make to the space industry and society, but it is likely to be as significant.

“Today the aerospace industry carries over three billion passengers and $6 trillion of goods a year. This means that the cost of a space elevator is about the same as one day’s air freight.

“The space industry has already given us countless improvements to our lives, from small ones like Velcro and non-stick frying pans, to much bigger ones like global weather forecasting and satellite navigation.

“Cheap space flight would accelerate this innovation, and bring even more benefits in the form of lunar and asteroid mining, as well as an expansion of the human race comparable to our ancestors first leaving Africa or the discovery of America.”

Google X, the company’s experimental division, has been looking at how viable space elevators are, among other ambitious projects, and thinks they will soon be possible.

In an interview with Fast Company earlier this year the team from the research lab confirmed they had thought through making a space elevator.

However, at present the technology to build one does not quite exist.

To be able to build an elevator, in theory at least, we need to be able to manufacture a material that is significantly stronger than any form of steel that exists at the moment.

The one potential solution which has been touted is using carbon nanotubes but, as Google confirmed, it has not been possible to manufacture a carbon nanotube strand longer than a metre.

There will naturally be many more construction challenges that need to be solved before we are able to create a space elevator but the general support for the elevators will mean that when the time comes considerable resources will be put into lifting us into space.