30 June 2014

Look Ma, No Hands [update 2]

I got into a bit of a cat fight over on Seeking Alpha over the nature and value of the iWatch, if that's what it's going to be named. On my walk back from coffee and the newspaper, I mulled over the issue of what Apple could do to top current smart wrist devices. It's legendary that Apple had cornered the market on touch screen (or, at least, a critical component) and aluminum extrusion in the runup to the iPhone. Although, at the time, it looked to my eyes that Apple had merely stuffed a phone into the current iPod chassis.

Whatever. The point being, what could Apple have up its sleeve? I've seen no rumoring of Apple cornering any hardware this time, but if not, then that leaves power and a gimmick. The gimmick is a flip-watch; this provides twice the screen real estate (or thereabouts) to play with. At the same time, clearly, the form factor limits how much battery can be housed. Which sent a Gyro Gearloose bulb off in my noggin. One thing Apple could corner, and sourced in Asia anyway, is novel battery packaging. There seem to be two options, the hard and the easy. Well, -er.

Hard: a fully flexible chemistry in a neoprene (or similar) band. Would need to be pretty thoroughly tested; wouldn't want to have one break and melt off the user's hand.

Easy: a small battery cell, with one in each link of a bracelet. The techy nasty bit is connection among the cells.

Well, today AnandTech looks at a couple of new smartwatches. This is the ending:
One thing is for sure: those batteries are going to have to get thinner, or find a new place to live. Perhaps split up and distributed into a watch band?

I hate it when these rich famous dudes Vulcan mind meld me. So intrusive.

Well, that's too bad. Figuring that there's nothing new under the sun, two dead simple searches yielded, oops!

Google's patented the flip watch.
Nokia the flexible battery.

[update 2]
Years ago, actually a couple of decades, a guy where I worked was something of an avid runner, and had a runner's heart rate (and other parameters?) monitor. I recall it had two parts, the display on a wrist band and a shoulder holster kind of rig which had the sensor on the chest. Which got me to thinking: is it possible to *accurately* monitor heart function solely from the wrist pulse? Turns out not so much.
I put five leading smart devices with heart rate monitors to the test, measuring their accuracy with an EKG and the help of Dr. Zaroff, a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente medical center in San Francisco. You can find my results below, but it seems the optical sensing technology used in many of today's new, wrist-based mobile heart rate monitors is sometimes inaccurate. That's in comparison to time-tested EKG machines (or the heart rate monitors that emulate them), which sense the electrical impulses that trigger your heartbeats.

If these toys can't even get heart rate right? And you're going to rely on them for what else???

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