Smart homes and cities lack disruptive wearable technology solutions

9 APRIL 2018

Smartphones do not provide the disruptive technology developments needed to enable intuitive and prolonged interaction with ‘smart’ homes and cities, says WITgrip.

While the technology exists to facilitate many activities within a smart home, from contactless entry to controlling lights and heating, interaction is currently limited as although the device is connected, the user is not.  Current smartphone technologies also present some of the same issues as remote-control solutions.

“Devices to control smart homes and cities are capable of more than ever, but this has not disrupted the way they are used – simple ergonomics have prevented this,” says Dr Raj Partheban, founder of start-up WITgrip (Wearable Interactive Technology grip).
“Manufacturers have focused on sustaining technologies, for example developing the existing smartphone so that it can control elements within the home,” he continues. “However, this means that phones have simply become a more sophisticated remote control – they’ve not displaced the existing solution.”
 “It’s great that you can user your phone to dim the lights to set the mood in your room, but what’s the point if you don’t always have your phone on you at home?” says Partheban. “To improve interaction with the smart home we need a disruptive solution, and I believe this lies in adapting existing technologies to make them truly wearable with WITgrip.”

The patented WITgrip designs enable devices, such as smartphones or watches, to be securely and comfortably worn on the side of the wrist.  This unique approach allows the wearer to adopt a neutral viewing position, enabling the wrist-based device to be used intuitively and naturally.  It offers increased user comfort while creating a sustainable, connected interface between technology and the human body.

“In the smart home, WITgrip provides the user with a wearable controller, allowing them to interact with the home fully and intuitively at all times,” says Partheban. “This then becomes a normal, habitual and desirable part of daily life that can extend into applications outside of the home as well.”

Like in the smart home, wearing the device on the body with WITgrip enables full integration with the smart city.  Contactless payments, for example, can be transformed.

“With a payment chip in a wristband, we will naturally go to scan the outside edge of the wrist, not the back of the wrist where a smartwatch would be traditionally worn,” says Partheban.  “This means we don’t have to contort our bodies to create a connection between the device and the payment terminal.”

This position also enables users to readily reach further and easily position the wrist to make the contactless payment. With the payment chip embedded in one side of the wristband and the device on the other, users can also potentially see that the payment has been made correctly on the wrist-mounted screen. As well as improving user experience and convenience, this also benefits payment security.

“It’s not having this information on a smartphone that’s important,” explains Partheban. “What’s key is that this information is right there on the wrist, and in the best anatomical viewing position.”

Wearing devices offers similar benefits in cities with smart travelcard systems, while solutions can also be applied effectively for loading and topping up smart cards for cash, energy or travel with the users choice of individual security settings. In addition, ensuring that devices such as smartphones can be comfortably worn on the wrist with WITgrip offers new potential for enhanced security access.  Not only can key cards, finger print or retinal scans be used to control access to restricted areas, but an additional layer of security can be added.  After the first stage of verification is complete, the wearer can be required to enter additional verification information, such as an individual access code, via their device. However, this process is only practical and reliable if a device is securely carried, and readily accessible, on the body by the individual user.

“With WITgrip, we can enhance the way we interact in smart homes and cities simply by wearing our technology in the right way,” says Partheban. “WITgrip will give users a comfortable, interactive experience with their device and will help manufacturers to ensure their technologies have a place in the smart homes and cities of the future.”

WITgrip aims to develop strategic partnerships with organisations such as mobile phone manufacturers, technology companies and wristwatch makers.

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