Intelligent machines on the march

Intelligent functionality and smart connectivity are increasingly being seen in consumer electronics, ­domestic appliances, healthcare products, and mobile electronic devices. The market in miniature devices for personal wellness and fitness is growing particularly strongly. We present just a few of the many exciting new smart devices available.

Smarter training

Fitbit Surge is a slim fitness super watch combining GPS, continuous wrist pulse rate measurement, activity tracking and smartwatch functionality in one device. A total of eight sensors – a 3-axis acceleration meter, gyroscope, compass, ambient light sensor, GPS and pulse rate monitor – work together to provide users with a powerful multi-monitor resource. The device enables a wide variety of different training modes to be monitored and evaluated. Users can monitor their food intake and count calories through a barcode reader, or even by voice input if they are running Cortana.

Knowing who’s arriving home

Netatmo’s Welcome is a camera that identifies family members based on facial recognition. The system sends the names of the people it identifies to the user’s smartphone. The camera also notifies the user if it detects an unknown face. The camera has an on-board SD card, so all video and identification data remains completely private. No information is stored on the Cloud. Moreover, access from the user’s smartphone is protected by a banking-standard encrypted connection, ensuring maximum security.

Perfect frying and cooking

The PerfectFry frying sensor and the wireless PerfectCook cooking sensor from Bosch make cooking a stress-free pleasure even when multiple pots and pans are in use. The new sensors keep the temperature precisely within a pre-selected range, with each dish being cooked at exactly the temperature it needs to turn out perfectly. The sensors continuously monitor the heat levels and relay the data to the sensitive electronics. Once the temperature has been set, the cooker temperatures are automatically regulated. As a result, overheating or burning of food is virtually impossible.

Health management by scales

The SL 200 Connect multi-function scale from Medisana not only weighs the user but also measures body mass index (BMI), body fat and water content, as well as muscle and bone mass. An integrated calorie requirement analyser indicates the actual energy input each individual needs. The scale automatically recognises up to eight users. All recorded data can be transferred via Bluetooth to an app for iOS or Android devices. The app’s features include a daily activity chart and a 14-day overview based on which users can work towards their individual target weight.

Protecting the ankle

Trainee engineers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed an innovative running shoe with adjustable impact cushioning controlled by a smartphone app. The shoe, called JointWatchR, also features integrated sensors that create a motion profile of the foot as it hits the ground. The data is transmitted wirelessly to a smartphone, providing immediate feedback while running and enabling subsequent evaluation. The shoe detects unfavourable and harmful loading on joints and warns the wearer accordingly, thereby helping to support the joint. The developer team has already acquired partners including Adidas, Würth Elektronik and BASF for its project.

Vacuuming with smart navigation

The Kobold VR200 vacuum-cleaner robot from Vorwerk navigates autonomously around the home, effectively cleaning both hard floors and carpets based on a logical routing pattern. The robot’s sensors enable it to detect door openings and so move from room to room as it cleans. Its laser scanner and on-board ultrasound technology detect 98 percent of all obstacles. Three floor sensors enable it to detect stairs and keep away from them. The robot saves all the data it collects to a map, allowing it to develop a logical and efficient cleaning strategy and navigate autonomously around the home. It is also possible to program hotspots that the robot needs to run over multiple times.

Controlling machines with a magic hand

The Myo armband from Canadian company Thalmic Labs allows users to control electronic devices by gestures. Sensors in the armband detect the low electrical currents generated when the muscles in the lower arm move, and convert them into control signals. As opposed to other gesture control devices, it needs no camera to capture the user’s gestures. This means the user is not tied to a specific position in order to remain connected to the gesture control unit and the electronic device being controlled. The armband communicates with computers, smartphones and other electronic devices via Bluetooth Low Energy.

(picture credits: Adidas; Fitbit Surge; Medisana; Netatmo; Robert Bosch Hausgeräte GmbH; Talmi Labs; Vorwerk)

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