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Entries in sensors (4)


In-body sensing, Bell's law, and NYT coverage of some new devices

CorTemp® Ingestible Core Body Temperature SensorWearable computing is exciting, and on-body sensing is a health game-changer. But the real action will be in-body, as I learned from Dr. David Rollo of Cell Point while doing research for Your Life, Uploaded. Soon my head was full of visions of nanobots in my bloodstream and devices in my stomach that tell my cellphone what is going on inside.

Naturally, Gordon Bell called this trend - Bell's Law predicts the continued formation of  smaller classes of computing devices, and ever since I met him in the 90s he's talked about a world-wide network of big computers shrinking down to an on-body network of tiny devices.

Do Rollo and Bell sound like crazy futurists? Not so. Check out this New York Times article that highlights some of the devices getting ready to come to market:

They look like normal pills, oblong and a little smaller than a daily vitamin. But if your doctor writes a prescription for these pills in the not-too-distant future, you might hear a new twist on an old cliché: “Take two of these ingestible computers, and they will e-mail me in the morning.”

One of the pills, made by Proteus Digital Health, a small company in Redwood City, Calif., does not need a battery. Instead, the body is the power source. Just as a potato can power a light bulb, Proteus has added magnesium and copper on each side of its tiny sensor, which generates just enough electricity from stomach acids.

...A pill called the CorTemp Ingestible Core Body Temperature Sensor, made by HQ Inc. in Palmetto, Fla., has a built-in battery and wirelessly transmits real-time body temperature as it travels through a patient.

Firefighters, football players, soldiers and astronauts have used the device so their employers can monitor them and ensure they do not overheat in high temperatures.





Available "Summer 2013," CubeSensors are "small, cordless and connected devices that continuously measure temperature, humidity, noise, light, air quality and barometric pressure."

See TechCrunch for a nice article about them and another article about competitor Lapka


Autographer: the latest incarnation of the SenseCam

The SenseCam, a wearable automatic camera invented by Lyndsay Williams when she was at MSR Cambridge, was a big factor in MyLifeBits and helped us form many of the insights for Your Life, Uploaded. It made its commerical debut as the Vicon Revue with very few changes to its design and targeted at memory loss patients. Now OMG has updated its look and function for consumers and released it as the Autographer.

Like the original SenseCam, it has a fixed-focus, fish-eye lens to capture your experience without worrying much about where it is pointed. The autographers has these sensors: 

  • a light level sensor, so that when you change scene, such as walking through a doorway, it can take a picture of the new room
  • a passive infrared sensor so that person (a warm body) can trigger a picture
  • an accelerometer, so that when it jiggles it can avoid taking a blurry picture (and motion can indicate photo opportunities)
  • magnetomorer: detects changes in direction, like a compass does
  • temperature: temperature can signal a change worth snapping a picture (and enables a record of your environment)
  • GPS: to record your location

Pictures are taken with a 5 megapixel low light sensor, which hopefully makes it much better at indoor photography than the old SenseCam. It has 8GB or storage, bluetooth and both desktop and smartphone apps to handle all the pictures and sensor values.




This week while travelling I noticed that my Limo had a special camera - a DriveCam. Actually, this device has cameras both front and back - watching what is going on in the vehicle as well as the view out the front. When unusual forces are detected by sensors in the camera, for instance due to hard braking or a fast turn, a video of the event is kept and tranmitted via a celluar network. Speed, location and forces are all tracked and compiled into reports on the driver. DriveCam boasts improvements to safety, fuel efficiency, and a reduction in fraudulent claims.

DriveCam isn't only for Limosines and other commercial drivers - the product is also being used for teenage drivers.