10 life-changing wearable gadgets

Wearable gadgets are the future. Any sci-fi movie will tell you that. But we’re impatient. We want the future now, and we want it strapped to our body, enhancing our everyday experiences, STAT (whatever that means).

Read on, and we’ll dish the dirt on the most amazing life-changing wearable gadgets available now, plus the best ones still to come. And, no. We’re sorry, the solar powered fan-hat to the right didn’t quite make the cut…

Wearable gadgets: available now!

There’s an old saying that photographers love: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” It’s as true as pithy one-liners come, and there’s nothing worse than missing the action because you left your snapper at home, or couldn’t put your hands on it at the crucial moment. Sure, mobile phones packing their own cameras mean there’s little excuse for not snapping that amazing photo, but go a step further with Looxcie.

It might look like a Bluetooth headset, but this diminutive ear-dangler is a fully-fledged digital camera. Give it a tap and it’ll record video in 30 second bursts. Even better, if you connect to Looxcie wirelessly using an Android smartphone or iPhone you can record an hour, and use the phone’s screen as a viewfinder as you record the world around you.

iPod touch and Proloquo2Go
The iPod touch? Wearable? And, err, life-changing? Well, yes. For some people, the iPod touch is both of those things. A range of apps, such as Proloquo2Go are transforming the iPod touch from a humble MP3 player to a fully-fledged learning and communication aid for severely autistic children.

Kids suffering from disabilities such as autism strap the iPod touch to their arm, and then use its colourful on-screen icons to communicate in ways they otherwise find awkward. Anything from simple phrases to complex messages can be tapped out. For those kids who find it difficult to express meaning, the iPod touch is a lifeline, and they’d never leave home without wearing it. (Photo via USA Today)

Sony Ericsson LiveView
You’re addicted to your smartphone. It’s OK, you’re amongst friends, you can admit it. But that addiction needn’t cost you time (constantly fishing it from your pocket), or respect (fishing it from your pocket in a meeting). The Sony Ericsson LiveView is the first gadget of its kind: a Bluetooth wristwatch that can run apps and communicate back to your smartphone, as well as receiving instructions from it.

Check out our video below, and you’ll see the LiveView in action (more videos here). It’ll pull up RSS feeds, Facebook updates and Tweets from friends. Even better, when you cap its screen it’ll open your smartphone’s screen to the correct app, and the update can be seen full screen. If you misplace your Android phone, it can also make it beep and flash too.

Withings Blood Pressure monitor
Suffering from high blood pressure and want to keep an eye on it? You’ve probably seen the DIY pressure monitors on sale in Boots and mulled them over. But now, there’s a better option: The Withings Blood Pressure Monitor.

It’s a Wi-Fi enabled blood pressure cuff, hooking up to your arm and taking a reading automatically. From there it syncs your readings to the web using your iPhone or iPad, home Wi-Fi network or 3G connection. It means you can instantly see a graph of your vital statistics, and even share them with a doctor so they can keep an eye on you from afar. No noting down pressures, no fiddling with cables. Just slip the Withings monitor onto your arm each day and then relax!

Microsoft Sensecam
You can’t buy the Microsoft Sensecam, but if you’re lucky enough to be invited to wear one you’ll find it changes the way you think about your life. It’s a neat digital camera, fitted with a fisheye lens, which Microsoft Research participants wear around their necks. It records their daily activities automatically, and they’re later analysed by the Sensecam team.

The idea is the Sensecam has enough knowledge about its surroundings to take photos intelligently. For example, there’s an infra red temperature sensor up front, so it knows when another person crosses your path, by detecting their body heat. Snap! It’s taken a photo of them. Built-in accellerometers and GPS sensors tell it when you’re moving too, so it can document journeys. Significant changes in light trigger photos too.

But what’s it all for? As well as documenting your day so you don’t have to, the Sensecam’s data can be used to help doctors treat people with mental health illnesses, such as memory loss, assess journeys through buildings by disabled visitors, monitor the food intake of those with eating disorders… the possibilities are endless, and early studies show Sensecam is already making a difference to those suffering memory problems, even after they stop wearing it.

Wearable gadgets: coming soon!

Sony Personal Display
We first caught sight of the Sony Personal Display concept at CES in January. It’s an amazing idea, cooked up by Sony’s TV engineers. They reckon that, by getting two tiny screens close to your eyeballs, they can create perfect 3D images that appear to be the size of a regular cinema screen. What’s more, since the Sony Personal Display includes audio capabilities, the sonic reproduction of movies is pristine too.

Sony says you might enjoy wearing their gorgeous gizmo on a transatlantic flight, shunning the tiny seat-back screens in favour of the perfect mobile 3D experience, with top notch sound too!

Honda Walking Assist
Mobility problems stopping you getting out and about? Got a lot of heavy lifting to do? Maybe you’re walking a long way, or are just plain lazy? You need the Honda Walking Assist. Built using the same technology as the Honda Asimo robot, these metal legs might look like a sort of high-tech bum bag, but Honda’s deadly serious about them.

We’ve seen demos of them at work, being worn by factory workers heaving huge lumps of metal around, taking the strain so employees don’t over-stretch themselves. They’re also, apparently, able to get those with difficulty walking up a flight of stairs. Us? We just want a helping hand (or, rather, foot) to get to the corner shop.

Lady Gaga Polaroid glasses
Lady Gaga’s loopy lenses pack tiny screen behind each eye. No, they’re not so you can view the world through augmented reality or anything remotely like it: these screens point outwards. They’re for the benefit of those looking at you, rather than for you to look at.

The idea is you’ll be able to express yourself in new ways, with photos and text slapped up in front of your eyeballs. It’s an interesting idea, since humans communicate best with eye contact. Will this enhance that, or destroy it altogether? Polaroid says we’ll be able to find out when Lady Gaga’s glasses go on sale this year.

Gadget fans despise running out of juice on the road, and packing an extra battery will only last so long. Enter the nPowerPEG, it’s a personal energy generator (hence, the PEG), and looks like a metallic policeman’s truncheon. Don’t be scared though, inside there are kinetic parts which move as you do, generating power. nPower says you can shove it in your backpack or daybag, and the action of walking around town will charge it up, so you can re-juice your gadgets from it.

When your kit’s charged, slip the nPowerPEG back in your bag, and resume normal activities. It’ll stay there, silently generating electricity. Now, isn’t that a modern-day essential, and miles better than those boring battery-packed chargers?

Wesc KarmaTech shoes
Want some seriously futuristic wearable gadgets? Check out these Wesc KarmaTech shoes. They pack RFID chips to identify the wearer. The idea is you’ll stroll into a store and be greeted personally, or check-in automatically through Facebook, Foursquare or Gowalla.

It’s all intended to make location-based technology seamless. Think about it: The chances of you remembering to fish your phone from a pocket, fire up an app, manually check in and then take advantage of bargains, friends near by or any of those other social networking goodies? Pretty small. The chances you’ll be wearing shoes? Pretty much 100%, we’d say.

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