Tech Talk: Jiobit Using Smart Technology In Wearables

After losing his son for half an hour, John Renaldi started Jiobit so as to develop and produce the technology that could give meaningful battery life to wearable technology. In John's words, Jiobit's new revolutionary technology could change wearable technology into "invisible" technology - products small enough to easily be incorporated into items of clothing. Jiobit's first product aims to provide two weeks of battery life to a single charge but be half the size of current wearable devices. The company are providing this improvement in battery life through a combination of new hardware and smarter software. Furthermore, their initial product is described as "durable, water and washer proof."

One of the issues with today's technology is that of battery life. For our smartwatches and fitness trackers, the designing engineer has a compromise between functionality, features on the one side and size, weight and battery life on the other. Most fully featured wearable watches can give a typical user twenty four hours of use. Those watches that forego colour displays and location trackers give the wearer longer battery life but at the expense of doing less with it. When it comes to functionality, there is one school of thought that considers less to be more for our smartwatches: Pebble's approach to the smartwatch has broadly followed this ideal, but over the last year, Pebble have steadily improved their devices to bring improved functionality and hardware. Jiobit are definitely in the latter camp; John explains how some manufacturers are trying to shrink near-smartphone functionality and hardware into a much smaller chassis, running under an inefficient operating system, meaning it's another device that needs a daily recharge. He cites the example of a wireless radio connecting to the Internet as much as every ten seconds in some designs, which he considers to be far more than necessary. Jiobit's approach to connectivity is different.

It's different in that the wearable device is designed to realize when it needs to connect to the Internet and otherwise it will remain offline. This "selective connectivity" is designed to reduce power consumption and utilizes software optimization and cloud-based machine learning. The company's internally designed solution, designed and built by Jiobit's team of mostly former Motorola executives and engineers, squeezes an application processor, sensors, cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi plus location radios, into a motherboard that John says is smaller than anything comparable on the market. The chip will send location and usage data to a dedicated Jiobit server, which processes this information to better learn when it's power efficient for the device to connect to the server. Currently, the device uses the cellular or Wi-Fi radio but the company have plans to use the Bluetooth radio and a connected smartphone in the future. The Jiobit server will communicate back with the wearable "to influence behavior."

Jiobit are aware of their solution's dependence on the server infrastructure and because of this, the business are building a series of fallback systems such as the "mesh [virtual private] network." This system allows the devices to communicate their location and status to a number of smartphone applications and nearby devices. Specifics as to how this technology will work remain scarce but Jiobit appear to be pushing into brand new Internet-of-Things technologies, such as taking advantage of some of the new features provided by Bluetooth 5. Furthermore, Jiobit have established a partnership with an unnamed 'phone provider and the technology is able to switch from different carriers in more than 120 countries around the world.

Jiobit's first product will be a wearable device designed to keep track of children rather than a smartwatch, led by John's experience of temporarily losing his son. The device will require a regular plan to pay for server maintenance and the company are preparing to bring the wearable to the market in the fall although it is not clear what markets and for how much the devices will be on sale for. Meanwhile, the hardware is already being tested and incorporated into devices such as ankle bracelets, necklaces and jewelry. Jiobit's technology certainly sounds clever, but the first product is not a full blown smartwatch but instead a location tracker backed up by some clever power optimization technology. This use of intelligent networking technologies could be something that all wearable devices might benefit from although there are questions as to the security and robustness of Jiobit's server infrastructure. It will be interesting to see Jiobit's other devices and how well a Jiobit-designed smartwatch will compare with today's Pebble, Apple Watch and Android Wear devices.

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About the Author
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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.