The Royal College of Art and Imperial College London have been showing off a number of innovative product designs from its students in recent times, and this year’s event builds upon that success with a bevy of futuristic concepts, including those pertaining to wearable technology. RCA 2017 saw students showcase new ideas of what wearables will look like and how they will work in some unspecified future. For instance, Sensei – a real-time guidance platform designed to help connect individuals who need technical assistance to both human and machine experts – offers a unique approach to instructional methods. Developed by Daljinder Sanghera, the technology includes a head-mounted camera that presents the instructor (a human or a machine) with a first-person point of view of what you are looking at while they provide information. It also points directly to objects in the user’s space via a projector and can speak to them. The system includes a mobile app that works to send pictures and video clips as additional information to the user’s phone. Additionally, there is Sano, created by MA Design Products student Alistar Magrini for Corticare UK, a bioengineering startup at Imperial. It is a personal electronic device that analyzes the level of cortisol in saliva to measure stress. The goal is to help improve the wearer’s health and wellbeing, with the device itself being specifically designed for gym-goers and athletes to help prevent weight gain and inflammation.
Another experimental piece of tech showcased during the event is a musical instrument and a set of wearable haptic pads created by Marie Tricaud. Called Touché, it is designed to create a synaesthetic concert that expands music to the skin of the wearer through a haptic performer. Touché also enables a set of pads to be mapped in any combination to produce a network of pulsations aimed at your body. To help address the problem of controls in augmented reality, Nat Martin developed Scroll, a smart ring that puts a large focus on precision and closer-to-surface gestures. Scroll also comes with an AR interface that Martin developed based on a timeline that adapts in accordance with your surroundings.
Danielle Clode's project called Third Thumb is another unconventional experiment that caters to people who wish to have an extra thumb. The technology can serve two functions, being able to act as both an electronic tool and kinetic jewelry. It uses two motors that pull against the natural tension of a 3D-printed material to replicate the movements of a human thumb. Finally, there’s Eun Kyung Shin's Hyperface project that works to merge artificial intelligence, Snapchat filters, and headsets to produce a futuristic, surreal experience with the goal of augmenting human facial expressions during stressful moments. While not all of the wearable tech ideas showcased at the event may prove useful in every situation, some of these concepts could actually move forward to the market, their creators are hoping.