Wearable technology was one of the hottest topics at the IDTechEx Show! in Berlin. In order to recognise the fantastic work being done, IDTechEx presented two awards highlighting the outstanding progress being made at both product and component level.
The focus of these awards was on the future of the topic. The area has reached high levels of hype and revenue using many mature technologies, but new innovation is required to meet many of the key challenges that wearable products face today. Both winners have contributed to addressing these issues, and deserve to be recognised.
The award judges were as follows:
Dr Margreet de Kok - Senior Scientist, The Holst Centre
Dr Russel Torah - Senior Research Fellow, The University of Southampton
Best New Wearable Technology Device
This award was for the best new wearable technology device developed in the year prior to the event. Whilst the decision was very close between extremely varied entries, Bainisha's body motion capture system using a micron thick functional skin patch was the worthy winner.
The product is designed to go where MEMS IMUs cannot, producing 'Gold Standard' data for bio-mechanical motion capture using a miron-thickness skin patch. The patch is made using printed electronics processes for the sensors, battery and antennae, with an integrated microcontroller. This produces kHz read rates and ±0.3% precision.
The product shows what is possible when taking a bottom up approach to designing a motion capture device with optimal user comfort and data quality. There are many applications where this product is applicable (starting in sports monitoring, but expanding to medical applications and more), so the next challenge for the Bainisha team is in scale up via printed electronics techniques.
Best New Material or Component Development for Wearable Technology
Winner: Alta Devices
In summary, Alta Devices manufacture the world's highest efficiency, flexible, single-junction solar cell. They 28.8% efficiency, which equates to around 30 mW/cm2 in full sunlight, and have performance 5x better than other thin film solar options in indoor lighting conditions.
Arguably the most significant challenge for wearable technology products today is achieving sufficient battery life to be useful. Incorporating secondary energy sources and/or recharging via energy harvesting is seen as one possible solution to this.
Of all of the energy harvesting options, it is generally agreed that solar is the most promising to date, and the Alta Devices GaAs thin-film cells provide the highest efficiency that has been shown so far. Whilst the cost remains high, scale-up over the coming years will enable reductions in cost, and Alta Devices is already working with over 200 customers on battery extension applications.
The next IDTechEx Wearable Technology awards will be held at the IDTechEx Show! on November 18-19 in Santa Clara, CA. To stay up to date, go to http://www.idtechex.com/wearable-technology-usa/conference.asp
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Wearable USA 2019 on 20 - 21 Nov 2019 at Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, USA hosted by IDTechEx.