10 future wearables and connected self concepts from Show RCA 2015

Next-gen wearable tech from Royal College of Art students
10 future wearable and IoT concepts

Show RCA is where the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London's product design and innovation engineering students show off what they think the future will look like.

From textiles that charge our gadgets to gloves that turn us into tools, here's what the 2015 cohort had to offer the worlds of wearable tech, digital health and the internet of things.

If you want to check out and try the prototypes yourself, Show RCA is open to the public until 5 July at the RCA's Kensington and Battersea sites in London.

Simi

Simi is a hormone tracking system for women created by Allison Rowe, a designer and engineer who is graduating from the RCA and Imperial's inaugural Global Innovation Design course.

The connected health system includes a saliva-based hormone monitor and app analytics on health issues which affect women at different stages of their lives - mood, nutrition, fertility, ovulation, menopause, fitness, contraception and relationships.

The app is very slick with day views, long term trends and insights based on data you've given to Simi both via the device and manually. After prototyping and doing user testing, Rowe is currently looking for both funding and team members to launch her product.

X-Strike

X-Strike isn't one wearable: it's three, and it wants to track and improve your running performance. Duck-Soo Choi's platform uses smart insoles to capture foot-strike patterns from seven force sensitive resistors. The patterns are then relayed to an app which can send them to two other wearables - a device which is strapped to your hand and gripped to feel the pattern through vibrations and a flexible LED matrix which can be worn on the runners' arm to visualise the real time info for trainers and physios.

Ultimately he wants X-Strike to become a Strava-style competitive and training platform in which runners compare technique and performance. The real time haptic feedback of what Choi calls 3D Generative Locomotion Graphy could also help lesser runners to precisely mimic the professionals.

Projecto

When it comes to digital parenting, wearables for the kids are the opposite of the lonely iPad game. Devices such as Linkitz, Disney's Playmation toys and now Projecto concept aim to get kids moving around and really playing.

Hwansoo Jeon, an MA/Msc Innovation Design Engineering student, wants to get kids away from the 'small worlds' of the iPhone and iPad with this range of projection-based wearable toys.

Kids strap on a Projecto device and 'paint' their bodies and their friends' bodies with colourful patterns, bringing fantasy into the real world via wearables. Nevermind the kids, we want a set please.

Onixx

Frances Yan's Onixx textile could power smartphones and wearables in the future. Her project predicts that by 2030, a textile such as this one which uses lightweight dialectric elastomers to generate energy from our body's natural movements could be a viable green energy solution.

The polymers are knit with bio-degradeable viscose elastane to make the textile elastic and cooling and it is designed to be worn at the knee. Aimed initially at travellers, nature enthusiasts and outdoors types, Yan's system also envisages hubs to store or share any excess energy - in other words crowdsourced human generated energy.

Flair

Feeling tingly? Finnish industrial designer Lotta Julkunen's project Flair is an experimental take on smart clothing. At first glance Flair looks like a protective wearable, similar to Intel and Anouk Wipprecht's Smart Spider Dress which we saw at CES. But the aim is more about keeping in tune with your body's movements and surroundings using our biggest organ, skin.

The garment uses whisker-like 8cm flexible fibres placed along the arms of legs which pick up tactile info such as nearby objects and surfaces as well as your body's motion. The fibres then translate these onto vibrations on your skin. Julkunen even gave a prototype of Flair to a dancer who used the wearable tech to check whether she was using the correct muscles in training.

Happaratus power glove

We've seen wearables that enhance our hands' ability to work as tools before - like Teacher, a robotic device which teaches humans to draw with haptics. Now Morten Grønning Nielsen, a product designer and RCA student, has taken this idea one step further with Happaratus.

Grønning's Innovation Design Engineering project is what he calls a power glove. When worn, it can be used to sculpt stone and wood using three oscillating pads on thumbs and fingertips, which are powered by a motor, that transmits the reciprocating forces through hydraulic cables. Sculptor David Neat has already used a prototype of Happaratus to craft beautiful objects and bowls out of balsa wood, also on display at Show RCA, and Grønning already has a patent pending.

VeoMat

Daniel Walklin's clever connected exercise mat, VeoMat, uses pressure sensors and a series of LEDs to guide your workouts, count repetitions and give you feedback on how you've performed on everything from push-ups and squats to hopscotch.

It's designed for anyone who is bored of doing the same Insanity workouts or exercise DVDs but doesn't necessarily replace them. VeoMat can work wirelessly to download new workouts and corresponding surface patterns and Walklin has made it open source so that anyone can develop compatible apps - for remote personal trainers, say, or routines that friends can challenge each other to complete correctly.

Steppa

Steppa is Chunhao Weng's smart insole for those of us who spend too long sitting down and are increasing our risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. It identifies sitting posture, standing, walking, running and exercise and then hooks up to a desktop device which acts as a visual cue as to how you have been doing - right now, the playful prototype uses ball bearings and figurines which move to match the pressure on each foot's insole.

The Innovation Design Engineering student wants Steppa to act as an alternative to fitness trackers which shame us when we don't reach our standing, moving, steps or calorie goals.

Mimic

Mimic is a sports suit which records your body's movements within the need for a camera. The sensor-laden garment, designed by Tian Jia Hsiesh, an Innovation Design Engineering student, works with a connected smartwatch to record the data and produce 3D images of your movements.

As well as monitoring and improving sports performance, Hsiesh sees Mimic being put to use as an input device. Your body's movements could be projected onto a machine, for instance to control an exoskeleton for a new and futuristic air gliding sport. Sign us up.

Euphoros

Da Euna Lee's Euphoros device is aimed at new mums and can be clipped onto clothing and underwear. The wellbeing wearable detects activity (i.e. movement) and social activity level - the amount of conversation the mother has measured using a mic.

Euphoros connects to partners, doctors and carers via Bluetooth and a companion app. One in seven women suffer from postnatal depression, according to the NHS and Lee has designed Euphoros to help prevent this by improving engagement within new families and building more of a caring network for new mums.

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