HELPING PEOPLE AVOID FALLS
The new Apple Watch is capable of telling when a person has fallen down and calling for help. But a wearable device created by researchers at Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de València aims to make sure that they don’t fall down to begin with. Called FallSkip, it’s a custom smart waistband which works in conjunction with a mobile app.
By analyzing a person’s balance and gait patterns, coordination, reaction time, and muscle strength using an in-built accelerometer and gyroscope, it awards a score indicating a person’s chances of falling in the near future. The team hopes that the wearable will one day be a standard tool in every physician’s clinic to help optimize care for the growing elderly population.
AIDING PEOPLE WITH AUTISM
Unlike some of the other projects on this list, this one isn’t so much a new wearable device as it is a new medical application for an existing one — in this case, Google’s ill-fated Google Glass. At Stanford University, researchers have been investigating ways that Google’s headset could be used by people with autism to identify the expression displayed by the people they are interacting with.
This is something that those on the autistic spectrum can have particular difficulty with. It’s not meant to be used in all social situations, but rather as a training tool at home, with users matching up emojis to acted-out emotions on the part of a parent or caregiver. It can also help to promote eye contact.