Sensors are great. Networks of sensors are even better. As you may be aware we’ve built a city-wide network of river level sensors in Oxford to help understand flooding so we know a thing or two about the value of sensor networks.
But when it comes to wearables and devices in the home I think sensors are only part of the story. The devices I find really interesting are not the ones lurking in corners watching your elderly relatives or measuring how warm your kitchen gets – but the ones that provide the user with a useful interjection in their life. This can take many guises. In its weak form it looks like a smart watch that offers reminders or, like Amazon’s dash or recently crowdfunded flic, it is a physical shortcut to a process that usually requires the whipping out of a smart phone or sitting down at a laptop.
A stronger intervention is a product like doppel which seeks to actively influence your mood through entrainment – the mechanism by which your body synchronises with external beats. I was wary, naturally, as it sounds a bit like new age quackery. As luck would have it the creators have two formidable allies on their side: Personal experience and science. The team is very aware that this may seem like voodoo to the uninitiated so they’re conducting rigorous tests to demonstrate the efficacy of the system. Secondly, they gave me a test rig to try. And to my astonishment it really works. As a workout aid it’s great – a quicker beat is excellent for keeping a good running pace and seems to work nicely for warming up just before setting off. Even better, it’s excellent for helping to unwind or to keep calm in situations that would usually be a little tense. It provides a noticeable soothing and calming influence when the beat is set low. I urge you to get in touch with them and give it a try.
The doppel prototypes and final designs
Meanwhile, in Nominet R&D we’re exploring lots of spaces where we think our IoT technologies might be relevant and we’re particularly interested in projects that have the potential to deliver social or economic benefits. We’re working on a system to help people living with dementia to organise their daily routines and we’ve built devices that can be placed around the home and guide users through their routines by alerting them to each task sequentially. The devices take an active role in guiding the user rather than just monitoring them and in doing so form a system that’s far more useful.
Read more on our blog here.