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Wearables

Case Aims: To illustrate how the exploitation of wearable IoT systems offers new entrepreneurial opportunities

One area in which the importance of IoT is growing is that of 'wearable technology' such as that provided by smartwatches (Wong 2015). These are worn by the user, and similar to the smartphone they permit automatic identification of location through exploitation of GPS. In addition to functioning as a timekeeper, the smartwatch is typically in constant contact with its owner. This provides the capability of recognising its owner's physical activities and location. In contrast, a limitation associated with smartphones is that when users are not holding them, they cannot measure any aspect of the users' physical or physiological condition. As a consequence along with other forms of wearable technology, the smartwatch's continual connection to the skin offers new potential to revolutionise mobile health (or m-Health) provision. Software and hardware suppliers have already recognised the huge potential for the provision of new online entrepreneurial services. The location on the body of the smartwatch also permits easy recording of heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature, blood oxygen and galvanic skin response. The latter attribute can be used to identify physiological arousal, especially when combined with heart rate and heart rate variability with the potential to assess the emotional state of the wearer (Rawassizadeh et al. 2015)

Eisberg (2015) noted that the same technologies are also being extended into the development of smart clothing. The Teiimo company's MP3 Infineon jacket (www.teiimo.com) has earphones and microphone designed into the jacket along with a keypad incorporated in the fabric, and a hermetically encapsulated audio module, all powered by a removable battery and multimedia card. Other manufacturers such as Philips/Levi are

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incorporating a textile keypad, cable harness, and integrated microphone and docking station into their jacket designs. More recently, clothing incorporating LED lights and heating elements have been introduced. Further advances in MEMS, including accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers, optical sensors and actuators are being used to increase the capability of smart clothing to supply m-Health services.

The Spanish firm Sensing-Tex (www.sensingtex.com) has demonstrated that these technologies can be used for a wide range of applications such as personal lighting solutions for cycling clothing or doormats in building entrances, recording both ingress and exit. BeBop (www.bebopsensors. com), an American firm, is developing a multilayer printed fabric sensors that can be used, for example, as skull caps to monitor head impacts or pressure mats for baseball. A number of clothing companies are collaborating with the European electronics firm Philips to develop sensor embedded in clothing to help monitor water accumulation in the lungs and to predict the need for hospitalisation. Power textile fibres, which have the potential to operate as photovoltaic fibres or supercapacitors, are also under development. These fibres, when woven into textiles, have the potential to both produce and store electric power. Another approach to power harvesting is to use the human body to provide the power, either thermally or mechanically through movement, using fibres that behave as piezoelectrics.

 
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