The world doesn’t need more expensive pedometers. I have a growing list of wearables I wish existed, though:
The Face Whisperer
Perfect for people with face blindness, short attention spans, or stressed memory, this device would use discrete audio and video inputs to recognize people nearby. With a subtle gesture, I could trigger the device to whisper the person’s name into my ear (or onto a Heads Up Display if a Google Glass-like product ever went mainstream). Perhaps another gesture could supply additional information, like the last time that person was encountered, or her employer, or whatever would be relevant to the user. Another version of the software might analyze facial expressions and whisper emotional cues to someone on the autistic spectrum. Cheaper and less annoying, I would think, than a sycophantic assistant.
The Automatic Pain Diary
Anyone with chronic pain is familiar with questions about frequency and type of pain experienced. Recording that is easier said than done. First there’s the problem that one way of coping with frequent pain is to push it out of our conscious minds. Also, having frequent pain means that it occurs at inconvenient times: in the middle of work, while driving, in bed, while grocery shopping, etc. Doctors who want pain diaries have probably never tried to keep one themselves. This wearable diary could be a wristband that the user presses to activate, then presses a number of times corresponding to pain level. Perhaps a second button could record a short audio clip, giving a description, location, and/or possible trigger for the pain. Have that synch into a database that can be printed or transmitted electronically. Ta-da! Far more accurate and less stress for the patient.
This one is awfully personal, but I can see it being useful for a wider range of people (Parkinson’s Disease patients, training athletes, people in accident rehab). Wearable sensors on ankles or attached to footwear would track various items about a person’s gait: length and speed of stride, consistency, alignment, etc. This could be synced and compared to a range considered “acceptable”, with a report on what variations occurred and whether the trend is improving. Even better, if the measured gait is outside the desired range an alert would be delivered to a smartphone or wrist wearable. I’m currently learning to walk correctly and it’s awfully difficult: I can’t see myself walk and once I pay conscious attention to my gait, it changes.
Biofeedback training can help with stress, PTSD, headaches, and more. It’s a natural for gamification; in fact, Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry has a game called Mindball, which is essentially competitive relaxation. The biofeedback devices I find online right now are pretty lame. Give me discrete wearables that tie into an app with various programs. For example, let me float a happy bunny around a beautiful landscape in a bubble, guided by calmed brainwaves, lower pulse, and deep slow respiration. Give me a Bob Ross-style landscape that paints itself slowly over a 10-20 minute biofeedback session. Slowly erase the scene or bring the bubble down to earth if my zen is harshed. It’s not quite guided meditation but it could be a way to integrate and calm mind and body for a little break.
Anybody out there who can make these happen? Fabulous. Send me some when you’re done!