Wearable wonders of emerging India
The game has just begun. We take an early snapshot of Indian startup companies trying to lead the wearable device revolution.gadgets Updated: Aug 12, 2014 11:18 IST
There is a pedometer that can speak to your smartphone, and a sensor on your wrist can now see how much you have run. But the wearable computing revolution has only just begun. And devices are increasingly affordable. For example, Xiaomi now has a $13 (Rs. 780) wearable to track your fitness regime. There are some Indian devices that are emerging as potential challengers in a space where giants like Samsung and LG are struggling at a global level. We take an early look at some this week.
We can’t really call this an Indian company, though the founder and CEO is Indian Vishal Gondal. GoQii simply matches those who wear its device with trained fitness coaches who guide you by chat, video or voice calls. Launched already, it has not yet reached this reviewer. The service and the band are priced in a package at Rs. 6,999 + taxes for a six-month period and Rs. 11 Rs. ,999 + taxes for a 12-month period. It is not clear if you can cancel the service after that period. Meanwhile, a company based out of Dubai called Tupelo is trying to bring their wearable device in India and this too is a coach-access gizmo. The pricing and details are not available.
Kochi-based RHL Vision is developing Fin, a simple ring you will sport on your thumb (yes!) and use gesture control to manage devices over Bluetooth wireless links. To start with you can use that to make phone calls or decline them. You can also use it to operate your TV like your thumb was a remote. The possibilities are endless. The launch is expected now early in 2015. Priced at $120 (Rs. 7,200) it may seem like an expensive device, but if you could control all the devices around your house or office and make them dance at your thumb tip, the price is probably worth it. But the jury must await the launch.
In Hyderabad, a bunch of engineers have launched a smart Bluetooth-linked insole for your shoe. This measures how much you walked and help you navigate as well. A buzzer on your left foot (inside the shoe, of course) will vibrate to tell you whether you should turn right or left. The insole is bacteria-resistant, waterproof and fits most shoes. We don’t quite know other details including the cost as the product is still in a lab stage. The smart insole will also act like a reminder service. Companies like Nike have made shoe sensors in the past but what LeChal is doing is a double benefit of getting you fitness with navigation. Its price and quality may well be the deciding factors in a global race.
SHE (Society Harnessing Equipment)
It’s wonder bra for the digital age. Manisha Mohan, an engineering student, came up with this bright little wearable. It is a woman’s brassiere that contains a pressure sensor, a built in-GPS tracker and technology to deliver a 3,800 kilovolt shock to an attacker in case she is attacked. The bra uses its pressure sensor to detect an attack and is made in multiple layers to keep the wearer protected while disabling an attacker. The built-in GPS will also send a warning SOS signal to the police. Microsoft has developed a bra for women that has an ECG [electrocardiogram] and an EDA [electrodermal activity] sensors to test body reactions including depression. But it is not in the market yet.
…and there are more
India has a unique advantage with a huge pool of engineering students that graduate each year, and with brighter and brighter kids every year there is more to come. Companies such as Hyderabad-based Ineda are developing computing devices that will make computing sense out of data spewed by wearables. Similarly, Bangalore-based Get Active has had a basic fitness-linked wearable very similar to Fitbit available since 2013, and is now selling it at a throw away price of Rs. 2,999.