Wearable Computing is the next big thing. Recently, a vast number of wearable devices has flooded the consumer electronics market. Devices ranging from smart watches, glasses, workout monitors, trackers, belts, arm bands, EEG caps etc are readily available and they all cater to specific and different needs. As much as these devices help us in various tasks we can't expect a user to buy so many of these devices. It might be desired to have some kind of integration between those wearable but as they are different devices they don't talk.
We think of a single wearable device that can do anything user wants. What better than a TShirt - "A T-Shirt for Everything". Which is loaded with the basic sensors and integrates with a smart phone to be operated.
How it works
Gyro, truly is, a TShirt for everything. Health care, assistive technology, games, entertainment, automation, security anything which your shiny and costly new gizmo does Gyro can do as well. It has got a accelerometer, temperature sensor, infrared transreceiver, vibration motor and bluetooth connectivity. Over this bluetooth backhaul it communicates to smartphone App for GPS, Internet Connectivity, Dashboard and settings. All major smartphones including Windows Phone can be supported. And finally it has got a long battery life. The battery is rechargeable even while the tshirt is powered on.
Suppose if you want to play LaserTag/PaintBall with your friends all that you need to do is tap on LaserTag app on your smartphone and start shooting at enemy teams through an IR gun or TV remote. Gyro will keep track of shots and remaining lives. You can feel the shots as jolts on your tshirt. Another application can be in health monitoring where one can monitor health of an elderly so whenever there is an emergency situation he/she gets an alert with GPS tracking and address to reach there.
Challenges I ran into
1) Keeping the hardware connections tight, compact and light-weight. 2) Interfacing various sensors, actuators and modules together. 3) Serial Communication over bluetooth module. It took more than 6 hours of debugging to pin down that baudrate was causing all the nuisance. 4) As Lilypad wasn't available to us at PennApps we had to use Aruino UNO for prototyping. Not the best choice but it works great. 5) Battery life and ease of recharging
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
1) End to end working of not just an application but 3 different applications which can further be expanded to many other applications. 2) Hardware software interfacing and communication. Designing the hardware right from the scratch. 3) Tight and light-weight hardware so as to perfectly fit in for a t-shirt
What I learned
1) Bluetooth Interfacing with WIndows Phone 8.1. 2) Challenges in wearable computing - weight, ease of use, GPS connectivity indoors, battery life.
What's next for Gyro
Gyro is not just a prototype it has a potential to be the next big thing in wearable device industry. It doesn't restricts itself to health or entertainment it does anything you can think of and many others which we still don't know about. It is a platform over which thousands of apps can be developed and many start-ups would flourish.