As we approach the end of the year and think back to all the mobile and wearable devices that launched, I wonder why more of them don’t utilize the body itself.
We all know that the machine-human integration is coming at some point; maybe it will start with consumer electronics.
A couple of products emerged this year got me thinking about this.
One of them, called Thync, is a headset device that vibrates the bone in your head. The vibrations create electronic or ultrasonic waveforms to signal neural pathways in the brain. When specific pathways are stimulated, they trigger a shift in your state of mind or energy level.
Thync raised $13 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, and says it’ll launch its product in 2015.
The Muse headset senses neural activity so you can achieve more meditative states through biofeedback.
Another product, a wearable from a company called Cicret, has been steadily getting more attention and interest in the past few months. The Cicret bracelet is said to contain a small Pico projector that casts a screen or user interface onto the wearer’s forearm. The wearer can then use the image touch screen, as shown in this video.
However, many people think the Cicret bracelet is a complete farce (see the comments in the below video). The video is obviously some kind of CGI mock-up even if the product does exist in some form.
But the interest in this product says something. People like the idea of the body — in this case the skin — becoming part of the technology product.
In the case of the Thync headset, creating the neurosignals without of the aid of the skin and bone might have required some far more intrusive method. Again, the Thync headset makes the wearer’s head an extension of the device.
Engineers should like the idea, too. With space constraints in new tech products tightening all the time as we try to fit more tech into smaller spaces, it would be a coup to offload some key functionality to some part of the body.
As it is now, the whole performance of features and functionality is usually completely contained within the physical constraints of the device.
If the Thync headset and the Cicret bracelet are any example, we may see more products in the future that leverage the human body in ever more creative ways.