This week at Fullpower Labs, we continue to drill down our accurate multi-year data set that comprises 250+ million nights of sleep. We found some new interesting weekly patterns within the previously identified seasonal patterns. This infographic shows weekly zoomed-in in heart rate. The Fullpower Sleeptracker platform captures continuous heart rate throughout the night.
Seasonal changes occur with lower heart rates in the summer and higher in the winter. This same pattern was also observed in this independent study in Japan. Our AI-powered analytics discovered this independently, and then we found the very interesting Japan paper //lnkd.in/gNpi7ub .
Notice week after week, there is a consistent weekly cycle with lower heart rates early in the week leading to higher heart rates on the weekends and then recovery. Interesting.
At Fullpower Labs, we analyzed our accurate multi-year data-set that comprises 250+ million nights of sleep. We found some interesting seasonal patterns. This infographic shows seasonal changes in heart rate. The Fullpower Sleeptracker platform captures continuous heart rate throughout the night completely non-invasively. Each individual fluctuation in the graph is a weekly max and min, the max being in general weekends (bedtime and wake-time discipline are more lax on weekends) and weekdays with a more disciplined schedule and less “distractions”.
This is what we can observe:
Seasonal changes occur with lower heart rates in the summer and higher in the winter. This same pattern was also observed in this independent study in Japan. Our AI-powered analytics discovered this independently and then we found the very interesting Japan paper.
There’s a consistent weekly cycle throughout the year with lower heart rates during the week and higher on the weekends (affected by time to bed, diet, and alcohol).
We see a big spike for New Year’s eve (time to bed, diet and alcohol).
There’s a significant dip after New Year’s, perhaps due to New Year’s resolutions (better diet, decreased alcohol, more disciplined sleep schedule), but eventually, it fizzles.
This week at Fullpower Labs (www.fullpower.com), we’ve been thinking about how much we sleep and don’t sleep each day of the week on average; so we did some distribution analysis. Most of our Sleeptracker (www.sleeptracker.com) sleepers have regulated work schedules which bind them to a fixed weekday schedule. However, there are still several differences. And of course, many of us tend to replenish our “sleep budget” on weekends.
The following image displays the statistically meaningful weekday patterns that we represent using the Sleeptracker AI-powered predictive analytics system.
Here at Fullpower Labs, we are thinking about last year’s Berkeley earthquake and have been doing some geographical distribution analysis. That earthquake hit right in the middle of our night, 2:39 am to be precise. Many of Sleeptracker’s users (www.sleeptracker.com) in Northern California were affected.
Here’s a graphical representation using the Sleeptracker AI-powered predictive analytics to show how that developed.
Sensors, sensors, everywhere sensors. In our clothes, our shoes, air conditioners, cars, diapers and beds. And what are all these sensors doing? They’re collecting and analyzing data of course – billions of discrete pieces of information every picosecond of every day so we can, a) make informed decisions and, b) automate all of the things connected by the IoT (Internet of Things). Soon sensors embedded in my pajamas will determine I’m dehydrated from having a little too much fun the night before, then send a message to the 3-D food printer in my kitchen to make a drink designed to replenish my electrolytes. Sensors will also heat my house the minute my car heads for home and tell me when my 16-year old is driving over the speed limit.
Sound far-fetched? It shouldn’t.
Recently, Senior Editor of Wired Magazine, Bill Wasik, reported, “A new device revolution is at hand: just as mobile phones and tablets displaced the once-dominant PC, wearable devices are poised to push smartphones aside.” In truth, the U.S. sensor market is expected to surpass $15 billion in 2016, causing On World to forecast that by 2017, global shipments of wearable, implantable, and mobile health and fitness devices will be up 552% from 2012.
Welcome to SensorWorld.
Now sensors and data analytics are preparing to go where ‘no man has gone before.’ Tackling an activity we spend a third of our lives ignoring: sleep! Why sleep? The National Sleep Foundation reports that 43% of Americans rarely get a good night’s sleep, and 60% experience a sleep problem almost every night. A recent Gallup poll revealed that since 1942, the amount of sleep we get has decreased roughly a half an hour per night and continues to trend downward. And the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) claims over 9 million Americans currently rely on a pharmaceutical to fall asleep.
According to technology pioneer, and inventor of the world’s first camera phone,Philippe Kahn, our growing problem with sleep began during the Industrial Revolution when “the mythical eight-hour sleep night” was fabricated to extract longer hours from factory workers. “Before the Industrial Revolution,” Kahn explained, “people were mostly sleeping in two shifts… nobody was really sleeping eight hours straight.” He continued, “The concept that we have to sleep in uninterrupted ways all the time, in a perfectly quiet environment, in a perfectly dark room… to me is a misconception and something that is misleading people to understand how to optimize their sleep.”
Kahn stumbled on the idea of “budgeting” sleep on a record-setting, two-man Transpacific sailing trip in 2009. With a two-person crew, each person is allowed to sleep for only brief periods of time. So Kahn decided to use his sailboat as a laboratory to determine the amount of sleep that produced the highest levels of alertness and energy. He discovered that number was twenty-six minutes. From that point on Kahn began modeling his sleep after his dog – short periods of deep rest with the ability to wake at a moment’s notice in a high state of “readiness,” and then quickly return to a deep sleep. Kahn claims that from an evolutionary standpoint this is the way humans were designed to sleep – they function best when sleep is “budgeted” for, and “optimized,” in the same way we do investment planning – only when it comes to sleep, returns are measured in terms of health and productivity.
Enter Kahn’s latest breakthrough in sensor and data analytics technology: the Smart Bed. The Smart Bed replaces the traditional “box-spring” with a sensor-based unit designed to monitor movement, body temperature and other metrics so we can optimize when and how much we sleep. The Smart Bed and Sleep Tracker was developed by Kahn’s company Fullpower – an enterprise focused on precise, non-invasive data monitoring and analysis. According to Kahn, sleep was a logical application for his company because of the number of hours humans spend sleeping, the mythology surrounding the need for a continuous eight-hour rest, and his personal revelations while sailing. Kahn observes, “Sleep is a bit like the deep ocean. We know it is there but we don’t understand it well. Modern science doesn’t understand sleep very well because it is very difficult to monitor sleep in a non-invasive way.” With the new Smart Bed, Kahn is poised to revolutionize the way humans rest and the effect this will have on efficiency, output, health and ultimately, longevity.
While Fullpower is pushing the frontiers of sleep technology, other companies are leveraging sensor and data analytics technologies to optimize other areas. Pixie Scientific, is embedding sensors into “smart diapers” that will allow diseases, dehydration and nutritional deficiencies to be detected in diapers. Intel’s new Smart Band tracks, monitors and analyzes the tremor patterns of Parkinson’s patients, and a new generation of smart pills and monitoring patches from Proteus are in the works. Peter Reinhart, Director of the Institute for Applied Life Sciences for the University of Massachusetts recently revealed that sensor technologies would soon shift from diagnosis to treatment, “As we get better and better at this, we’re going to find that new therapeutic options are going to be open to us. Identifying an Alzheimer’s patient at the [observable] behavioral point, when 70 percent of the brain mass has already disappeared, really limits the number of therapeutic options you can provide that patient. If you could identify someone like that seven or eight years earlier, it now opens up a very different array of intervention strategies.”
But, as Kahn points out, collecting and translating data is only half the story. The other half is connecting to devices, which will be automatically instructed by the analyzed data. Google’s Nest offers a home app that uses sensors, analytics and the internet to connect everything from your thermostat to your fire alarms and home security system. Apple has launched a similar IoT application called HomeKit. According to Kahn, the Smart Bed will have the ability to turn your bedroom thermostat down when your body is at rest and turn the heat back up when the bed senses you are waking. It will lift the shades in your bedroom, signal the hot water heater to ready the shower, and the coffee machine to prepare your coffee just the way you like it. And if that sounds like the stuff of science fiction, look again. Theo Priestly, technology strategist and Forbes contributor claims the IoT will be comprised of 50 billion interconnected devices before 2020 – representing a whopping $19 trillion market. Fitbit, smart watches, smart clothing, diapers and beds are just the beginning. Within the next five years, sensors will monitor, customize and automate everything.
Wearable technology is changing how we exercise, and even how we live—but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet
We live in an age where technology is intertwined into almost every aspect of our lives. Perhaps the only place it hasn’t yet completely conquered is our own bodies. That may be why mainstream culture greeted certain wearable technology like Google Glass with distrust and even outright hostility—after all, once technology is on us, isn’t it only a matter of time before it’s in us, or simply is us?
But Philippe Kahn, best known as the inventor of the camera phone, and now CEO and founder of Santa Cruz-based Fullpower Technologies Inc., thinks that attitude is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. More and more consumers are embracing gadgets like FitBits, smart watches, smart beds, and even fitness-tracking smart shoes for their potential to revolutionize the fitness and health care industries. These wearables can track every aspect of daily life, from sleep patterns to steps taken to heart rate, calories burned, body weight, and time spent standing.
Meanwhile, Kahn’s company is already working on all sorts of ideas that will help usher in the next era of wearable tech. Why is he betting the industry will continue to grow? Because knowledge is power. When it comes to improving our health and lifestyles, extremely individualized data can go a long way. And when we decide to make a change and do something about it, wearable technology can provide immediate feedback on our progress.
“It’s simple and amazingly efficient,” Kahn tells GT. Wearable technology provides the kind of information that can get results fast, he says, which feeds its popularity. “Without any other changes, if Ms. and Mr. Everyone are just a little more active and sleep just a little more, health immediately improves.”
Whereas current fitness wristbands and watches collect data mainly through an accelerometer that tracks step-related movements or lack thereof, devices of the future will be able to distinguish among many different and diverse types of exercise, as well as provide data about blood sugar, hydration, hormone levels, and beyond. Additionally, whereas a current concern among wearable technology users and makers is a lack of privacy, the wearable tech of the future will use authentication techniques that are unique to every individual, such as heart rhythm.
Current wearable fitness trackers are fairly limited in the types of exercise they can track, and this is especially true if the exercise doesn’t involve taking steps. The next generation of wearable tech will not only be able to “learn” and measure new exercises performed by the wearer, it will also be able to more accurately track activities like weight lifting, swimming, and even something like playing an instrument that while usually performed stationary is nonetheless a legitimate workout for the upper body. Future fitness wearables will also be able to instantly access the wearer’s diet and medical history and even be able to “critically think” and provide advice. Smart sports gear is also just around the corner, such as a basketball that has an implanted computer and can track made baskets and provide feedback on shooting form, or a football that can help aspiring quarterbacks throw a tighter spiral.
PICTURE OF HEALTH
Exercise and sport aren’t the only frontiers for wearable technologies. They show even greater potential to improve personal health on a large scale because they provide a larger amount of more accurate data to a doctor or health care provider. As long as the patient consistently wears his or her health-and-fitness-tracking wearable technology, a doctor can easily use the data from the device to get a more accurate picture of the patient’s lifestyle. This will allow doctors to make better decisions and diagnoses than ever before. Eventually, wearable technology will allow doctors to treat patients remotely, without having to see them in person—transforming health care for travelers, those who find it difficult or impossible to visit a doctor’s office, and pretty much everyone else.
Some examples of cutting-edge health care wearable technology include body-worn sensors and contact lenses that monitor blood sugar levels and could revolutionize the care and management of diabetes, an increasingly common condition in America. Companies are also developing smart bras that track breast health, as well as wearable technology that could help a person quit smoking by detecting cravings and then releasing medication before the smoker falls off the wagon and lights up a cigarette. There is even ingestible technology being developed that is powered by stomach acid and could monitor the timing and consistency of when a person takes their medications. This could provide doctors with unprecedented information about the adherence to and effectiveness of prescribed therapies.
Wearable technology, however, is still in its infancy, or, at most, its toddlerhood. And there are plenty of growing pains.
One challenge is the drive to constantly improve the accuracy of the data these devices provide. When current wearable technology can only provide estimates on steps taken, calories burned, or anything else, it simply isn’t good enough. This can be a major problem, especially if health care providers are basing recommendations for medication, exercise, diet, and lifestyle on the accuracy of this data.
“Accuracy is important, as that is key work that Fullpower focuses on more than any other company on the planet,” says Kahn. But for most current applications of wearable technology, he believes this issue shouldn’t be overblown. “Remember that the benefits come from being more active and sleeping a little longer, not necessarily understanding every detail of everything.”
At this point, there is little industry regulation and no governing body to make independent verifications of wearable technology data, and to make sure standards are upheld. Greater industry regulation with independently verified data will go a long way toward legitimizing the entire industry. “We sure hope this happens soon, as it will make Fullpower’s technology shine even more,” says Kahn. “My understanding is that there are a couple of labs who are evaluating the business opportunity.”
There is also the issue of interpretation of all this data—without it, the information is basically useless. “It’s not just quantified self-measuring, it’s using big data science to give meaningful insights,” explains Kahn. “For example, Fullpower’s new Sleeptracker® Smartbed will soon start being deployed by major bedding manufacturers and will provide lots of insights and tools to improve sleep.” Kahn says the insight the smart bed provides is based on data from more than 500 million nights of detailed recorded sleep, and calls it “the greatest sleep study ever.”
Wearable technology not only needs to be stylish, in Kahn’s view, it also needs to be at least somewhat invisible or at least seamlessly integrated into a person’s “look.” Making a one-size-fits-all product that also has universal aesthetic appeal is no small challenge. Just consider how many different companies sell widely diverse products that are all essentially either a shoe, a shirt, a hat, or anything else wearable.
“We believe that wearable tech and fashion are tied at the hip. We are focused on making non-invasive technology that is green, invisible and beautifully discreet,” says Kahn.
Battery life is another challenge. “Fullpower is working on energy harvesting off the host. It’s no different than getting solar energy to work in the home,” says Kahn. His company recently launched the Movado smartwatch that can run for over two years without a charge. Whether it’s using body heat, body movement, or some other source, renewable energy is a big part of the future of wearable technology.
As bright as the future may be for wearable fitness technology, the possibilities for merging man and machine on a larger scale may be even more astounding. For example, Lockheed Martin has developed an unpowered exoskeleton that makes heavy tools feel almost weightless, as if they are being used in zero gravity. This kind of technology could revolutionize many industries including construction, demolition, disaster cleanup, and first-responder situations. Still other exoskeletons are being used to help paraplegics regain the use of their legs and walk again. There is even wearable technology being developed that turns sound into patterns of vibration felt on the skin from a garment that, with training, can help the deaf “hear” the world around them in a similar way to how Braille turns letters and words on a page into tactile representations that allow the blind to “see.” Some people are even pushing the boundaries of our senses by implanting magnets into their fingertips in order to be able to “feel” electromagnetism.
The incredible neuroplasticity of the human brain allows for all of this remarkable technology to be seamlessly integrated into the brain’s representation of the body over time. For example, ask any experienced surfer where the body ends and they will all tell you that eventually the surfboard becomes an extension of the self. To them, the body does not end at the foot, it ends on the wave.
All of this seemingly space-age technology being closer to our doorstep than most of us thought begs the question: How much technology is too much technology? But the reality is that technology is in many ways the ultimate embodiment of everything it means to be human, showcasing our ingenuity, ambition and creativity. Wearable technology is only the latest expression of an age-old truth: We have always been natural born cyborgs, using technology to transcend ourselves and our biology.
An employee of Fullpower Technologies, rigged for a sleep study in the company’s lab. Right: The “head box” transfers input from body sensors to a base station that processes the data to create a personal polysomnogram. Photographs by Ian Allen for Fortune
Large-scale computing power, combined with input from millions of fitness trackers, could help unlock the mysteries of our national insomnia.
I’m playing tennis with Marissa Mayer, and oddly, the Yahoo YHOO -2.07% CEO is wearing a pearlescent purple gown and sipping from a teacup. Her dress is just long enough to obscure her feet, so she appears to be floating across the baseline. As she strikes the ball, she tips her chin skyward and laughs in slow motion.
Meanwhile, I’m perched in the lotus position atop a manta ray that’s hovering above the ground like some kind of Landspeeder. And I’m panicking. How can I keep my balance and still hit the ball—especially with my shirt collar pulling at my neck the way it is? Can’t swing my racket. I jerk my head left. Then right. I claw at my jawline. The ball has cleared the net, and it’s headed my way. If only. I could. Just. Move. My head.
And poof. She’s gone. I open my eyes in a strange room. It’s pitch dark and completely silent, but I manage to find my bearings. Santa Cruz, Calif. Breathing heavily, I carefully disentangle a gaggle of wires twisted around my neck and roll over to glance at the clock. Just after 3 a.m.
This scene, I now know, was merely one of 18 REM-sleep interruptions that I experienced between 11:18 p.m. and 6:16 a.m. during one long February night. What a strange setting for the only dream I’ve ever had about a chief executive: in a laboratory, tethered to a byzantine apparatus designed to monitor my brain activity as well as every breath, eye movement, muscle twitch, and heartbeat.
Let me explain. Like you and probably everyone you know, I’ve always been confounded by my sleep routine. Why do I one morning rise ready to tackle the day and the next seem barely able to lift my head? How much rest can I be getting if I wake up sideways with the covers on the floor and my wife in the guest room? Most important, what can I do better? I don’t want a magic pill. I’ve tried those. I know the rules of thumb: less stress, more exercise, better diet, no afternoon caffeine, put down the damn phone. But I’d kill for a personalized formula.
So I subjected myself to a polysomnography test, or PSG, hoping to unravel some of the mysteries of the night. My procedure was administered in the offices of Fullpower Technologies, one floor down from where I had spent most of the evening talking with the company’s founder and CEO, Philippe Kahn.
A French expatriate who grew up in Paris, Kahn, 63, is a Silicon Valley oracle whose track record predates the web. He founded Borland Software (acquired by Micro Focus) MCFUF -1.09% in the mid-1980s, followed by Starfish software (Motorola) and LightSurf Technologies (VeriSign) VRSN -1.53% . In 1997, while anticipating the birth of his daughter, he paired a state-of-the-art Casio CSIOY 0.51% camera with a Motorola Startac and became, he claims, the first person to transmit a digital photo over cellular airwaves. He’s also been a leader in wearable technologies.
Philippe Kahn says Fullpower is “operating a huge sleep experiment unlike anything anyone has ever done.” Photograph by Ian Allen for Fortune
That’s precisely the focus of Fullpower, which licenses its software to other companies. Nearly five dozen framed patents for wearable-related software and devices hang on the wall in the company’s lobby. The oldest dates to 2005, long before tracking steps became such a phenomenon. In the conference room there’s an assembly of chairs and tables around a full-size bed, making obvious Kahn’s latest obsession.
Fullpower built the lab about a decade ago to capture data from sleep patterns. Of course, test subjects don’t typically snooze deeply with wires glued to their skulls, chests, legs, and arms. But almost everyone manages to at least nod off for a while, and the data that subjects generate are valuable and often surprising. “What we found early on is that sometimes you sleep less and feel more refreshed,” Kahn says. “It’s because you woke up in the light part of the sleep cycle.” The insight led him to develop a sleep-cycle alarm that could determine the best time to alert a person within a certain window. “Sometimes it’s better to get up at 10 of seven than at seven,” he says.
Kahn insists that he’s on the cusp of many more such discoveries, and he’s intent on dispelling some of the conventional wisdom that stresses people out. “People say that if you can’t sleep for eight hours without waking up, something’s wrong with you. That’s such a fallacy,” he says. “Before electricity, people used to sleep in two shifts. That’s how I behave. Sleep for four hours, get up and do an hour and a half of work, and then another four.” He’s also skeptical of the notion that a quiet room is the best environment for shut-eye and dismisses the perceived deleterious effects of repeated rousing. “The sign of good sleep hygiene may not be how many times you wake up, but rather how rapidly you fall back to sleep. Sleep should be like hunger. Eat only when you’re hungry and until you’re satisfied.”
Fullpower has oceans of data to back Kahn’s theories. The company provides the sleep-tracking and activity-monitoring software for the Jawbone UP and Nike Fuel NKE -1.09% wearable devices as well as a new line of Swiss-made smartwatches and the forthcoming Simmons Sleeptracker Smartbed. The products transmit a mother lode of information (with users’ consent) to Kahn’s team. He thinks that by combining qualitative lab data and quantitative real-world data with machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other analytics technologies, he can unlock the secrets that so many of us walking dead are looking for: a better night’s sleep. “We’re operating a huge sleep experiment, worldwide, unlike anything anyone has ever done,” he says. “We have 250 million nights of sleep in our database, and we’re using all the latest technologies to make sense of it.”
Kahn is not alone. He’s part of a movement of brilliant entrepreneurs, data scientists, engineers, and academics who are looking at demographics, geographies, and lifestyles, and even into our genomes. They’re the beneficiaries of a historic explosion in sleep data, and they’re using many of the same technologies that are busily decoding some of the world’s other great mysteries. Tiny sensors, big data, analytics, and cloud computing can predict machine breakage, pinpoint power outages, and build better supply chains. Why not put them to work to optimize the most valuable complex system of all, the human body?
It’s not an exaggeration to say lack of sleep is killing us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls it a public health epidemic and estimates that as many as 70 million Americans have a sleep disorder. Sleep deprivation has been linked to clinical depression, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving causes 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries annually in the U.S. There are 84 sleep disorders, and some 100 million people—80% of them undiagnosed—suffer from one of them in particular: Obstructive sleep apnea, generally indicated by snoring, costs the U.S. economy as much as $165 billion a year, according to a Harvard Medical School study. That’s more than asthma, heart failure, stroke, hypertension, or drunk driving. And the study doesn’t account for tangential effects, like loss of intimacy and divorce. BCC Research predicts that the global market for sleep-aid products—everything from specialty mattresses and high-tech pillows to drugs and at-home tests—will hit $76.7 billion by 2019.
The financial upside for anyone who can crack the sleep code is obvious. And so the race is on. “I believe that 15 years from now, if we do this right, we can actually tackle epidemics like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, and any number of lifestyle diseases,” says Kahn. “We’re going to help people live longer and better lives.”
Using a wristband to collect sleep data, an app to help learn new habits, and online tutorials for tips, Observer corespondent Alice Fisher works on getting better sleep with the Jawbone Up.
“I used the Sleepio app in conjunction with a Jawbone UP wristband. The band tracks movement and sleep, information that’s stored in your smartphone and online in your Sleepio account. It’s very easy to use. Wear the wristband to collect data and add any extra explanatory information into a simple online diary along with your subjective experience of last night’s slumber. Sleepio analyses it for you.”
BMR reviewed its first Jawbone UP in August 2013. Fresh out of the box, it was impossible to miss the play taken from Intel’s book, which was the statement imprinted inside the band that this was the “UP by Jawbone with MotionX”. Combined with the copyright notices in the phone app, we had all the motivation we needed to start the journey to learn just what MotionX is all about.
That journey quickly led to Philippe Kahn, CEO of Fullpower, the makers of MotionX. If that’s a familiar name it’s with good reason – Philippe is the former CEO of Borland, founder of Starfish Technologies, inventor of the camera phone, leader of the Pegasus Racing sailing team, and holder of endurance sailing records (a pursuit that calls for performance and decision making optimization under conditions of serious sleep deprivation). There’s plenty more, but back to our topic.
What follows is based on recent exchanges with Fullpower intended to bring greater clarity to what MotionX does and why it’s important. Currently, MotionX solutions can be found in the Jawbone UP and UP24, Nike+ running products, and the MotionX 24/7 app found in the iPhone App Store (where it alternates between first and second place on Medical category’s top seller list). Let’s start by digging into the technology’s various facets:
Wearable device algorithms.
Apps for iOS, Android, and Windows.
Cloud infrastructure to support interaction, data retrieval and presentation, updates, etc.
On their own, fitness bands contain a fair amount of miniaturized technology which typically includes processors, an accelerometer, a battery, and an antenna, usually Bluetooth. That’s just the hardware. Software is required to make these components function and work together properly to support power management, communications, and critically, data interpretation and collection.
On its own, an accelerometer can detect movements and send those signals to be processed and stored. From this point it gets complicated in a big way – particularly if accuracy and reliability are high priorities. The key challenge is how to interpret the signals coming from the accelerometer and distinguishing between a stride, a run, a handshake, or another Dorito chip.
It turns out that Fullpower has mastered this interpretive process the hard way – with time and painstaking effort. To begin with, activity monitors are usually worn on the wrist or arm, or carried in a pocket. As a result, products like the Jawbone UP must be carefully calibrated or “tuned” in order to accurately interpret and estimate what the wearer is doing.
There are different approaches to solving this problem. One way is to adapt commonly available algorithms like those designed to protect laptop hard drives in the event of a fall; another is to partner with research institutes which have a focus area on this topic and then adapt their work; and a third is Fullpower’s.
In broad, suitable-for-publication terms, Fullpower has invested many years of effort developing a rigorous approach to measuring and estimating natural human motion. Part of this process is includes video footage, inertial measurement unit (IMU) recordings and other undisclosed techniques, all performed 24/7, because sleep has to be studied too. These data are compared to the data being reported by the activity monitor with the net effect that this comparison and verification process greatly reduces errors in the estimation process by eliminating questions like “did the subject just twitch their arm or did they roll over while asleep?” Or, “is the subject running or are they just shaking their leg during a meeting?”. The video analysis can be conclusive and this knowledge can be factored (literally) into the algorithm development process. Repeating this process over the course of years, with many different people, activities, and situations yields a high level of precision backed by a very large and unique data set which only gets more accurate over time. This process doesn’t just apply to tracking steps – it plays a central role in developing sleep cycle alarms and more.
As an aside, another result of this kind of original research is a substantial intellectual property (IP) portfolio of early, seminal patents that have been awarded with many more awaiting approval. In Fullpower’s case, these patents cover more than just algorithms – they go on to include wearable devices, health/fitness/medical patents, sensor-related patents, and more. The net effect is that Fullpower has created a significant asset that can be licensed to produce current, ongoing revenue streams that complement the rest of the company’s efforts. In light of the early stage of wearable technology, this is a significant achievement.
Once precision has been assured and the required computational power has been designed to minimize power consumption, the question turns to how to offload the data that has been collected and stored on the device. Today, some devices require a cable connector to transfer data to a phone or computer. Others can use a cable or Bluetooth, and yet others use Bluetooth alone. It’s possible that the low energy feature of Bluetooth v4.0 will become the standard of choice for activity monitors, but we’re still early in the evolution of these products. The MotionX platform is compatible with cable- and Bluetooth-based channels.
We’re now ready to leave the device and move through the rest of ecosystem starting with phone apps. Innovation in this part of wearable technology is alive and well – in the course of its review process BMR always includes an analysis of the associated phone app. Some are rudimentary, others are considerably more sophisticated. Regardless of the features there are some basic functions that need to be fulfilled, including retrieval of data from the device, displaying it on the phone, delivering updates, and possibly provide connections to social media. Oh, and this all has to be done reliably while maintaining an engaging and satisfying user experience. Regardless, apps are an essential part of the experience and form another important part of the overall wearable ecosystem.
From the phone, the data are sent to a cloud-based platform that does the heavy lifting of managing user accounts and their associated data, and generally serving as the coordinating management platform for these devices once they’re in the wild.
MotionX is an end-to-end ecosystem designed expressly for wearable technology. It provides all the primary functions required to make a wearable technology product work, and it does so with a very high degree of accuracy and reliability. In the course of developing MotionX, Fullpower has amassed a substantial intellectual property (IP) portfolio, and its value is likely to increase as wearable technology continues to expand its footprint in our daily lives. If MotionX is another home run, it would be perfectly at home with the rest of Philippe Kahn’s successes.