Wearable Tech for the Creative Crowd

It seems these days everyone is wearing some sort of fitness or activity tracker—and boasting about their achievements on social media. And with Apple almost certainly launching some kind of wrist-bound device very soon, wearable tech has become quite the buzzword. Many of the devices on the market are just high-tech pedometers that link up with a smartphone, or simply give us convenient access to information available on our computer. I started to wonder what devices might be of interest to a computer-bound creative professional like myself.

So many creative professionals these days spend a lot of time just sitting at a desk, often for hours and usually in a chair not designed for such marathon sitting sessions. Hunching over our computers, we can’t be doing our posture any favors. The Lift by Lumo Body Tech aims to rectify that with its anti-slouch device. Worn like a piece of jewelry—or even under your clothes—the Lift attaches with a magnet for ease of use. Information on calories burned and steps taken are sent to the smartphone app, but where Lumo Lift shines is information on the wearer’s posture. In the optional PowerUp mode, the device can vibrate to alert the wearer that they are slouching. I’m thinking this mode would come in handy in meetings where looking alert is key.

Speaking of looking alert, if you’re like me you probably have a hard time keeping your eyes open when the afternoon doldrums kick in. Working from home makes it way too easy to catch a quick nap (that turns into two hours wasted), but an anti-drowsy device might keep me on track. The Vigo in-ear device uses an infrared sensor and accelerometer to track your alertness level. It looks a little like a Bluetooth headset—which it actually doubles as—with the business end pointed toward your eye. It may look a little odd, but being able to control the sensitivity and have it “nudge” you when your eyes belie your “I’m totally alert” mindset could prove invaluable when trying to work in Photoshop! The Vigo even takes the data, such as when you’re least alert or active, and offers suggestions on changing your routine.

Some people aren’t afflicted like I am with falling asleep at the desk, but instead have a difficult time getting up in the morning. If you don’t like the shrill noise of an alarm clock—or have others nearby you’d rather not disturb—do yourself a favor and check out the Lark Silent Alarm Clock. The device wakes you gently using a vibration delivered by small wristband. The alarm is set and controlled via smartphone, but the vibration alarm activates even if the phone battery should die. In addition to the alarm function, the Lark has an audio alarm if the wristband battery dies and tracks sleep patterns.

If the idea of wearing a wristband while you sleep sounds uncomfortable, why not make your mattress wear the technology? That’s just where Misfit Labs’ Beddit device monitors and tracks your sleep from. In addition to sleep time and general sleep cycles, the device monitors heart rate and ambient sound, such as snoring (though there is no setting to turn down the volume on that). The general concept is to give you a quality night’s rest and have you awake refreshed. The Beddit tries to give you a head start by offering a set of sleep sounds to lull you to sleep and even wakes you when you are in a light sleep cycle.

Even if you’ve sat with perfect posture, had a great night’s sleep, and are wide awake, you might still need help remembering pesky passwords or other authentication safeguards. The Nymi wristband device looks set to help you out with that. Still in the pre-order phase, the sleek device provides personal authentication as unique as a fingerprint by using your finger and your heartbeat. Paired with an authorized smartphone, apps built to work with Nymi will be able to automatically identify you as the authorized user, literally just by you being you. Once authenticated, you’ll remain so until you take the Nymi wristband off. It’ll be interesting to see what apps include this functionality and how the future of logging in will look.

We might not have the jetpacks we were promised, yet, but this final wearable might temporarily placate our need for futuristic gadgets. Thalmic Labs’ Myo gesture control armband—which ships later this year—uses the electrical activity in your arm muscles to control your digital devices. Imagine controlling your next client presentation without clutching a remote or hovering over your keyboard, or shooting on location and controlling the lighting and camera shutter by gesturing in the air. [I often make a lot of hand gestures while working, especially on difficult projects, but none of them help control my devices or apps.] While they are currently working with developers to integrate the Myo’s gesture control into their apps, we can only imagine the things we might control. In fact, I’m (not-so-)secretly wishing this integration is in the next generation of Adobe Creative Cloud apps. I could be well on my way to teaching InDesign with a killer display like Tom Cruise had in Minority Report!

Posted on: July 25, 2014

Erica Gamet

Erica Gamet has been involved in the graphics industry for over 25 years. She is a speaker, writer, and trainer, focusing on Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Apple Keynote and iBooks Author, and other print- and production-related topics. She is a regular contributor to InDesign Magazine, tech edited How To Do Everything with Adobe InDesign CS4, and served as leader of the Denver InDesign User Group. After living as a nomad for almost a year, she recently put down roots in El Paso, Texas, where she hikes and bikes every chance she gets. Check out ericagamet.com to see all of Erica's upcoming events, tips and tricks, and workbooks.

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