Programable Shirts, Biometrics and Security and a new way to measure fatigue

June 10

This week we will look at a new programable material that can be used for making clothing. We also discover a new lightweight, piston free, hydrogen engine and a biometric security system that allows for continuous monitoring of systems to improve security. Finally we examine a new way to measure fatigue. Particularly useful for drivers on long distance road trips.

Programable Shirts

MIT researchers have created a fibre with digital capabilities. The fibre is able to sense, store, analyze and infer activity once sewn into a shirt. Previous fibre were analog (i.e. carrying a continuous electrical signal) rather than digital (i.e. discrete bits of information can be encoded and processed as 0’s and 1’s).

The fibre was created by placing hundreds of square silicon microchips into a preform that was used to create a polymer fibre. The fibre is thin and flexible and can be passed through the eye of a needle. It can be currently be washed 10 times before breaking down. The individual elements of the fibre can be switched on and off without turning of all the other elements.

The fibre can currently hold a 0.48 megabit short movie and it contains a neural network of 1,650 connections. Once sewn into the armpit of a shirt, the fibre was able to collect the body temperature of the wearer for 4.5 hours and analyze how the data corresponded to different physical activities. Once trained on the data the fibre was able to determine with 96% accuracy what the wearer was doing.

Future applications for the fibre include, medical alerts in real time when significant health changes take place (e.g. heart murmur, respiratory decline). It may also be useful for athletes in training by delivering heart rate and muscle activation data.

Behavioral Biometrics and Security

New York based startup, Twosense has just raised their seed round (US$3 million) to develop biometric based continuous authentication of users of mobile devices, desktops and virtual machines.

Their system provides a software base layer that applies behavioral biometrics as an invisible and continuous authentication mechanism. Background observations of user biometric data are fused together to generate a data set for each user that characterizes a unique signature. Background motion, location and phone interactions make up the core input systems. Other identifiers include, right/left handedness, typing impact, pressure, fingertip size, muscular tremors, app usage profiles, commute patterns, daily routines and ballistocardiography (a measure of the ballistic forces generated by the heart).

This allows continuous monitoring of the system and detection of different users. The company claims that they can currently identify 95% of unauthorized users within 35 seconds. The system may allow systems to become password less in the future.

The company has already been awarded a US$2.42 million contract by the US Department of Defense. A leading orthopedic hospital, a government employee union and several enterprise customers are also trialing the product.

A simpler Hydrogen Engine

We have spoken about the potential for hydrogen as a fuel of the future. Israeli startup Aquarius Engines have unveiled their hydrogen fueled version of a two sided piston free engine.

The 10kg engine was originally invented in 2014 (currently used as a power generator) with the most recent version being released in May this year. The new model operates on 100% hydrogen and requires minimal maintenance. The engine has 20 components and 1 moving part.

Aquarius has an operating partnership with Nokia and is working with Japanese parts manufacturer TPR and Honda affiliate Musashi Seimitsu. Applications include Telecommunications Centers, Microgrids, Cars, Trucks, Drones and Yachts.

A Toilet that measures Fatigue

The Japanese have always had the most developed toilets. If you haven’t been there, do it one day. The experience is worth the trip. Now a service station in Kanagawa Prefecture has added the ability to measure fatigue to the multiple capabilities of their toilets.

The fatigue measurement Toilet contains the usual Japanese toilet amenities however it has an added panel that will measure fatigue. Once you press a button, the vibrating sensors in the toilet analyze pulse fluctuations that measure your level of tiredness. You are then prompted to select your age range and answer if you feel tired, not tired or somewhat tired. You then have to sit back and relax as the toilet calculates your tiredness via your backside.

The process takes 60 seconds and once finished, if you are tired the panel informs you that “in a fatigued state, the tension of the sympathetic nervous system increases and the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system decreases, so this toilet measures the fluctuation in beats and analyses the autonomic nervous system”. For tired drivers it then recommends a 10 to 20 minute break every 2 hours. The toilet then gives you your tiredness level.

Driving for long hours on a freeway can be very tiring. Overworked and schedule bound truck drivers are particularly prone to pushing too far. Irregular drivers are prone to keep driving without paying attention to how they feel. In the US every year approximately 100,000 crashes involve drowsy driving each year. A few minutes sitting and thinking may help improve this statistic.

Paying it Forward

If you have a start-up or know of a start-up that has a product ready for market please let me know. I would be happy to have a look and feature the startup in this newsletter. Also if any startups need introductions please get in touch and I will help where I can.

If you have any questions or comments please email me via my website or comment below.

I would also appreciate it if you could forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might be interested.

Till next week.