Wearable tech is a broad field, and developers have taken advantage of the possibilities. The recent developments into VR have introduced a host of new wearable tech made to fit active lifestyles. The e-skin proposes a new way to tackle movement tracking for VR, AR, and MR purposes. However, I see it as being a scientific endeavor.
The Xenoma Team developed e-skin in Professor Takao Someya’s Lab at the University of Tokyo. With the backing of sound research, a stretchable electronic, movement tracking suit was born. This new zip-on suit offers a range of opportunities for VR games and content as well as athletic observation and physical analysis.
The e-skin appears to be a simple zip-up track shirt. However, the shirt contains a web of stretchable electronics that senses a wide range of body movements. It tracks these movements by using 14 strain sensors along the back and arms.
Additionally, the e-skin uses a “Hub” which tracks pitch, yaw, roll, and acceleration within a 6-axis system. The Hub attaches to the shirt externally as a separate unit. The Hub, in collaboration with the strain sensors, allow the user to track muscle use, form, speed, and even posture.
Uses for the e-skin range wildly from VR games to physical therapy and exercise. The developers didn’t market the shirt for a particular use. Instead, they marketed the shirt for everything. Xenoma hopes to see e-skin as an everyday wearable to change smart, wearable, movement tracking technology.
To pinpoint a few specific uses, Xenoma showcases the e-skin as a posture tracker, something we see a lot of on crowdfunding sites. They also show how you can improve your golf swing by tracking your form and analyzing it through an app. But the e-skin could be taken much further with tracking progress in physical therapy or monitoring exercise habits.
Simply put, this shirt is a shirt. It does not require you to change your lifestyle to fit a piece of smart technology. On the contrary, it enhances how you live. The e-skin is even machine washable! While smart glasses make you look like pretentious jerk, a shirt says that you’re a normal bloke.
This shirt presents a wonderful innovation in wearable tech that needs to happen. However, it needs to be affordable and the e-skin is not. The e-skin costs $500 on Kickstarter. But you should note that backers are buying into the early adoption phase. The current product needs development and programmers to play with it. Think of it like the Oculus Rift. It needs to be adopted by a community of developers to bring it to its full potential.
Unfortunately, the e-skin has not reached the popularity of the Oculus Rift as it has raised $30,000 of its $50,000 goal in seven days. While the project still has a lot of time, it needs to gain more traction to become an impactful product in the congested wearables realm. Be sure to check them out on Kickstarter. Let us know what you think about the new wearable! Is this the next step in wearables?