Tag Archives: wearable devices

Kaivan Karimi talks IoT and wearables at Designers of Things

Designers of Things — a two-day conference dedicated to the explosive and exciting potential of wearable tech, 3D printing and the Internet of Things — kicked off this morning with a session from Kaivan Karimi. During his presentation, the Atmel VP and GM of Wireless Solutions broke down the evolution of technologies necessary for wearable devices to succeed.


Undoubtedly, wearables have emerged as an extremely hot topic within the technology industry with big name enterprises and small startups alike working endlessly to develop the next high-profile device. Wearables, which are not only being integrated into smart fashion and allowing users to access technology hands-free, are now accelerating the self-quantification movement and paving the way for the upcoming always-on healthcare revolution. Using specific examples from the smartwatch and smart fashion realms, Karimi educated event attendees on the underlying hardware, software, sensing, connectivity, and security technologies needed to make wearables happen, and get them integrated into already existing broader networks.

Karimi began the session by making it clear that wearables are a subset of the IoT, which is the wider umbrella of connected things. When explaining the size of this umbrella, Karimi stated, “The Internet of Things is like sunlight, it covers everything.” He emphasized to attendees that the IoT will go on to impact all aspects of industry and commerce, therefore migrating to devices that collect data: “If you can’t track it, you can’t improve it”.

Despite the fact that it is a mere subset in today’s ever-evolving, constantly-connected world, Karimi stressed that the wearable tech space is not a single entity. “Wearables are not a single segment. There are different categories with different requirements,” he urged. High-end or local processing wearables include smartwatches that run standalone systems such as Android Wear, Tizen for the Gear line of devices and the upcoming Apple Watch. Mid-range wearables are more along the lines of smartphone accessories, which use thin client models and rely on applications on the smartphone. The third category, low-end or limited devices, usually boast no display or feature a limited user interface and act more as a sensor aggregator. This category includes devices such as Fitbit, Polar Loop and other fitness trackers.

“Wearables is one of the edge nodes of the IoT infrastructure,” Karimi continued as he put wearables in perspective of the IoT. Karimi then went on to share several reasons as to why wearables have experienced immediate adoption so far — seamless and ability to integrate into our lives; ease-of-use; inexpensiveness; health and fashion-focused; the potential to save lives; and, the quantified self movement. “The value created by IoT is not just dollars and cents but how we live our lives,” he added.


However, as more devices become connected particularly those adorned to bodies, security and privacy concerns will arise. According to Karimi, this can and will inhibit the growth of wearable tech and IoT as a whole; therefore, how we secure the devices will play an integral role in the development of IoT. “Security and privacy are major growth inhibitors of wearables,” explained Karimi.

Karimi then depicted a time in the relatively near future where hackers could open your doors, access your neighborhood’s streetlights, as well as take control of your toaster oven. Creating the necessary hierarchal gateways to protect access to connected devices and its data will be key in a connected tomorrow. “When it comes to security for the Internet of Things, stakes are much more severe,” he told the Designers of Things audience.

Major advancemetns in technologies like semiconductors are attributed to growth of wearable tech, Karimi revealed. Semiconductors are getting faster, cheaper, smaller and more powerful yet less power consuming, which make them well-suited for smaller devices that need to be on all-day. But one of wearables biggest allies will be contextual computing, which Karimi revealed “will be the driving force behind the next wave of technology.”

The use of big data, sensor fusion, personal history, GPS and social media will also enable computers to know who we are which in turn will let them better serve us. “The future of data analytics will see a shift from reporting to prediction,” Karimi said. “In the future, your devices will know you better than your spouse knows you or you even know yourself.”


Wearables aren’t limited to smartwatches and fitness trackers; in fact, Karimi teased the audience with new form factors coming down the chain. “New form factors are on the way. It’s like pills you take to authenticate yourself,” he noted.

Karimi went on to conclude with a discussion around wearables and IoT in the healthcare setting. “The future of healthcare with wearables is the always-on revolution,” he told attendees. “In order for IoT and wearables to work in healthcare, you have to link the databases.”


So what does the future have in store for wearables? According to Karimi, over the next four to five years, we can expect that wearables will:

  • Be here for the long-haul
  • Enable a variety of new services
  • Allow medicine to become more personalized
  • Revolutionize healthcare
  • Focus on prevention vs. disease management


According to analysts at ABI Research, over the next five years businesses will integrate into their wellness plans more than 13 million wearable devices with embedded wireless connectivity. Wearable tech also ties into the rapidly evolving Internet of Things, which refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. Today, it’s estimated there are nearly 10 billion devices in the world connected to the Internet, a figure expected to triple to nearly 30 billion devices by 2020. The inherent versatility of Atmel’s microcontrollers and radio chips have made our silicon a favorite of Makers and engineers. As allude to in Kaivan Karimi’s presentation, Atmel is smack dab in the middle of the wearable revolution, with a comprehensive portfolio of versatile microcontrollers (MCUs) that power a wide range of platforms and devices.

A look back at the evolution of wearable tech

Wearable technology is undoubtedly one of the latest trends to proliferate our digital world. While wearables might seem like an innovation entirely out of the 21st century, humans have been tinkering with these gizmos and gadgets long before the days of Pebble, Jawbone, Fitbit and Google Glass.

In fact, the definition of “wearable computers” can date all the way back to the 16th century when humans first starting wearing time-keeping devices. However, due to the differing definitions of both “wearable” and “computer,” there remains varying beliefs as to who devised the first computer with which we adorned our bodies. For some, the first wearable (an abacus ring) arrived on the scene early as between 1368 and 1644 during Qing Dynasty era, while others believe it was either the first wristwatch by Breguet for the Queen of Naples in 1810, or the covert timing devices hidden in shoes to cheat the game of roulette by Thorp and Shannon in the 1960s.

The 1920s saw the debut of digital mechanical watches such as the Cortebert Mechanical Digital, the ancestors of today’s high-tech materials and innovative designs. Then, nearly a half of a century later in 1972, Hamilton introduced the world’s first fully electronic wristwatch with a digital display, the Pulsar P1 Limited Edition Watch. By the end of 1970s, the price of the average digital watch dropped drastically and come 1980, these became nothing more than a mere novelty. During this time, however, consumers were introduced to the revolutionary Sony Walkman, which remains arguably one of the first real success stories in the wearable world with over 385 million units sold worldwide.

Throughout the evolution of what many would dub “archaic” wearables, the world came to love (and sometimes strongly dislike) these devices — many ahead of their time, while some real duds. Fortunately, we still remember them, and today, we pay homage to some of wearable technology’s predecessors… before the days of versatile microcontrollers.

Abacus Ring, 1600s

Developed in the Qing Dynasty era (1644-1911), the ring features a 1.2cm x 0.7cm abacus that sits on the finger. While the ring may not be able to make phone calls, it does prove that wearable tech may not be a modern-day concept as many would think.

(Source: ChinaCulture.org)

(Source: ChinaCulture.org)

Breguet Wrist Watch, 1810

Breguet created the first wrist watch for the Queen of Naples, Caroline Murat. 


Protona Minifon P55 Recorder Wristwatch, 1955

This wristwatch got a little closer to true spy action, except for that conspicuous carrying case.

(Source: Gizmag)

(Source: Gizmag)

Atsuko Tanaka Electric Dress, 1956

The center of attention at exhibitions, this burqa-like costume consisted of electrical wires and colored lightbulbs. Inspired by a pharmaceutical advertisement illuminated by neon lights, the bulky garment set out to express the body’s circuitry, while acting like a costume.

(Source: WilliamGibsonBoard.com)

(Source: WilliamGibsonBoard.com)

ARPA Sword of Damocles, 1968

Created by computer scientist Ivan Sutherland, the Sword of Damocles was the first pioneering example of a virtual and augmented reality head-mounted display system.

(Source: www.io9.com)

(Source: io9.com)

Keith Taft’s George Blackjack Shoe Computer, 1972

Weighing fifteen pounds and the size of three large textbooks, the world’s first microcomputer-powered blackjack cheating device was fitted around the waist, surrounded by batteries and controlled by switches attached to big toes inside custom made shoes.

(Source: www.VegasTripping.com)

(Source: VegasTripping.com)

Hamilton Pulsar P1 Limited Edition, 1972

The very first electronic digital watch to reach the market made its in April 1972 for $2,100 — about $11,400 today.


Hamilton Pulsar Calculator Watch, 1976

Only a few years after the launch of LED wristwatches, several manufacturers like Hamilton showed off prototypes for models containing fully-functional calculators.

(Source: watchismo.blogspot.com)

(Source: watchismo.blogspot.com)

Hewlett-Packard HP-01, 1977

While this wrist instrument may have resemble an ordinary digital watch, it was in fact much smarter than its fellow pocket calculators. The HP device performed more than three dozen functions to manipulate and interrelate time, calendar and numeric data. With six interactive functions (time, alarm, timer/stopwatch, date/calendar, calculator and memory), the HP-01 had 28 tiny keys that the user operated with a stylus built into the bracelet.

(Source: HP)

(Source: HP)

Texas Instruments Star Wars Watch, 1977

TI revolutionized the digital wristwatch industry with the introduction of the first under-$20 LED watch in 1976. Soon, the company produced licensed LED watches that tied-in with the release of movies like Star Wars the following year.

(Source: www.newturfers.com)

(Source: newturfers.com)

Sony Walkman, 1979

Kids, way before the days of your MP3, Sony debuted its iconic portable cassette tape players on July 1, 1979 for $150.

(Source: www.dvice.com)

(Source: dvice.com)

Casio Game-10, 1980

Who remembers playing mini-versions of Legend of Zelda or Super Mario on their wrists?


Steve Mann’s WearComp, 1981

While still in high school, the revolutionary Maker designed a backpack-mounted computer to control photographic equipment. Mann felt that humans that computers and computing environments should be available anywhere to a person, not just at a specifically designed computer terminal.

(Source: TechHive)

(Source: TechHive)

Seiko TV Watch, 1982

Now this watch did something rather innovative for 1982 — it allowed wearers to view live TV on a tiny LCD screen embedded into the watch face.

(Source: www.visions4.net)

(Source: visions4.net)

Puma RS Computer Shoe Pedometers, 1986

These Puma running shoes were affixed with pedometer computers that could be reset and would count up time and distance that could be then downloaded to the game port on the Apple II.

(Source: www.digibarn.com)

(Source: digibarn.com)

Reflection Technology Private Eye, 1989

The Private Eye head-mounted display scanned a vertical array of LEDs across the visual field using a vibrating mirror.

(Source: CNET)

(Source: CNET)

First Wrist Computer, 1994

Designed by Edgar Matias and Mike Ruicci of the University of Toronto, this “wrist computer” presented an alternative approach to the emerging HUD + chord keyboard wearable. The system was built from a modified HP 95LX palmtop computer and a half-QWERTY keyboard. With the keyboard and display modules strapped to the operator’s forearms, text could be entered by bringing the the wrists together and typing.

(Source: www.edgarmatias.com)

(Source: edgarmatias.com)

First Linux Wristwatch, 1998

The “Father of Wearable Computing” Steve Mann invented, designed and built the world’s first Linux wristwatch.

(Source: Wikipedia)

(Source: Wikipedia)

The Trekker, 1998

In terms of size, this device is a slight improvement of Steve Mann’s pioneering work, but still lacked the appropriate geek chicness. Produced by Rockwell, the Trekker was a rugged wearable computer based on a 120 MHz Pentium with built-in DSP support for speech interface and a monocular head-worn display.

(Source: TechHive)

(Source: TechHive)

Digital Eye Glass EyeTap Augmediated Reality Goggles, 1998

A step closer to today’s smart glasses…

(Source: Flickr)

(Source: Flickr)

MicroOptical TASK-9, 2000

Even closer… Founded in 1995 by Mark Spitzer, the company produced several patented designs which were bought by Google after the company closed in 2010. One such design was the TASK-9, a wearable computer that is attachable to a set of glasses.

(Source: CNET)

(Source: CNET)

WatchPad, 2000

IBM first prototyped a watch running Linux in 2000, and quickly evolved into the WatchPad, made in collaboration with Japan’s Citizen Watch Company.

(Source: Engadget)

(Source: Engadget)

Casio Wrist Camera, 2002

The Casio Wrist Camera was the first wristwatch with an integrated digital camera. Sure, it only captured 120-by-120-pixel photos in grayscale, but the fact that Casio crammed a working camera into a watch turned many heads.


Xybernaut Poma, 2002

The Xybernaut Poma Wearable PC was another foray into the head-mounted display market that launched after Steve Mann’s gadgets and way before Google Glass. The wearable comprised of a 309g Windows CE device, running on the Hitachi 128MHz Risc processor with 32MB of RAM.

(Source: TechRadar)

(Source: TechRadar)

Fossil Wrist PDA, 2003

Essentially be a watch running a read-only version of the Palm OS…

(Source: TechRadar)

(Source: TechRadar)

Whatever the future may hold, rest assured we’ll continue to power a number of these next-gen devices — from the Atmel | SMART SAM4S Cortex-M4 being embedded in smartwatches to ATmega32U4 MCUs used to design some wild FLORA-based creations. Interested in learning more? Discover how the computers that we wear will help you work, play and just about everything else in our latest white paper here.

Atmel’s Tech on Tour mobile trailer hits the road

Atmel’s Tech on Tour (ToT) crew has tirelessly crisscrossed the globe for many years, offering hands-on technical training for a wide range of company products. This month, Atmel kicked off a new ToT era with a tricked-out mobile trailer that will be hitting the road this month.

The versatile mobile training center allows visitors to interact with a plethora of next-gen Atmel tech, including AVR and ARM based microcontrollers, automotive and crypto solutions, microprocessors, Internet Of Things (IoT) products, wearable devices, 3D printers, touch sensors and XSense.

In addition to hands-on training, Atmel will leverage the fact that it is at the heart of the Maker Movement and well positioned at the center of IoT innovation. From my perspective, the IoT will be led by a rising generation of tinkerers, inventors and innovators. These are dedicated people who are working out of universities, garages and small companies. We will go and meet them.


Our mobile Tech on Tour trailer provides a familiar setting for customers, engineers and Makers, as well as designers, students, professor and executives. We want to meet people in the market working on projects like electronics, robotics, transportation, alternative energy and sustainable agriculture. That is why we are offering hands-on training and access to soldering irons, along with a chance to brainstorm about the future together.


To be sure, the ToT trailer is quite a scalable platform, functioning not only as a mobile training center, a showroom and conference center, but also as a trade show booth, entertainment center, content creation platform, executive meeting center, recruitment platform, tech support center and employee engagement engine.


On top of that, we are partnering with all global distribution partners, customers, third parties, Makers, government officials and universities to bring Atmel to the market. We are very excited about the concept and the pull from the market and distribution partners has been very promising.

Note: You can request a ToT stop at your location here.