Neil Gupta

Sensors Everywhere

439 words • 2 minutes to read

Today, I came across the Lumo Lift, a fitness tracker and posture sensor available for preorder. It looks like a neat little device, and assuming it works, the posture tracking/correction system is a very cool and useful feature. However, two things stood out to me.

Yet Another Sensor

The Lumo Lift is designed to be worn near your clavicle or shoulders. It tracks posture, steps taken, and calories burned. I also have a Withings Pulse in my pocket that tracks steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned, altitude climbed, heart rate, oxygen saturation, and sleep patterns. My iPhone can also track most of the same variables thanks to a multitude of clever apps. Google and Samsung (and presumably Apple) are working hard to place additional sensors on us. Soon, we will be wearing sensors on our feet, waist, wrist, chest, neck, and eyes. All of this data will feed back to our smartphones, which will then push the data to the cloud for analysis. Every minute variable of our lifestyles will be trackable. Longitudinal research studies will cost pennies to conduct. The possibilities are both fascinating and scary at the same time.

Given that we will be loaded with sensors to the hilt and bordering on cyborg territory, it would be nice for these various sensors to be really good at what they do, rather than trying to do everything. For example, a pedometer in my shoe is going to be far more accurate at tracking my steps than the Lumo Lift. More importantly, I already have multiple sensors for tracking my steps taken. I don’t want to pay $80 for another. I would, however, pay $30 for a posture tracker.

Gender Bias

A lot of wearable tech companies (or most tech companies in general) are very biased towards men. The Pebble Steel and Moto 360 watches were both clearly designed for men. While the Galaxy Gear wasn’t really designed for anybody, it definitely leans more towards a masculine style. The ads, which suggest a Galaxy Gear will help you pick up women, confirm this. That’s why it’s noteworthy that the Lift is specifically designed to work for both men and women. It even has a bunch of optional jewelry attachments to help it fit into any attire. As wearable tech gets closer to jewelry than portable computers, it will be interesting to see how more companies tackle the gender problem.

I’ve been burned too many times by hardware “preorders” that I don’t plan on investing in Lumo right now, but I look forward to checking them out after the Lift has launched.

Written on April 26, 2014 in Chicago.