With smart and connected devices being lauded as the future, UK companies are working to make sure they’re not getting left behind. Here are five of the most interesting gadgets that Britain has to offer.
Not content with letting you pay for items with a contactless card or via your mobile phone, Barclaycard has gone a step further with its bPay wristband. Customers can opt for any Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card when using the bracelet, which is valid anywhere that accepts contactless transactions. The band – which was trialled this summer – is the first payment wearable for the UK, and the British bank has lost no time in teaming up with organisations as diverse as Southampton FC and TfL to get the wearable off the ground.
London start-up Blocks are planning a customisable smartwatch product and hope to start shipping at the end of next year, following a crowdfunding campaign. The modular wearable lets users choose the hardware they want, from things like motion sensors, gesture controls and NFC chips for contactless payments to GPS, heart monitors and fingerprint scanners. Each module will have removable covers, allowing users to customise the look along with the hardware.
Like Blocks, the ARC Pendant was one of three UK finalists in this year’s Intel Make It Wearable challenge. The smart necklace monitors the body and uses haptic feedback to relay information – telling a user to go left on a programmed route, for example. The gadget will also be able to take voice commands and has a customisable LED light ring that can change colour depending on which of its features are in use. The pendant is another item planned for next year and should launch with three apps: ARC Explore, ARC Home and ARC Body.
Consumer wearables are grabbing the headlines, but – in a sense – they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Take the Sensum, for instance, a platform that captures and analyses data gathered from test subjects to see if your ads or products are floating their boat. Sensum was developed by a neuromarketing software firm of the same name, set up in Belfast in 2013. The wearable detects negative physical responses in heart rate and galvanic skin responses, as well as audio, text and video notes, to test every aspect of a customer’s response to a company’s new ideas.
The most obvious place for the Internet of Things to start to make its mark is in the smart home, and the first place it’s really gaining popularity is in smart thermostats. Birmingham entrepreneurs Alasdair Woodbridge and Simon Turner have come up with Heat Genius, which lets you control which rooms in your house are being heated, rather than turning your entire system on and off.