Ashley Beattie dreams of a world where everyone wakes up to fresh-brewed coffee, your house is always a comfortable temperature and people don’t have their faces buried in a smartphone.
The McMaster University graduate is part of the startup team at Kiwi Wearables, who brought their thumb-sized innovation the Kiwi Move to the Consumer Electronics Expo (CES) in Las Vegas last week. The Kiwi Move is a kind of wearable technology in the vein of Google Glass that Beattie hopes will take off in a burgeoning market.
'It’s not just for the early adopting, young, hip smartphone kind of person. It’s for everyone.' - Ashlet Beattie, Kiwi Wearables
“It goes so much farther than activity tracking and glorified pedometers,” Beattie told CBC Hamilton. “These are little computers we’re using to enhance our lifestyle.”
The Kiwi Move is a one by one and a half inch device with a set of sensors, a wifi connection and Bluetooth compatibility that can be used to interact with your environment and your smartphone/home network.
It has motion sensors that act as a pedometer and monitor sleep in a way that’s now a standard in almost all wearable technology out there today.
But the device’s wifi capabilities and ability to track temperature, barometric pressure, environmental conditions and sound set it apart from the pack, Beattie says.
How does it work?
The device has an open API, so you can send instructions to other devices that can receive them. If that device has the ability to receive a command from the internet or a smartphone, then this can act as a controller for it.
Say a person has a digital thermostat in their home. If the Kiwi Move works as advertised, users could program the device to lower the temperature in their home automatically when they leave, and raise it when they return. A simple voice command like saying “lights” could turn on or off the lights, and people could launch or initialize apps with gestures instead of fumbling with the phone in their pocket.
“The smartphone was the next big thing, and now everybody’s got one of those," Beattie said. “Now the market is pulling for the next device, the next big thing that’s going to help them do things a little simpler and a little easier. Wearable technology brings that to you.”
Some say wearable technology is a fad or a flash in the pan — both the Google Glass and Samsung’s wearable "smartwatch" offering have been met with some skepticism. Others decry the usefulness of wearable tech because it acts as a kind of glorified smartphone remote.
“But it’s different,” Beattie said. “If you’re going to live your life heads up versus heads down while you’re interacting with an app on your smartphone — which is the way I think we all want to — wearable technology is the only answer for that.”
A growing industry
The wearable tech industry is also projected to blossom into a $19 billion market within the next four years, according to techhive.com. CES was awash with wearable technology this year, but Beattie hopes the Kiwi Move sets itself apart as a sleeker, less invasive option compared to other offerings, which could be seen as clunky.
“People want wearable technology, but there is a bit of an aversion to looking like you’re becoming a computer,” he said. “That’s why we made our devices as inconspicuous as possible.”
Beattie says anyone with “some awareness of technology” should be able to use the Kiwi Move when it launches in July. He says his team is endeavoring to make sure the device can be used by anyone.
“It’s not just for the early adopting, young, hip smartphone kind of person. It’s for everyone.”
Visit the Kiwi Wearables website for more information on the Move.