The NFL Gets Quantified Intelligence, Courtesy Of Shoulder Pad-Mounted Motion Trackers

Seperation The NFL is making a move to integrate RFID-based activity-tracking tech to give fans, coaches and players more information about what exactly athletes go through during each game. The Zebra Technologies tracker systems will mount to player shoulder pads and communicate with receivers installed in 17 stadiums during the 2014 season. They will provide information about each player’s… Read More

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Quantified Work: Meet Stir, A Former iPod Engineer’s Smart, Health-Tracking And Height-Adjustable Desk

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 10.35.45 AM

If you’re anything like me, you spend too much of your day at your desk, in front of your computer. During busy days — especially once you go deep into “the zone” — it’s easy for a few hours to fly in our usual, sedentary position. For this reason, I’m probably not the only one who could use a gentle reminder: “Hey Rip, you’ve been sitting for two hours, how about a walk?”

Well, my friends, your Fitbit can remind you that you’re behind on your steps, but what if your desk could remind you to stand up, or take a break? Thanks to Stir, a Los Angeles-born startup founded by former Apple, Disney and IDEO employees, now you can buy a smart desk that will do just that. The Stir Kinetic Desk, the startup’s first product, which launches today, combines the health-tracking software of popular wearables like FitBit and Up with connected hardware machine learning to create a new work experience that actually promotes movement — and your health.

Stir Founder and CEO JP Labrosse was one of the first 35 employees of the iPod Division at Apple, where he led the engineering development teams for two of early iPod projects, so it’s not surprising that the Kinetic Desk borrows a bit from the Apple design scheme. In particular, the desk comes with a built-in touch screen — about the size, shape, look of an iPod or iPhone — which allows users to change the configuration and height of their desk, or to go from sitting to standing (and back) just by double tapping.

Not only that, but the screen displays graphs and visual representations of a user’s movement, so they can quickly see how long they’ve been sitting and what their work habits and usage looks like. The desk contains a thermal presence sensor and computer outfitted with its health-tracking software, allowing it to track your movement and display that data through its touch screen.

While it may sound almost uncanny, not to worry, the desk isn’t yet outfitted with Siri’s voice or any sort of personal assistant. While Labrosse was willing to admit that the Stir Kinetic Desk could incorporate some Watson or HAL 9000-like features down the road, for now, the desk is meant to work in concert with the Internet of Things, not to try to commandeer it and dominate your office.

In fact, the desk tracks and adapts to your personal routine in such a way that’s meant to optimize health and productivity. The desk will display how many calories you’ve burned, time spent standing versus sitting — and your answer to “who is the most beautiful desk of them all?” of course.

Labrasse, echoing Harvard Business Review’s recent study, called sitting “the smoking of our generation,” which is probably a little overdramatic, but it’s true that in our overworked, over-connected modern work environment, we do spend more time in chairs than on our feet. While your Kinetic Desk won’t remind you to eat, shower, finish coding and go outside or be a better friend, it will help keep you upright and mindful of the healthier routine that’s right around the corner.

The desk also contains a setting called “active mode,” which you can activate by hitting a button on the front of the desk, which will put it into “Whisperbreath” mode — meaning that the desk prompts you to move after you’ve been sitting for too long with a gentle, one-inch rising and falling motion. You can then double tap to change positions.

Stir’s new smart desk also comes with built-in AC and USB ports (eight and four, respectively), connected to a single power cord you plug into the wall, and comes with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, which the CEO hopes will eventually allow the desk to integrate with third-party fitness and wellness devices. To think: Your desk could be come your fitness and wellness graph itself. Imagine that. The team will also eventually release a web-based dashboard to allow you to view your work and health data on the go.

The Stir Kinetic Desk has a hardwood surface, comes in white, espresso and four underside colors, and will retail at an expected $ 3,890. It’s not cheap, but, hey, you can’t put a price on good health, people, especially when it’s your office furniture that’s keeping you healthy.

Labrasse and the Stir team were kind enough to let us take their new health-conscious desk for a spin, and you’ll find our video below. Find the Stir Kinetic Desk at home here.



TechCrunch » Gadgets

Meet Autom, The Quantified Self Robot That Is Your Next Diet Coach, Made By PCH And Intuitive Automata

autom

The world is becoming increasingly populated with robots, and consumers are eating it up. Now, the latest robot to hit the market will help you keep your calories down in the process. PCH International, the company that teams with startups and bigger brands to help manufacture and distribute hardware products, has announced its latest project: a partnership with Intuitive Automata to develop Autom, a $ 199 “healthcare robot coach” designed to help people lose weight.

Autom, as the robot is called, is designed as a personal lifestyle coach: it takes in data about the person who owns it and gradually adapts its responses to keep you on track. “The more it learns about the individual user, the more it customizes the feedback advice to keep the individual motivated,” the companies said in a statement.

The idea here is that although there are dozens of apps and some hardware on the market today designed to help people stay healthy and eat well — a product of the big interest in “quantified self” technology — having a physical presence sitting in your kitchen, which is learning about and responding to what you do in there, will be a more effective, engaging and fun way of approaching the challenge of losing weight and eating healthy. Intuitive says that this is based on actual research that indicates that robots “create a more powerful and long-lasting relationship with the user than a mobile phone app or a computer.” On top of the $ 199 price, subscriptions to use the service begin at $ 19.

The news was announced today by PCH on stage at the Dublin Web Summit. PCH is headquartered in Ireland and manufactures its products in China. Other notable deals PCH has made include a partnership with LittleBits in July to produce the company’s leggo-style electronic modelling pieces as part of a mass-market push for the hardware company founded by Ayah Bdeir, a TED Fellow and MIT Media Lab alum. In June, PCH also purchased its own design studio Lime Lab to get further involved in the design and production process.

Robots and robotics have had a major boost, with crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter giving inventors a new platform for raising funds and attention for their big ideas. And people who are better known for their software prowess are also investing in robotics. LittleBits is backed by True Ventures and Khosla Ventures. Foundry Group, which has recently raised a $ 225 million fund, invests in Modular Robots.

And Dmitry Grishin, the CEO of Mail.ru, has his own robotics investment: Grishin Robotics, which recently made its first investment, $ 225,000 into Double Robotics, a TC Disrupt Hardware Alley finalist.

“‘The important thing to look at the hardware and robotics business is that everyone knows you can start a software company with two or three engineers, but now the same goes for hardware and robotics companies,” Grishin said earlier today on stage at the Web Summit.

PCH says that the intention is to produce Autom on a mass scale “to help [Intuitive] cater for huge consumer demand.” A spokesperson for the company says that they are not yet disclosing when it will become available. But here you can see a larger-than-life version on stage from earlier today. Below is the actual size as it will appear on your kitchen counter.

Autom is being developed as part of the PCH Accelerator program, which helps hardware startups bring smart ideas to market.

“We have been exploring the new consumer robotics market and have found a perfect opportunity in helping Intuitive Automata scale and bring Autom to market,” said Liam Casey, CEO of PCH International, in a statement today. “Dr. Cory Kidd, founder and CEO of Intuitive, has the vision and energy to make Autom a common device in every home and we are delighted to partner with him to make his vision a reality.”

(main photo credit via)


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