Device of the Week #3 – FITZANIA

Fitzania is preventative medical checkup disguised as an immersive game. Its aim is to encourage citizens to return regularly for health check-ups and fitness tests, by making healthcare a more personalized, stress-free and enjoyable part of everyday life. It allows viewers to have fun and immerse themselves comfortably in a game world, while analysis and diagnosis happens naturally at the same time. This setup consists of a spacious open room with digital walls and a single orb for players to carry during the game.



Players can lift the orb from the pedestal as they verify their personal information and calibrate their body movements with the system. Upon successful log-in, the orb vibrates, signaling the start of the game. 

Fitzania makes use of a unique tracking system to map player data in the virtual space. Each orb is also treated with halo retro-reflective coatings, allowing easy detection by the sensors and plotting of the player’s precise location. As the player moves and positions the orb in the physical game space, several sensors around the room detects and analyze the bio-metric signals collected. The game provides on the spot diagnosis and updates the player’s personal fitness profile, allowing the player to receive his or her results right after.


Museum of Future Government Services, UAE, Dubai, 2015


This is certainly a refreshing approach towards healthcare, with easy calibration and little props. It pushes the boundaries of conventional games by incorporating aspects of health diagnosis with fun. 

However, this setup could be a rather pricey investment – could only be applicable to youths, as this activity could be physically draining for kids or the elderly. Furthermore, the scope of the fitness diagnosis is perhaps limited or too general across all patients, and hence unable to determine specific illnesses or health problems simply through a game.

Perhaps this game can be installed in large hospital buildings or gyms as a form of entertainment, where visitors or patients can interact with. It can be a fun alternative way for people to understand the importance of health check-ups and have a general idea of their physical well-being, instead of being an official diagnosis.



Device of the Week #4 – Four Letter Words

The Four Letter Words
is an installation by interactive artist Rob Seward, consisting of a robotic collection of fluorescent lights. The setup is separated into four units, each capable of displaying any of the 26 alphabets by shifting the placement of lights. Hence, any four-lettered word can be displayed at one time.

The word sequence displayed is continuously generated by an algorithm derived from a linguistic database developed by the University of South Florida. The meaning of each word, the letter sequencing, rhyming and association are all taken into account with each generated word. For example, the following word will always have only one difference in alphabets compared to the previous word: RATE – RAKE – LAKE – WAKE – WAGE – WARE – DARE – DARN



What is needed

4 Arduinos
20 servos
8 step motors
24 3.9 inch cold cathode lights

How it works

The positions of the lights are stored in an XML file, while a mac mini runs a Processing code comprising of data alignment to the four Arduino boards. The application reads the list of words generated, and send the data over. The position and angle of each light bulb responds to any of the alphabets from A-Z, moving in a fairly quick manner. Rob Seward mentioned that there were certain alphabet transitions that the device could not carry out, due to the arrangement of the light bulbs. For example, if ‘S’ switches to ‘D’, two of the bulbs would collide. The Processing code ensures that none of these transitions would happen, to avoid collisions and destruction.

Image result for four letter word rob sewardImage result for four letter word rob seward


As a functional piece, I feel that this device would add an exciting touch to existing neon signs, in place of restaurant or bar signs, or other places of entertainment. It could display names, or short meaning words pertaining to its surroundings, or simply move around forming an interesting design.
It could also be installed as an art piece in museums or hotel lobbies where visitors can sit and admire.


The length of each word displayed is restricted to the number of Arduino setups, and only appears one at a time. While point of the work revolves around word association and rhyming, the same device would be unable to display other types of textual content, unless produced in a large-scale setting.



Device of the Week #2 – NOTCH 3D MOTION SENSORS

Notch is a wearable sensor technology that tracks 3D body motion. It comes in a pack of six small triangular waterproof sensors, weighing less than 10g each. They can be attached to and worn using thin elastic straps, on key areas such as elbows, knees, ankles and torso. Its small and comfortable design allows it to be used anywhere, without hindering movement during activities or being visually obtrusive. Unlike traditional trackers that can only be worn on the wrist, Notch is able to capture much more precise body movements and is suitable for sports or activities involving full body movement.


You can try out the configured 3D visualizations here!



The sensors can be calibrated through the Notch smartphone application, and users can pick a configured movement or create their own. Fit with an accelerometer, gyroscopes and compasses within each device, users can also collect data and replay movements through the app, to check for correct postures and monitor their progress. Sensors can be controlled by tapping to toggle between recording and pausing, to allow movement capture to be continuous or only on specific postures. Users are not restricted to the number of sensors that they can wear, depending on the range of movement tracked.

Screen grab from Notch 3D simulation of motion visualization on their website

Notch is not only an input device but also an output device; a haptic feedback function is included, where a vibrator motor is triggered when a good or bad move is made, acting almost like a ‘personal trainer’. This device is aimed at profession athletes, coaches as well as therapists, making it easier to identify problematic physical habits and to correct techniques. Its waterproof features also benefits synchronized and competitive swimmers.

While it is currently being used mostly by professionals and developers, the Notch kit can be purchased by anyone who wants to try it out, at 379 USD per kit.

Not only is it for sports players but can also greatly benefit healthcare sectors. This device can help injured or disabled patients in physiotherapy, to monitor their movements and track their healing progress. Professionals in various other fields have also expressed interest in the technology: martial arts, climbers and even animators. As they plan on releasing an API for third party users to build additional uses for Notch, the potential uses are endless:

Sports – Sensors act as their personal guide in preventing unnecessary injuries and correcting techniques based on their motion data.

Healthcare – To enhance recovery during physiotherapy.

Entertainment – For dancers and models to perfect their moves, aid 3D animators in creating characters.

VR Gaming – Replace VR controllers to provide a more natural and physically immersive gaming experience


Device of the Week #1 – DRING SMARTCANE

Company: Dring Alert System & Fayet, a French company specialising in handcrafted canes
Technology: GSM and GPS network, accelerometers, gyroscopes

The Dring Smartcane is a walking cane with strategically-designed build-in smart technology around its handle. It is embedded with several motion sensors such as an accelerometer and a gyroscope, programmed to detect any signs of unusual activity from the user, such as falling. It activates with the user’s grip, which is also a factor that triggers the alarm system for any falling activity. Caregivers and family members are automatically alerted when such instances occur, through the integrated GPS system. Signals can also be sent back from the caregiver, to let the elderly know that help is on the way.

Smartcane by Dring: Winner of the Innovation Award CES 2017

The Smartcane also features artificial intelligence algorithms that compiles user movement data and compare them with external data, to learn user habits. Unusual changes over time (such as reduce activity, strange patterns or even tiredness) can also be detected and monitored, helping the user and their families identify possible worsening health conditions. The elderly may not even notice that he/she has been less active over the past month, but the cane would know!

With the lack of elderly health aids in thee high-tech industry, the Smartcane’s user friendly design is a perfect fit into the senior community.


Jérémie Bennegent, AI and Software Engineer for Nov’in

With falls as one of the leading causes in fatal and non-fatal trauma injuries among older adults, I personally feel that this product could truly bring about positive changes in the health of seniors and should be integrated into every society. These incidents could occur anywhere and are very threatening to the fragile frames of the elderly. Perhaps this innovative device would lead us to the future where the fears of falling may no longer be a threat to the elderly. 🙂

Do check out their official site here!

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