Device of the week 4: Project Jacquard – Google and Levi’s wearable

Being more into up-to-date interactive gadgets in the market, here’s Google and Levi’s Project Jacquard (USD $350), a piece of smart clothing that will be available online from today 2nd Oct on wards. About its collaboration, Google developed Jacquard, a technology that can be woven into fabrics. As for Levi’s, it is the first brand to use the technology, and used its classic commuter trucker jacket to house it all.

Aimed at cyclists, this smart denim jacket allows users to customise their experience and get a variety of services be it maps or music directly from the jacket sleeve.

Project Jacquard guide: The lowdown on Google and Levi's smart jacket

This means dismissing calls, getting directions, switching music and even reading messages out loud with the paired headset or its speaker just by swiping the sleeve or tapping it.


For this Commuter Jacket, it uses an interactive yarn to build the touch and gesture sensitive areas on the sleeve, where sensor grids can be created for even larger interactive surfaces. This allows designers to take advantage of LEDs, haptic and other outputs to provide feedback for the user.

The fibres are linked to a detachable smart tag which attaches itself on the cuff, which provides connectivity to your smartphone. This is removable and could be plugged into a USB port to charge it up.


  • Well-packaged

A collaboration of two big brands is one way to attain brand credibility and trust of a buyer, hence buying reach of wearable technology. This collaboration is an important move as not only it fulfilled its aesthetics component, but it is also one of the most sleek and stylish wearables to date equipped with smart capabilities. If there is indeed a breakthrough in this product, it could lead to the rise of more iconic brands collaborating with technologies to create more wearables, expanding the market.



  • Limiting gestures

There are only three types of gestures detected for this wearable. It may be a tad bit limiting to adhere to these such few gestures moreover, while on the road. Following the wearable principle, wearable technology design should start from the human, not the machine. Hence, the aspect of human-centered design can be further developed.

  • Fabric vulnerability

With the nature of a clothing aimed at cyclists, there’s a high chance that this needs to be washed after sweaty rides. However, it was mentioned that this jacket could be washed a maximum of 10 times before it stops working. However, the material of yarn is limiting its shelf life despite its stylist exterior and capabilities as a wearable device. Hence, more research & development will be needed to cover up this product’s flaw.


As a cyclist myself, I’d have a user inclination to use voice command if wearing this set of smart clothing kit, instead of lifting my grip off the bar to do swipes. Perhaps the makers could incorporate voice sensors into the smart chip around the collars of the jacket. This would create a hands-free device that changes my music, gives me directions and reads my messages aloud which is indeed more spectacular than needing gestures to perform an action.

Device of the week 3: Amazon Dash Wand with Alexa – Wireless assistant

Groceries have never been easier. And humans have never been lazier. This device helps you find recipes, convert cups to ounces, buy and reorder essentials, find nearby restaurants and more – all you have to do is say it or scan a barcode.

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The amazon Dash Wand is wireless and runs on double AA batteries. Also, a phone will be needed to register this device for it to run. Being voice activated, a user just simply needs to mention the dish they want to cook eg. ‘mushroom alfredo pasta’, and Alexa (a Siri equivalent) replies with the ingredients needed.

It is a true household device as you’re also able to command the device using your voice to dim the lights, lock the door, control temperatures and more.

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  • Well-designed

The item is water-resistant and this is an extremely practical point as the device will be highly found in the kitchen in the danger of liquid items. Furthermore, some thought also went behind the item’s placement where having a magnetic feature can allow users to stick it on the fridge where the groceries are found.

  • Convenient and handy item

The amazon dash wand saves you the extra effort and clicks to manually search for recipes or the time of your order arrival etc. This gives it some magic in its user experience by saving them time and getting things on the go with such minimal effort. You are now able to control different house appliances with your voice using this device.

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  • Close product features to Siri and apps

However, while it all seems magical – it seems to remind me of Apple’s Siri altogether. The same level of features can be done on the Siri App, apart from being directly linked to the Amazon app, which is actually not much a biggie here. The other functions are also similar to other internet of things such as a house appliance app that acts as a remote control.

  • Magic of device.. isn’t really that magical

It may seem really fuss-free and convenient to say something and have it added to your grocery list but the user still has to open the phone app to manually check out after adding it into their list. Hence, the device seems to create a superficial sense of convenience and luxury, where the main functionality can be further improved.

Improvements to the device


This device can be configured in several languages, which gives it a potential to be used also as a portable language translation device. Currently, it detects English (U.S., UK), German, French (France, Canada), Italian, Spanish (Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia), Portuguese (Brazil), Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Russian, or Dutch. Hence, it will be innovative to make use of this feature as a helpful cross-cultural communication tool.

Portable Language Translation Device

A portable language translation device. A way to accentuate its value as a useful interactive device for its market would be to combine the functions of these two devices together.

Alternative uses

  • Question-and-answer device

With its portable size and interactive voice command feature, it is handy for a question-and-answer situations. Therefore, it can be used for a wide spectrum of scenarios. For instance, in the museum, where visitors who want to know more about the artworks can use this device and saves the scheduled physical tours and guides. It could also be used as a device to provide directions when entering a huge venue eg. themepark or mall, where users can collect these device at the entry. This saves them the trouble of downloading apps to facilitate their trip.

In general, this device is useful but slightly impractical as its features could be embedded into a phone app itself to command instructions to appliances.






Device of the week 2: Sensory substitution device – EyeMusic

When I asked my friends if they think it’s possible to see with their ears, they looked at me as if I was absurd. Indeed it sounds out of your mind at your first time hearing that. However, it’s been long known that blind people are able to compensate for their loss of sight by using other senses, relying on sound and touch to help them “see” the world. It was indeed made possible with a sensory substitution device (SSD), named EyeMusic.


Image result for eyemusic device

Made possible by a team of researchers from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, they’ve created a software programme that translates visuals into audio that enables the blind to “see”. The device itself looks like any normal pair of sunglasses but with a special camera implanted on it and passes this data on particular sensors.

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Using a range of musical tones, it develops a precise combination of melodies and sounds, various for each and every of the objects of the environment. For example, using EyeMusic people can distinguish an apple from a banana or an orange from a lemon, barely touching the fruit.

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It works by representing the height of objects by the pitch of the sound – tall objects are high-pitch; low objects are lower pitch. The width of an object is represented by the duration of the sound while colour is represented by different musical instruments including the violin, trumpet and organ and different colour.

Pros and cons

  • Brain stimulation

An advantage of this device is definitely how it has provided the opportunity to the visually impaired to experience a sense of sight, through the use of pitch, tone, duration etc to identify an object. Some might not have experienced anything close to visuals in their lifetime but this sensory substitution device allows them to do so, activating a very specific area of the visual cortex

  • Distinctiveness

An interesting feature of EyeMusic is that it distinguishes not only different but specific shades of a colour, with every shade assigned a tone. This comes in handy when needed to separate objects distinctively where the tone of the object is important.



  • PortabilityThe device itself is a wearable and easily portable, making it convenient for the user. However, it seems that this version needs to be connected to another device (laptop/computer) for it to work. This leads us to the next disadvantageNew technology
  • Technology keeps up really fast and new technology offers more advanced ways of substituting sensory more than ever before. These exciting new devices can restore sight to the blind in ways never before thought possible. Eg. Google glasses, which are light and wearable on-the-go. EyeMusic has to constantly keep up to its game to match with the new technology or else it will turn obsolete

Alternative uses

  • Visual rehabilitation

Apart from providing as a sensory substitution device, it can be used for research purposes to study brain function. The information captured could help facilitate in other technology developments in the similar area or beyond.

Design tool

  • With the device’s distinguishing colour tone feature, that aspect of technology can be adopted for people doing colour theory/ design related works where colour is an important to deal with. It can help to minimize errors in the output of the work


Device of the week 1: Biometric Palm Payment – Hand Pay

With the advent of technology, we have seen a surge in contactless payment modes. Taking user convenience to the next level, palm vein biometric technology allows one to make payment with just a swipe of a hand. Hand Pay is done by scanning the veins of the shopper to verify their identity.

Hand Pay, a palm payment device, launched Lotte Card Korea is not in use in Singapore yet

How it works

It involves a series of sensors that utilize infrared light to identify a user’s palm vein pattern. The sensors generate a unique biometric template that is then matched against the palm print of a registered user, which takes just 30 seconds to register (scanning of palm and entering card details). A text message is then sent to their mobile phone with an activation link to a website, with payments taken directly from customer’s bank accounts twice a month.

Image result for handpay korea


  • Time & convenience

The process of scanning a user’s palm takes less than a minute and can yield a match in mere seconds. Once a user has been identified, they can make payment. Registering new users is also hassle-free

  • Security

In payments, security is seen as the most important factor. A great thing about biometric technology is that fingerprints, veins etc. need distinguishing biological traits unique to an individual in order to access control. Hence, this device increases security, lowering the risk of identity theft and frauds.


  • Adoption of technology

This technology was started in Sweden, started by a university student and aims to patent the system and expand it around the globe. However, not many countries have adopted it. It has not hit the shores of Singapore apart from the demo for Pyeongchang Winter Olympics workshop here, by Lotte Card Korea. In general, it will take awhile to get retailers to be bought over with a payment method, moreover a  new device like this. Also, their main target of customers might not conform to the technology if they have been comfortable with traditional payment methods, resulting in a small reach of users of the device.

  • Skeptics

Taking a look at the comment section of the video points out how skeptical people are in the technology. Could it be too convenient that it cannot be trusted? Will many be out of job next time with the advent of such technology? The plausible answers to these questions might be daunting.

Photo taken by myself during a Hand Pay demo during a Winter Olympics workshop held at Visa Singapore. A manager from Lotte Card Korea explains the usage of the palm print device

New application to the device


It could be used to replace anything used for payment namely cards, mobile and other wearables. For example, the Hand Pay can be used for payment in public transport, replacing the tapping of cards as commuters pass the gantry.

Also, entering venues such as concerts, theme parks and other events with crowds. With biometric capabilities, it keeps the queue short and lowers the risk of cheating the system for venues with crowds that enter and re-enter.