Designed to change lives

Designed to change lives
The SteelSeries Sentry Gaming Eye Tracker powered by Tobii technology is shown placed across the bottom of a computer screen (with three red lights).The device is the first eye tracker for consumers and its software can be use to calibrate and store individual eye profiles.

CLIP ON CAMERA, BY NARRATIVE

Taking a photo usually requires a conscious effort to whip out a camera or a phone. But, sometimes, people are too preoccupied, or do not react fast enough, and a slice of life is missed.

Technology firm Narrative aims to help people record moments in their lives with the Narrative Clip, a small clip-on camera that weighs just 20g and measures 36mm x 36mm x 9mm (smaller than a box of paper clips).

Clip it, say, to your collar and the 5-megapixel camera automatically takes a photo every 30 seconds. To take a specific photo, double tap the device.

Turn it face down or slip it into a pocket and it will go to sleep. Built-in GPS records the general location of the device. The 8GB storage space is good for about 4,000 images and the battery lasts about two days.

Connect the Clip to a computer to upload and store photos on a Narrative Service online account. An app (iOS or Android) allows browsing and sharing of images.

But what a pain to sort through thousands of pictures.

Narrative's algorithms pick the "best" photos (lighting, faces detected and composition are all considered) and highlight them in a timeline on a user's account.

But all photos remain viewable and can be played as a time-lapse video.

The Clip costs US$149 (S$198). The online Narrative Service is free. In March, a paid premium service will be introduced.

An update, the Clip 2, was announced earlier this month with a better camera, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in. It will cost US$199 and will retail later this year.

Narrative's biggest market is the United States, followed by Britain, Sweden and Japan. It also has Singapore customers. It does not see the Clip replacing cameras but more as a tool to help people remember what goes on in their lives.

PORTABLE LOO, BY PEEPOOPLE

When disaster strikes, attempting to build proper sanitation facilities quickly can be difficult.

If such facilities are lacking, people would be forced to relieve themselves in the open, spreading germs and contaminating ground water.

Social enterprise Peepoople developed a low-cost personal latrine product called the Peepoo, which comprises a double-layered biodegradable bag into which someone can urinate or defecate.

The bag contains urea, which, when in contact with human waste, begins to kill germs and other pathogens. This limits the spread of disease until proper toilets or proper housing can be provided.

A pack of 28 Peepoos costs 3.50 euros (S$5.40).

Because the bag is made of biodegradable materials, it and its contents can, in time, be used as agricultural fertiliser. It takes up to eight months at 20 deg C for the bag and its contents to break down.

The Red Cross and Oxfam have used the Peepoo in areas hit by natural disasters. Oxfam distributed Peepoos in Tacloban in the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan struck in November 2013.

Last year, Caritas rolled out a Peepoo system in a slum in Congo's Goma city in Africa.

The Peepoos are sold to residents and they get a refund for turning in used Peepoos, which become crop fertiliser for the Caritas project, Peepoople said.

EYE-TRACKING CAMERA, BY TOBII TECHNOLOGY

Pizza Hut made headlines recently with its "mind reading" menu trial in Britain. It claims that the digital menu can predict what kind of pizza people will want.

Customers are presented with a tablet with a spread of some 20 pizza toppings and a pizza is selected for them within seconds, thanks to technology that tracks which ingredients they look at the longest, The Telegraph newspaper reported.

This eye-tracking camera wizardry from Tobii Technology is not limited to ordering fast food.

Retailers, marketers and advertisers have used it for years to figure out how effective their store layouts, promotions and advertisements are to customers.

To get the data, consumers are asked to don special spectacles and a new version that was shipped out last month lets researchers see in real time what catches customers' eyes.

Tobii's technology also helps people with physical disabilities to use computers and type by tracking what they view on a screen.

Soon, the technology may enter the operating theatre. Tobii worked with German clinical display company Esinomed to develop a touch-free eye-tracking system for surgeons, which was launched last November.

The system lets surgeons browse patients' data and medical images in the operating theatre using just their eyes, so that surgeons do not have to leave the theatre to access the data.

STROKE DIAGNOSIS MACHINE, BY MEDFIELD DIAGNOSTICS

A clot in a blood vessel in the brain causes stroke in nearly nine out of 10 stroke patients. A smaller number get stroke from bleeding in the brain.

The symptoms are similar but their treatment is different, according to medical technology company Medfield Diagnostics.

But it takes time to figure out which type of stroke a person has. Meanwhile, the patient's condition may be deteriorating quickly, the company said.

Medfield Diagnostics is trying to shorten the diagnosis time.

Diagnosis now requires the patient to be screened in a hospital. This could involve an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging.

Up to 8 per cent of patients get the right treatment within four to five hours, says the firm.

Medfield Diagnostics thinks, based on trials of its Strokefinder device which can be used when a patient is in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, that it can boost the number of people helped to 18 to 30 per cent.

The company believes patients could get the right treatment within 90 minutes. The patient rests his head in the Strokefinder's headrest, which sends weak, low-powered microwave signals to the head for a couple of seconds, and repeats this after a few minutes.

The signals behave differently depending on the type of stroke, says Medfield Diagnostics. Measuring them helps medical professionals to diagnose the stroke type.

The company says patients are not exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Medfield Diagnostics is targeting a commercial launch of the Strokefinder this year.

kennyc@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 22, 2015.
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