When most people think of wearable computing, they may envision bulky smarwatches or computerized glasses that make us look like cyborgs. A new chip, however, may be small and discrete enough to fit seamlessly into our everyday clothing.
A company called mCube has developed a new accelerometer that’s smaller and cheaper than other components of its kind, according to MIT Technology Review. In fact, mCube’s accelerometer is the fraction of the size of a US dime, as shown in the image.
An accelerometer is the sensor inside your phone that detects motion, and mCube’s accelerometers only measure one millimetre across. That’s half the size of your standard accelerometer.
This could make it an attractive option for wearable technology, as mCube CEO Ben Lee told MIT:
You could emebed it into your clothing so that you don’t even know it’s there. You could put them in your golf shirt and pants, so immediately after you swing you can get an analysis on your smartphone.
While accelerometers are usually made of two separate chips, mCube has combined both parts into one component. Typically, an accelerometer consists of a mechanical device that detects movement and a separate chip that interprets that movement data.
They work by responding to vibrations associated with your movement, as LiveScience explains. Accelerometers detect these vibrations whenever a standstill object goes into motion.
Although smart clothing — like the computerized golf shirt Lee described — could become easier to produce using mCube’s technology, other companies have been creating their own connected clothing solutions for years.
In May, Intel showed Re/code its shirt filled with sensors, which can measure your heart rate without requiring an additional strap.
Sensoria’s Fitness Socks, for example, come with a slew of sensors that can provide in-depth feedback for runners. The socks and accompanying anklet come with pressure sensors and an accelerometer that can tell you about your running form to prevent injury.
mCube’s components could just make it easier for clothing like this to reach the mainstream.
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