Jun 06, 2014

    Taipei bus drivers to test wearable tech


    A NEW generation of wearable technology is promising not only to log data about users' health but also to predict and avert crises - from drivers falling asleep at the wheel to runners wearing themselves out in a marathon.

    But there are concerns over the accuracy of the personal information collected by the burgeoning range of smart wristbands, watches and clothing.

    Wearable technology is the fastest-growing category at this year's Computex, Asia's largest tech trade show which kicked off in Taiwan on Tuesday.

    "Health and fitness sensors and data are fundamental for wearables and largely define the category," said Daniel Matte of market research firm Canalys.

    At Taiwanese smartwear company AiQ's Computex stand this week, a muscular mannequin showed off a lycra cycling top.

    Stainless steel fibres in the fabric and electrodes in the sleeves sense heart rate and other vital signs, as well as calories burned, sending the data to a Bluetooth clip which can transmit it to a phone, tablet or other smart device.

    The technology will appeal to sports fans, but it is Taiwan's bus drivers who will be the first to benefit, when companies ask them to wear smart shirts later this year in a move that could prevent accidents.

    "We will provide a shirt which can monitor the drivers in case they are falling asleep, or in case any vital signs are not OK, and it will provide a signal or a warning to the bus company," said AiQ vice-president Steve Huang.

    But analysts still have reservations about whether smartwear can really tell us the truth about our bodies.

    "Current sensors are not very accurate, but there will be improvements," said Mr Matte.