Back when mobile phones were just beginning to find their feet in terms of popularity, convergence seemed to be the order of the day. At the time, it was decried by some as a mere buzzword, but the enormous prevalence of smartphones today seems to suggest that it was more than just that. The theory of convergence suggested that the functions of all the devices that you might need on a daily basis could be combined into one device that took care of everything. That’s why today, our mobile phones typically function at least as our music player and our digital camera, if not several other things too. It’s a tact that has certainly worked for mobile phones, and it seems like it might be the next step for wearable technology as well.
A new device called the Arcus Motion Analyzer seems to be leading this charge towards convergence in the wearable sphere. Smartly combining an activity tracker with a gesture recognition device, it seems that its designers have opted to give it the functionality of one of the hottest devices on the market at present, as well as a hot tip for the next big thing in tech. Whether this works out as planned depends entirely on how widely gesture-based input is adopted over the next couple of years, but if it does indeed take off as predicted, then this device could be something of a big deal.
The device takes the form of a ring worn on your finger, which then can monitor the motions that you’re making either to control a nearby device via Bluetooth or simply for fitness reasons. For instance, one of the examples given by the developers of the product is its capacity to help golfers improve their swing. By wearing the device while they play, users would be able to record information on how their swing changes over time, as well as look back on just how they move as they play. This functionality is not just limited to golf, of course—any sport using handheld equipment can easily be monitored using the device, as well as other activities like swimming.
Of course, the real innovation in this device comes when it is used as a gesture based input tracker. Any Bluetooth Smart Ready device can be controlled by simple finger gestures when paired with the Arcus Motion Analyzer, meaning you could walk around your house controlling them all individually with a simple wave of the hand when necessary. No more searching for remote controls, no more complicated sets of buttons, just intuitive gesture-based control over all the devices that warrant it. This is the sort of device that could change the way that we use a wide range of devices from the ground up. If enough people begin using this sort of gesture tracker, then more and more devices will start supporting it and this sort of technology will inevitably snowball into something completely mainstream.
Even looking at some of the early concepts listed on the Kickstarter page for the Arcus Motion Analyzer will have you wondering just how far this technology can go. One of the most intriguing traits of the device is the fact that more than one ring can be used at the same time. This means that you could potentially have several fingers controlling different things. Some examples of how this could be implemented are suggested by the developers of the product; grabbing and rotating objects in a 3D space using pinch and drag techniques, gaming functionality where a ring on one finger allows you to aim your ‘hand-gun’ and another allows you to pull the trigger, or even a ring on each hand to manipulated a remote control vehicle. The basic premise of the tech here is so strong that the possibilities for how to use it are near endless. It’s certainly one of the most exciting wearables that we’ve seen in quite some time.
However, the developers behind the device are completely aware that what they are proposing is something of a shift in the way that we control our devices. The crossover to touch screens was something of a slow process for many, and gesture control is even more of an abstract method than that. So, they’re doing everything that they can to make this sort of technology approachable. One aspect of that is the fact that it operates as a fitness tracker, as mentioned before. This lets the user integrate the device into their life before getting into some of the more progressive functionality that it offers. Alongside this is a wide range of different coloured versions of the ring that will allow users to find a style that suits them. There’s understated black designs that make no bones about the fact that this is a tech device, and then more unique variants that have much more unusual designs, making the device look like something of a fashion accessory.
It bodes well for the future of the Arcus Motion Analyzer that the early days of its crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter have been so successful. Nearly $20,000 USD has already been raised to fund the continued development of the device, and that number shows no sign of slowing. In fact, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see this number rise quite sharply in the days to come—a limited number of devices are being released to consumers at early bird prices to try and build some early momentum for the campaign. Two hundred speedy customers will be able to reserve one of the first Arcus Motion Analyzers on the market for the bargain price of $149 USD—some $50 USD off the already-reduced standard price for a Kickstarter purchase of the product. Gesture-based control seems like it could very well be the real deal, and the Arcus Motion Analyzer seems like an effective way of putting this technology in the hands of consumers. It’s very early days yet, but this device is certainly one to watch over the next few years and beyond—if it lives up to its potential, this could be one of the elite pieces of consumer electronics that manages to cross over the broadest swathe of the mainstream.