German firms Vorwerk Teppichwerke and Infineon Technologies have created a "Thinking Carpet", equipped with sensors that can control a whole range of functions.

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A self-organising network of microchips integrated into the flooring can register several sensory signals and analyse them correspondingly.

For instance, pressure sensors can send an alarm as soon as people enter a security zone. The software can analyse the signals individually. Thus an alarm is triggered, say, only when traces of movement commence on a window, but not at free-access entrances. Pressure sensors in the carpet can also be utilised as door-openers and light switches, or as electronic counters for people.

Besides, temperature sensors are able to sport a fire alarm, control the climate, making it possible, say, to regulate humidity.

In combination with LED modules, the carpet can turn into a controllable guidance system: light-emitting diodes in the carpet could mark the way to an emergency exit. The combination of different sensory functions (pressure, temperature and motion) can enable the detection of people lying motionless on the floor, triggering a call for emergency help.

Via PhysComp Notes < Inteletex.

Thanks bev.

Related: interactive walkaways, the healing floors, flying carpet, and the sausage carpets.

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VectraSense Technologies, an MIT spin-off company, has developed a computerized shoe product �Verb for Shoe� that provides computerized shoe adjustments according to your movements and features a series of innovations including:

-- Through a computer peripheral, called a Thinkpod, the shoes can interface with your computer;

-- ThinkShare that creates an exclusive community of Verb for Shoe users, who can exchange business cards and other information through wireless communication between their shoes;

-- ThinkAdjust allows the air bladders in the shoe to be independently adjusted by the wearer;

-- the ShoeDoctor software monitors the shoe�s power usage, air bladder system performance, and motion analysis. When a problem does occur, Customer Support at VectraSense can connect to your shoes across the internet to assist in resolving issues;

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Verb for Shoe builds on VectraSense's first product, the Raven, the world�s first computerized adjustable shoe.

The cost of the basic shoe is $499.99, and fully loaded with all the options, the cost would be $1000.

Via Design Interact.

NetObjects is a collection of everyday objects that give real time a information from the web. The collection has been conceived as an attempt to question the role of networked appliances in the domestic environment.

netObjects are designed for eight stereotypes of media consumers who are fascinated with different types of content and who seldom get online through the computer screen.

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Each object has one very simple and specific function. For example, netGossip is a pot dedicated to the readers of Hello magazine and keeps them posted about the latest (mis)adventures of their favourite stars. netUmbrella, is an umbrella providing you with the weather forecasts, netFlirt is a box that stamps love messages for lonely hearts, netCuckoo is a cuckoo clock that displays news, with a switch to choose between left wing or right wing news, etc.

The project was developed by Hector Serrano (the designer of the swimmingpool lamp) and Victor Via and launched last October 2003 at e-culture fair 2 in Amsterdam. The exhibition consists of eight interactive prototypes, eight photographs, and a video with testimonials of the eight characters of this story.

Via Elastico.

First, the heart monitoring ECG-shirt developed by GEO View and German clothing company FALKE KG. It comes with a high-tech foil that checks the cardiac rate by means of two sensors providing the electrocardiogram.

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The recorded ECG data are transmitted directly via bluetooth to the mobile phone. Data can either be stored in the phone or immediately forwarded to the medical Service Center for analysis.

The incorporated ECG foil may be removed when the shirt is washed.

Via Blueserker.
More pictures.

More heart monitoring, but in an armchair this time:

The EMFiT film (EMFiT = Electro Mechanical Film Technology), created by Finland-based by Emfitech Oy, is used to construct thin and highly sensitive sensors. For example, placed in an armchair, an EMFiT sensor can detect the heartbeat of the person sitting in it, even through their clothing and the chair upholstery.

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The company has also developed a series of products useful for caregivers.

SafeSeat can be used nursing homes where a person is unable to ask for help. The seat generates an audible alarm when an individual at high risk of falling stands up from the seat. The nurse hears it and can come and assist the person.

In addition to utilizing EMFiT technology, other applications rely on the GSM data transmission technology.

For example, SafeFloor can monitor during the night a person suffering from dementia and send a warning on a caregiver's phone as soon as the sensor on the floor next to the bed or the front door is touched.

Via 21f < Heureka.

The Object-Based Media group at the MIT is developing a revolutionary system of computerised fabric patches called BYOB (see the PDF of "Build Your Own Bag".) Each patch contains a functional unit made of a microprocessor and memory plus either a radio transceiver, a sensor, a microphone, batteries or a display.
The patches are joined with a modified Velcro enabling electrical and physical connections.

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The patches can be assembled to create a variety of information-providing or environment-sensing objects according to the way you put them together. The square and triangular patches allow you to fashion, and refashion, objects such as bags, belts, curtains or scarves.

The patches also allow you to swap modules and use the system for many functions. For example, the researchers have made a bag that prevents people forgetting things. A unit is programmed to listen for signals from RFID tags on objects. If it does not detect a required item, the bag uses a voice synthesiser module in another patch to warn: "Cellphone, yes! Wallet, yes! Keys, no!"

A Bluetooth chip will be added so it can connect to the internet and automatically download weather reports. Then it would only speak up if you forgot your umbrella and it was raining. With such add-ons, the system can be upgraded by simply snapping on new sensors. "People would add functionality to their bag, just as they download ring tones for their phones today."

Via Eurekalert.
Related: very smart bags.

Stop & Shop is testing 1,000 carts with wireless computers to allow customers to e-mail their grocery list to the store and call it up on their carts screen.

The "Shopping Buddy" also lists what shoppers bought on their last trip, notifies them a product is on sale as they enter the aisle, where its stocked, creates personalized coupons as they approach an item and allows customers to place a deli order and get a message when its ready.

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In the future, these smart carts would provide personal shopping assistance as: meal planning, sorted by such things as category, favorites, diet type, or preparation time, with supporting content such as health notes, wine information, consumer ratings and gift suggestions, etc.

Ultimately, the personal shopping assistants will allow shoppers to pay at the cart.

IBM, which is creating the carts computers, forecasts that they might cost something between $2,000 and $3,000. Regular old supermarket carts cost about $100 each.

Via The Raw Feed < Sea Coast Online.
Further details in IBM Press Release.

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