Warning: this post is NOT about identity. It’s one of my occasional gadget related posts. Also: you do remember this is my personal blog, I don’t speak on behalf of my employer, etc etc, right? Just making sure we’re on the same page here Smile

 

If you have been reading this post for some time, you know that I am both a gadget nut and a big fan of the Quantified Self movement: I started tracking ~10 years ago with an analog scale, an old Polar heart monitor and Excel; added a sleeptracker back in 2007, a Garmin heart monitor/GPS/cadence tracker, a Withings wifi scale and had FitBit units record my every move since their very first version.
You can imagine my joy when I found out that Mario and Maurizio – long time friends who followed my same trajectory from Microsoft’s Italian subsidiary to the Redmond headquarters and are now entrepreneurs – announced that they were going to introduce an even more sophisticated way of tracking your data. They call it Sensoria Smart Sock Fitness Tracker.

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The idea is as simple as it is, IMO, revolutionary: you wear a pair of socks, connect a small anklet, and go ahead to do whatever activity you want to do. As simple as that.
The socks are made of special (regularly washable!) fabric, which is sensitive to pressure in strategic points on the foot surface. The anklet gathers the data from the sock, combines it with the output of some sensors of its own (accelerometer, altimeter) and beams it via Bluetooth Low Energy to whatever device understands BLE. The result is a blend of data that can paint a far more accurate picture than the classic step counting we are used to. How you put down your foot counts, as I discovered earlier this year: my slightly uneven stride got me a nice patellar tendinitis, which forced me to suspend all leg exercises for 1.5 months. With Sensoria I would have seen that asymmetry and course-correct before it would have had time to whip my tendon. Also, I am getting old… but let’s not digress Smile 

The above was already enough for me to hit indiegogo and reserve my socks-anklet pair, but what pushed me to write this post is that these guys are now also featuring an SDK that you can use for harnessing Sensoria’s data in your own applications.

To me, that’s huge. I don’t think we realize what sophisticated motor skills we have to develop as we grow up for mastering deceivingly simple tasks such as standing up, walking, running and the like. Those are all skills that, with proper body instrumentation, could be leveraged in other realms. Besides the natural applications for fitness, which Sensoria handles out of the box, I believe there are tons of areas where both data naturally produced and harnessing foot-related motor skills can be leveraged to create more NUI (Natural User Interface) experiences. Gaming comes  to mind! Smile
For example: call it professional bias, but the first thing I thought was: could this be used as some kind of biometric authentication factor, to be plugged in directly in one of those new Multi-Factor Authentication extensions for ADFS in Windows Server 2012 R2? Imagine if just walking to your workstation would be enough for the PC to recognize your gait Smile Note, I did not do any experiments to see if it is indeed possible to extract a “signature” that is unique & repeatable: that’s just an idea at this point!

To get an idea of what developing with Sensoria would feel like, I asked Maurizio to give me some screenshots of the tools they are using in-house for R&D. Here they are:

 

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This is the pressure map. The sensor areas are strategically placed to capture the most salient data. Once the data is analyzed in a dynamic context, the way in which pressure is distributed through the foot can be interpolated even for areas between sensors.

 

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This is the full dashboard. As you can see, besides the direct raw data feed there are a number of ways in which you can put the data in context.

 

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I like how this example shows the clarity with which Sensoria can distinguish between different activities.

 

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Finally, a couple of traces showing off the fine level of details afforded by having sensors through the foot surface.

 

Well, at this point I am sure it’s clear I am excited about this! But hey, don’t take my word for it Smile check out the impressive press coverage those guys already got: http://www.heapsylon.com/media/

If you are a Quantified Self or fitness nut (I’ll let you guess which category I belong to) Sensoria is a very interesting addition to your arsenal. And if you are a developer interested in NUI, Quantified Self or wearable computing, I believe that the Sensoria SDK can unlock one of the most promising and less explored frontiers today. If you want to be among the first to get one, the Indiegogo campaign is still going!

 

One Response to Sensoria Developer Kit: a Great Way of Contributing to the Quantified Self & NUI Movements

  1. Mario says:

    Thanks for the review, very well examined and explained!

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