Editor’s note: Wearable sensors are likely to provide a new range of applications in safety equipment that will be especially useful to industrial athletes such as wind turbine technicians.
BeBop Sensors Inc. www.bebopsensors.com, the wearable sensor technology company created by musical instrument inventor Keith McMillen and KMI, has announced their first product, the BeBop Wearable Smart Fabric Sensor, the first ultra thin and wearable smart-fabric sensor that measures all aspects of physical activity such as bending, location, motion, rotation, angle, and torque.
These fabric sensors provide continuous real-time reporting on force, x and y location, bend, twist, size, stretch, and motion for markets, including clothing and protective wear, shoes, healthcare devices, athletic equipment, automotive, robotics, aerospace, gaming, biometrics, prosthetics, recycling monitors and appliance markets.
Unlike other wearable sensors that only measure physiology (EKG, EMG), electrical conductivity or breathing, BeBop sensors measure and display 3D maps of data. Fundamental, tested, and extensible with over a million sensors already in daily use through KMI’s musical instrument products, BeBop’s Monolithic Fabric Sensors integrate sensors, traces, and electronics into a single piece of fabric to provide greater sensitivity, resolution, range of deployment, and robustness — all with a tiny size.
BeBop sensor technology was created after six years of developing smart fabric sensors for more expressive musical instruments. After being approached by numerous companies requesting KMI’s fabric sensor technology, KMI launched spin-off company BeBop Sensors to fulfill demand.
BeBop’s solutions available now for integration into new wearable products includes:
- Wearable controllers for sleeves of jackets or shirts to connect to smartphones to answer calls, adjust volume, or select songs, all while the smartphone remains in the user’s pocket.
- 1-mm thin shoe Insoles measures gait, pressure, contact style, fit, and flexure of toes and feet.
- Planar, spherical or cylindrical geometries work as pressure maps, head sensors, or handles of athletic equipment.
- Smart yoga and gym mats show hand and foot pressure for teaching.
- Grip sensors detail finger positions for baseball, golf, and other sports and work.
- Car seat application senses airbag fill volume and passenger weight.
- Car steering wheels sense driver alertness.
- Weight lifting gloves indicate weight and even load.
- Foot volume sensing anticipates diabetic events.
- Cycling shoe inserts power meters.
“BeBop is a natural step for KMI, where we have diligently tuned fabrics, geometries, and production processes allowing us to ship over 1 million sensors to some of the most demanding musicians in the world,” said Keith McMillen, Founder, KMI and BeBop Sensors. “All musical instruments are essentially sensors with forms of acoustic processing attached. The same care and creativity used to build our instruments will serve well for our non-musical customers as we expand into the wearables market.”
BeBop is now offering custom turnkey sensor solutions for OEMs to incorporate into their products, ranging from basic sensors to complete wireless solutions with advanced power management. Visualization programs for any design with an easily-modified SDK (Software Developer’s Kit) allows manufacturers to create custom apps by choosing from a variety of 2D and 3D representations and colors or by driving the BeBop data into whole new applications.
“Good designs get the job done, great designs strive for an elegance and simplicity that will make the integration of wearable computing a seamless part of everyday life,” said McMillen. When he created a foot controller allowing disabled people complete control of a computer, Forbes reported: “In 1984, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs made the computer mouse mainstream. In 2010, Microsoft introduced the Kinect, letting computer gamers control video games by moving their bodies. And on June 21, 2011, Keith McMillen Instruments introduced a gadget that lets you use your computer with your feet.” See demonstrations at the BeBop Sensors website.
Filed Under: News, Sensors