A Wall-Mounted Sensor Can Track Your Movement Better Than a FitBit

Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

Hsu et. al, CSAIL [PDF]

The way that a person walks can contain important information about their health. In 2011, a University of Pittsburgh study found that walking speeds could predict life expectancy. Now, MIT researchers have found an easy way to monitor how fast people are walking at home, as The Verge reports.

The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)—which has previously debuted technology to help people learn languages and evaluate their selfies—is working on a wall-mounted sensor that can track people’s movements via radio signals. WiGait sends out low-radiation signals that reflect off a person’s body as they walk through the room, then calculates how fast that person is moving based on how the signals come back. It’s 95 to 99 percent accurate at measuring people’s walking speeds and stride lengths, according to MIT. The team behind the device claims it is more accurate than trackers like FitBit, which don't measure velocity or stride length, just step numbers. WiGait can recognize the movements of up to four different people in a room and works at distances of up to 40 feet, including through walls.

The technology could be used to study older people’s walking speeds at home to analyze their health without requiring them to wear an intrusive wristband or other wearable device. Walking speed can be an indicator of a person’s risks for future falls and hospitalizations, and WiGait could be used to monitor patients with a high risk of falling or cognitive decline, especially in assisted-living homes.

The CSAIL research [PDF] tested out WiGait in 14 different homes, and found that users tended to forget it was there after a few days, and preferred it to the idea of installing a camera-based monitoring device in their home. Most people don’t want to be recorded 24/7, but radio signals that only recognize movement might be a more acceptable way to collect data on people’s gait speeds at home, where, in the case of older people with limited mobility, they probably spend most of their time.

[h/t The Verge]

Mickey Mouse Is Getting His Own Beats By Dre Headphones

Beats, Amazon
Beats, Amazon

Since debuting in a black-and-white cartoon in 1928, Mickey Mouse has grown into an icon recognized around the world. To celebrate the character's 90th birthday, Beats by Dre has designed him his very own pair of Solo3s, The Verge reports.

The special-edition, wireless headphones depict a pattern of classic Mickeys against a gray background. They come in a gray felt carrying case—a nod to the material used to make the Mickey Mouse ears sold at Disney parks. The purchase also includes an enamel pin and decal sticker commemorating the anniversary.

At $329.95, the Mickey headphones cost about $30 more than conventional Solo3 headphones, but it's not unusual for Beats to charge extra for limited-edition designs. In 2014, the company released Hello Kitty Solo2s for the character's 40th anniversary for $50 more than the headphones' standard selling price.

The Mickey Beats will be available starting November 11—a few days before the 90th anniversary of the premiere of Steamboat Willie. You can pre-order them on Amazon today.

[h/t The Verge]

This Smart Mug Alerts You When You've Had Too Much Caffeine


Since 2010, Ember has been giving perfectionists ultimate control over their morning coffee. Their travel mug lets you set the preferred temperature of your drink down to the degree when you're on the go, and their ceramic cup allows you to do the same in the office or at home. Now, in addition to telling you how hot your beverage is at all times, Ember lets you know how much caffeine you're consuming through Apple's Health app, CNET reports.

Ember's new feature takes advantage of the same Bluetooth technology that lets you control the temperature of you drink from your smartphone. Beginning October 17, you can connect your Ember vessel to your Apple device to keep track of what you're drinking. If you drink all your tea and coffee from an Ember mug, the Health app should be able to give you a rough estimate of your daily caffeine intake.

Ember wasn't originally designed to measure caffeine content, but its built-in sensors allow it do so. In order to maintain a constant temperature, the mug needs to know whether it's full or empty, and exactly how much liquid it's holding at any given time. The feature also gives you the option to preset your serving size within the app if you drink the same amount of coffee everyday. And if you like to drink specific beverages at their recommended temperatures, the mug can guess what type of drink it's holding based on how hot it is.

The new caffeine-calculating feature from Ember is especially useful for coffee addicts: If the mug senses you've exceeded your recommended caffeine intake for the day, it will alert you on your phone. Here are some energizing caffeine alternatives to keep that from happening.

[h/t CNET]