As the business of wearable technology continues to boom, a new University of Colorado technology that allows for the control of electronic devices with one-handed taps, swipes and touches has been optioned to the Boulder company gaugewear Inc.
The new technology can be worn as an adjustable sleeve on the user’s arm or leg or sewn into everything from clothing and backpack straps to dog leashes, allowing “eyes-free” control of a tablet, phone or media player that doesn’t require any precise button touching. The new prototype joins popular wearable high-tech devices ranging from smart watches and fitness bands to headsets and smart gloves.
The option agreement between the University of Colorado Technology Office and gaugewear Inc. resulted from technology developed by two doctoral students in the CU-Boulder computer science department for a second-generation prototype of a radio frequency-based, gesture-input device. The students, Dana Hughes and Halley Profita, work in the lab of CU-Boulder computer science Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll.
The new technology developed by the students can be easily integrated into indoor and outdoor fabrics like jacket material. The sensor enables common gestures, like taps, swipes and touches, directly onto clothing to control and direct electronic devices. This way, you don’t have to physically take out your device on a winter day and struggle to hit the right buttons with frozen fingers to turn up your favorite tune while skiing, snowboarding, running or snowshoeing, for example.
Because of the easy input gesture design, users can control their devices accurately and with minimal effort using Bluetooth, a wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances from fixed or mobile devices. The new gaugeware device can be weatherproofed without decreasing its functionality, making it ideal for all outdoor activities.
The controller is made up of a device that includes a strip about the size of pocket zipper that is attached to a small electronic board. (Watch the gaugewear video of the device in action).
“We are excited about the relationship we’ve established with gaugewear,” said Marta Zgagacz, a licensing associate with the CU Technology Transfer Office. “We thought right away that the on-body wireless controller could be a hit, and gaugewear can provide the kind of attention and support the technology needs to be successful.”
In late 2014, Hughes and Profita showcased their innovative device just before the seventh New Venture Challenge (NVC), CU-Boulder’s cross-campus entrepreneurship competition. NVC mentor Jeff Wallingford, a technology expert and entrepreneur who currently serves as an Executive in Residence at CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, was impressed enough by the invention to found gaugewear Inc. in order to develop and market the device.
“The market for smart apparel and wearable technology is taking off,” said Wallingford. “This invention has the potential to fill a big need in this space: a simple, inexpensive and robust input sensor that is actually part of your clothing.”
About gaugewear Inc.:
Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, gaugewear Inc. is a seed stage start-up focused on wearable technology and smart apparel for athletic performance and occupational safety. Lean more at http://gaugewear.com.
About the CU Technology Transfer Office:
The CU Technology Transfer Office pursues, protects, packages and licenses intellectual property generated from research at the University of Colorado. Tech Transfer provides assistance to faculty, staff and students, as well as to businesses looking to license or invest in CU technology. For more information about technology transfer at CU, visit www.cu.edu/techtransfer.
About the Correll Lab:
Founded by computer science Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll in August 2009, the Correll Lab focuses on practical robot applications targeting major challenges such a sustainable food production and space exploration. The Correll Lab is housed in CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Learn more at http://correll.cs.colorado.edu.
Marta Zgagacz, CU Technology Transfer Office, 303-860-6197
Lola Underwood, CU Technology Transfer Office media relations, 303-860-6201
Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3114