Before we think about nearables; lets go back a few years. Back in the day shops and businesses where digitised using RFID tags that covered everything from lose prevention in shops and libraries (shop lifting to you and I) to providing payment systems like the Octopus and Oystercard. RFID tags are passive devices with a small amount of information on them; electromagnetic waves from a reader ‘powered’ them allowing the data to be read. In essence RFID is rather like the magnetic strip that used to be on the back of credit cards, bank deposit books and on some passports.
Estimote’s Wearables product takes the RFID tag and asks what could be done if the tag became active, self-powered. It is compliant with Apple’s iBeacon standard using low-powered Bluetooth LE radio transmissions to interact with a smartphone.
Estimote defines the nearables as:
… a smart, connected object that broadcasts data about its location, motion and temperature.
The information that nearables can provide can be dynamic, based on simple sensors included in the electronics package. At the moment nearables in sticker form cost some $33/unit and a default battery life for three years.
This initial version of nearables might be of interest for high value package tracking, like a consignment of vintage wine, fragile museum pieces or high end cigars.
Although this seems like limited technology at the moment, imagine what improvements could be brought in over future evolutions of it. If I had been told about this in my 20s, I would have thought that nearables came out of the wild imaginings of a James Bond film or similar. Now its aimed at high end supply chain management and logistics.
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