Tech Tats: The Future of Wearables?

What if in the future, instead of going to the doctor when you felt ill, you could apply a Tech Tattoo to your skin and then read your vital statistics using an app on your smartphone? According to the R&D Magazine website, that's exactly the technology that a US mobile software design studio is currently developing.

Based in Austin, Texas, a team at Chaotic Moon is working on a project called Tech Tats, which has the potential to transform the healthcare industry, among others.

As the company's creative technologist Eric Schneider explains, rather than having an annual physical check-up at the doctor, the Tech Tattoo "can be something that you just put on your body [...] and it monitors everything [...] sends that to your doctor, and if there's an issue, they could call you."

The technology, he continues, is able to look at "early signs of fever, your vital signs, heart rate, everything that it needs to look at to notify you that you're getting sick, or your child is getting sick."

Vice's Motherboard website provides further details on how Tech Tats would work. The device uses electro-conductive paint to transfer data from the in-built temperature sensors to an ATiny85 microcontroller.

As well as the medical and healthcare industries, Schneider notes that this could also be leveraged in the banking and financial world too. So, rather than carrying around out cards and wallets, the proof of identity needed to make a purchase can be found right within the user's skin.

Tech Tats represent the latest move in the field of wearable technology, and although the company has yet to name a price for the product, it is likely to accessible for many - perhaps even with the option to buy them in bulk.

What the Future of Working at Home May Look Like

With flexible and remote working options set to become even more popular than they already are, the Wall Street Journal decided to offer some predictions about how the future of working from home is going to look.

The publication highlights that more than half of organizations registered in the US are now based from home; yet so few residential properties are equipped to accommodate business use, as most are designed only to be living spaces.

Finding the balance between these two conflicting uses of a space can result in a lack of efficiency. But throughout the world, innovative structures are being designed that resolve some of the biggest issues facing home-based businesses, and could set a standard for homes - and workplaces - of the future.

One example of such a structure is the Veld van Klanken (Field of Sounds) development in the Netherlands. Designed to solve the problem of disturbing the neighbours - a common concern for those running a business from home - the site features 30 music studios buried beneath a large central mound of grass, soundproofing the activity inside. Surrounding the workspace are two-storey homes, while the hill provides a communal space for musicians to meet and children to play.

Another example is the Batle Studio development in San Francisco, US. You may think it wouldn't be possible to integrate a manufacturing business into a home, but that's just what entrepreneur Agelio Batle and his wife Delia have managed to achieve. The small business creates graphite art objects so the building combines a studio, showroom, workshops and an office on the ground floor; and a domestic space for the family upstairs. However, the two spaces are fluid and employees can use the home if they need some private time, just as the couple's children can work on art projects downstairs at the end of the working day.

Innovative concepts such as these show that the nature of work as we know it is changing, with the divide between home and the office becoming increasingly blurred.

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Can retail robots entice people back into stores?

As the digital world expands, more of our shopping is done online than ever before and physical retail stores are feeling the effects. But a recent ZD Net article asks if the tools of online shopping could be harnessed IRL (in real life!) and, if so, whether they could tempt shoppers away from their computers and mobile devices.

Online retailers such as Amazon and UK supermarket Ocado have been using technology to push the boundaries of delivery. By combining automation in their warehouses with predictive analytics, they can deliver products almost as soon as they have been ordered - giving customers a faster and more efficient shopping experience.

But brick-and-mortar retailers have been much slower to embrace these solutions - that is, automation and analytics - which could help them compete with the online world.

One startup company, Simbe Robotics, is hoping to change this with the launch of a new retail robot. Shelf auditing and product analytics are two of the most strategically crucial aspects of selling physical products today; in fact, retailers across the globe lose $450 billion each year due to empty shelves or items being out of stock.

As Simbe Robotics' CEO and co-founder, Brad Bogolea, explains: "Shopper experience is everything. If a product is unavailable at the time the shopper wants to buy it, the retailer has missed an opportunity and disappointed their customer."

So far, IT solutions have helped human employees with the task of shelf auditing. But the low-paid, repetitive nature of the work means that there is a lot of scope for human error; which is where autonomous machines can help.

According to an official statement from Simbe, its mobile robot Tally can navigate itself through physical retail spaces to "capture, report, and analyze the state and availability of merchandise and help ensure compliance with the store's planogram."

Even better, it can operate during business hours as state-of-the-art route planning and sensory technology prevent it from bumping into people and/or objects.

Tally is currently being trialled in North America, so it could only be a matter of time before it spreads to even more physical stores.