Notch: The future of smart apparel is … later

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Notch is a BLE-enabled activity tracking puck with an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. At least it was – the campaign was canceled when it managed to raise only $10k of its $100k goal after 10 days.

The creators are adamant they will relaunch in January 2014 with better technical information and marketing, and I hope they do. Unlike other activity trackers, users are expected to wear multiple Notch units in specially designed clothing, creating a sensor network with the potential to capture and reconstruct more intricate body movements.

In a market already flooded with wristworn activity trackers, Notch represents the leading edge of a trend towards smart apparel. That’s not to say it’s without issue:

  • At a cost of $50 per unit and the need for specially modified clothing, the complete package is expensive (especially after factoring in the additional units I’ll need after accidentally putting my first set through the wash).
  • Notch does not make any specific claims about battery life, but the inclusion of a power-hungry gyroscope will limit them to a day at most.
  • Units are bulky (see the photo above).
  • The loose-fitting apparel, though more stylish than the spandex abominations body suits of their competitor Athos, will introduce considerable measurement noise.
  • They mention that the enclosure’s base is constructed from aluminum, which could attenuate radio performance if not carefully designed.
  • Unlike their competitor OMsignal, Notch makes no attempt to record biometric data such as heart rate and respiration. Then again, unlike OMsignal, Notch has publicly demonstrated a working prototype.

We’ll see how these concerns are addressed if and when they relaunch.

Unfortunately, by delaying, they may have missed their opportunity to corner the mood sweater market for really, really, ridiculously good looking people.

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