There's a Smartphone Inside

by Luke Wroblewski January 18, 2012

Technology has a way of eating itself. Products that once seemed like the future get subsumed by the next generation of gadgets. Consider the DVD player now a feature of laptop computers and cars. Or the Instant Messenger client now just a feature on many Web sites and apps. Our latest technical marvel, the smartphone, isn't immune from this trend as a lot of the innovative sensors within smartphones are currently making their way into a new batch of products.

The Nest Learning Thermostat has a collection of six sensors inside which measure and track temperature, ambient light, humidity, near-field & far-field motion. Nest's motions sensors have a 150° wide-angle view so it knows when people are not at home. Three temperature sensors make sure reading are highly accurate. It has WiFi connectivity that allows you to control the device using a Web site or an iOS application. Nest uses its Wi-Fi connection to keep an eye on current weather conditions and forecasts so it can understand how the outside temperature affects your energy use. Not coincidentally, the Nest also has enough CPU to power a smartphone.

Smartphone Inside

The Nike+ Fuelband is a personal activity tracker with a built-in 3 axis accelerometer that measures motion all day long, an ambient light sensor that detects environmental light levels, and Bluetooth connectivity for wireless connections to the Nike+ mobile application and Web site.

Smartphone Inside Shoes

The MiCoach Speed Cell from Adidas snaps into soccer player uniforms and shoes. It uses radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, motion sensors and accelerometers to customise appearance, fit and responsiveness. The Speed Cell tracks pace and distance, average and maximum speed, distance covered at high intensity and acceleration. Future versions will transmit data to the cloud.

As this trend continues, more digital product design will consist of designing for sensors.