Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - DELL XPS 14Z - BY NANDAGOPAL RAJAN

How many times have you gone to bed re­al­is­ing that you hardly drank any water dur­ing the day or have wo­ken up in the morn­ing re­mem­ber­ing that you for­got to have your medicine the pre­vi­ous night. As our stress­ful lives make us more and more for­get­ful, tech­nol­ogy is com­ing up with so­lu­tions to keep us ahead of the game, quite lit­er­ally. And you are likely go­ing to see a few of these in 2012.

Small sen­sors, hid­den away in gad­gets and even ob­jects of daily use, are now help­ing peo­ple keep bet­ter track of their life. The Hy­dra­coach, for in­stance, is an in­tel­li­gent water bot­tle which cal­cu­lates how much water you should be drink­ing—based of your weight, height and other fac­tors—and keeps re­mind­ing you so that you achieve the goal. A com­bi­na­tion of sen­sors con­nected to a small in­board com­puter tells the bot­tle if you have taken a sip, or for­got­ten to. Don’t be sur­prised if in the com­ing years sim­i­lar tech­nol­ogy makes its way to medicine bot­tles, beep­ing to re­mind you that it’s time for that dose of cough syrup.

And it’s not just about drink­ing water or tak­ing your medicines. Sen­sors could soon be dic­tat­ing ev­ery­thing from when to feed the fam­ily pet to how you brush your teeth, and we are not talk­ing about the dis­tant fu­ture. San Fran­cisco-based Green­goose has al­ready started mar­ket­ing in the US wire­less sticker sen­sors which will let you “play real life”.

Con­fused? Well, the con­cept is sim­ple. Green­goose’s wire­less stick­ers can au­to­mat­i­cally tell what's hap­pen­ing; like some­one us­ing his tooth­brush, or tak­ing the dog for a walk or even us­ing the flush in the loo. The sen­sors then trans­mit the data to a small re­ceiver that at­taches to your home Wifi within a 250 feet range. The data is then used by apps (there is just one iphone app now) for a host of things from real life gam­ing to toi­let train­ing your kid.

While the sen­sors have started ship­ping, the com­pany has now in­vited de­vel­op­ers to come up with apps that put this data to the best use. A day when there will be Face­book posts giv­ing peo­ple badges for the num­ber of times they wa­tered the cac­tus on their desk­top does not seem to be far away. As of now, founder Brian Kre­j­carek is not think­ing of se­ri­ous ‘gam­i­fi­ca­tion’, and is keep­ing it sim­ple with the sole tar­get of fun for the en­tire fam­ily. Af­ter its first re­lease of sen­sors for pets, the com­pany will work on sen­sors that can tab phys­i­cal move­ment in the form of a card that can slip into your wal­let or purse, again open­ing up hun­dreds of pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Green­goose calls it­self green be­cause all its sen­sors can be re­cy­cled once their life­cy­cle -- roughly around a year for the bat­tery -- is over. But other sen­sors are se­ri­ously green. For in­stance, most de­vel­oped coun­tries now man­date that com­mer­cial es­tab­lish­ments should have lights with mo­tion sen­sors to pre­vent wastage. These lights, many of which are also avail­able in In­dia, switch off on their own if it de­tects no hu­man move­ment in its field for a spec­i­fied pe­riod of time. Used in large of­fices and other com­mer­cial build­ings, they can help re­duce power con­sump­tion by as much as 30 per cent. And this is why sen­sors have now started mak­ing more sense.

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