Dec 18, 2014 | By Alec

Who would have thought that 3D printing would provide the solution to the number one problem that haunts every Christmas? Who doesn't recognize this situation: falling asleep in front of the TV with a stomach full of mince pies, turkey and wine just as the football or a good movie is on.

But this year might be the last time that happens, as two British teenagers have just finished work on a 3D printed solution: a wristband that senses when its wearer falls asleep. When that inevitably occurs at Christmas (or whenever it happens throughout the rest of the year) their KipstR wristband then mimics a TiVo remote by pausing and recording whatever is currently being watched. Your less inebriated family members can then change the channel without interfering with the recording, while you can automatically resume watching once you wake up again.

The two boys, the fifteen-year-old Ryan Oliver and fourteen-year-old Jonathan Kingsley are both students at industry specialists Manchester Creative Studio, and were commissioned by Virgin Media to develop the KipstR wristband. The device therefore works alongside the Virgin Media's TiVo service, which can also be used to pause and resume live TV. The wristband (which hasn't been released yet) will therefore only be available for Virgin Media-users in Britain and will be trialled this Christmas by a select number of customers. Hopefully it will be available next Christmas.

So how does it work? Well, the current prototype KipstR features a pulse-oximeter, a non-invasive device capable of measuring when someone dozes off. For when people fall asleep, the blood flow (and the amount of oxygen that circulates through it), slightly changes, and the oximeter (which is essentially a sensor for your pulse) picks up on that alteration. Theoretically, it future iterations could also be capable of picking up on emotional reactions from viewers, which also affects blood flow.

Its thus a very intriguing little device, all the more so because of the young age of its developers. Both guys had been dabbling with software and engineering since their early childhoods, and jumped at the chance to work with Virgin Media on this project. Neil Illingworth, the head of Advanced Technology and Innovation at Virgin Media told reporters they had been looking for promising young people who could be inspired to pursue an engineering career. 'We discovered a couple of long lads called Ryan and Jonathan, who are fourteen and fifteen and fantastic innovators.'

And the schoolboys from Manchester were very pleased to work with them. 'For us, when we sort of got the e-mail saying 'we want you two specifically to work on this project with us, we had a sense of disbelief. Why pick us out of the thousands of other people you could have gotten involved in the project? But we were to put our skills on the table and start to work with Virgin. […] It was a brilliant challenge for us but we've learnt so much and are really pleased with the end result. […] It's given us a taster for what we would like to do when we leave school and we're excited to see what the next project will bring.'

As Jonathan told reporters, the whole project was an exciting challenge. 'Once we got the initial information on how Virgin Media wanted the KipstR product to be created, we looked into different ways to detect when someone was going to sleep. From there we built a basic circuit using a pulse oximeter that allowed them to communicate with the virgin media TiVo box to allow it to pause and play recording. […]I don't think this is anything someone has ever done before. I reckon this could change the way people use and view television.'

In a nutshell, the boys developed a set-up featuring a spark core chip, pulse-oximeter, sleep mode indicator and a small LiPo battery to power it all. The chip functions as the motherboard of the whole setup, and processes all the data the sensors gather. All of this has then been encased in a housing made from Polyjet resin, printed on an Objet Connex 3D printer. This will obviously be far more durable than many PLA or ABS bands.

The Virgin team are reportedly very pleased with the results. Illingworth went on to state that 'Neil Illingworth, head of advanced technology and innovation at Virgin Media, said: "We have been exploring the possibilities of connected entertainment for some time and are very excited to unveil KipstR. With emerging new technologies, it is possible to create almost anything, such as emotionally intelligent entertainment systems that can suggest shows based on your moods, or even harnessing brainwaves to control your television.'

Now if only we could get our hands on an open-source version that can be made on our own desktop printers. That would be a great Christmas present…

For more on how the KipstR wristband functions, check out this brief clip:


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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dick wrote at 12/19/2014 11:08:08 AM:

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narcoleptic wrote at 12/19/2014 8:53:14 AM:

yeah great if youre narcoleptic

lol lol wrote at 12/19/2014 8:17:26 AM:

LOL, stupid article, because they ONLY 3D printed the arm band, but NONE of the electronic parts. A glowing LED doesn't prove that any other hardware exists in the arm band.

3d printing sucks wrote at 12/18/2014 9:00:20 PM:

Quit trying to hype up 3d printing. That shit has been around for 30 years.

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