Next time you see someone talking with their hand on the ear with no phone but just a watch on the wrist, don’t be bewildered, they must be using the HBand. It is a valid doubt that would arise to anyone on how can a band or watch replace a phone? But, HBand, a wearable tech clears all these questions with its unique concept, which will help one talk without a phone.
HBand is a luxury leather watch strap which is compatible with most of the smartwatches. It has a built-in Bluetooth audio fob which compensates the need of a phone during a call.This compact Bluetooth headset is embedded in the watch strap and is ultra slim and easily removable from the strap, thereby making it both audio on the wrist and headset on the wrist. It is a product that is designed and made in India for global market
The private calling feature
The evolution of mobile phones has been advancing to such an extent to putting call features in the smartwatches. This helps the scenarios when the phone is lost and solves some of the usual mobile phone issues, but none of them provides call handling in a private mode.HBand completes Apple or other Smartwatch by adding the private call feature which they lack.
HBand uses the patented hands-on talk technology to provide private calling experience. The user would just have to flip open fob and raise his hand to ear to take the phone call without reaching for his or her phone. The user’s hand becomes the phone answering device. HBand provides phone call convenience in two ways that are the hands-on mode and the headset mode.
Hands-on and headset mode
When a user gets a phone call, he flips open the fob on this watch, holds the hand to ear and starts taking on the call. There is no need to reach for his phone and rush to pick it up; his call is always on his wrist. This is called hands-on mode and is the ideal solution for a quick phone call. If he must take a long call, he can pull out the fob from the watch strap, insert in the ear and use the device like a normal Bluetooth headset, his Bluetooth headset is always on his wristwatch. This is called the headset mode.
The mechanism of this wearable tech
The directional audio is fired from the bottom of the wrist at higher volume and pressures with sufficient back-volume towards to the palm of the user. When the palm is held in cupped position to ear, the palm acts like a parabolic reflector and redirects the sound to the ear. This wearable tech uses a micro speaker with suitably designed acoustics to provide partial directivity to sound fired towards the user’s ear. Although the typical audio is omnidirectional, by firing at close range with proper openings, partial directivity can be given to the audio. HBand uses normal micro speakers with suitably designed back volume, front volume and opening to provide partial directivity. This method thereby gives partial to full private sound.
Bluetooth and the microphone
The electronics and the technology used are similar to the basic Bluetooth headset. To meet the higher volumes required for hands-on private calling, the amplification circuits of a basic headset is modified. A couple of hardware is used to make this concept possible, the first essential one being the Bluetooth communication module to have two-way audio to the phone. A directional speaker is used to fire the audio to the user’s hand and an omnidirectional microphone placed beside the speaker reads the user’s speech. There are noise cancellation algorithms are included to cancel the wind and other surrounding noise. The watch strap is made of high-quality Italian leather with quick snap magnetic buckle. The buckle also provides docking for the Bluetooth audio fob.
Some of the watches that H-Band will work with are:
Shrinking circuits to fit the mechanical complexity
“The biggest challenge was to shrink the circuits and achieve speaker back volumes in a slim form factor suitable for the wrist,” says Ram Pattikonda, CTO, iMetrix Technology. HBand has a new strap clasping concept that accommodates the slim fob on the wrist and achieves fob open and pulls out at ease, without adding to the thickness on the wrist. The electronics and the audio acoustics are miniaturised, while the maintaining style and its multi-function capability. The HBand product development has taken about 1.5 years because of the delays in plastic tooling, packaging and integration due to the mechanical complexity of the product. The electronics, though complex the iMetrix team could design it in less than six months.
The essentials are always on your wrist
Almost all smartwatches provide the facilities like music, call display weather information, message notifications etc. HBand enhances these features with its audio support and easy to handle mechanical structure thereby placing all the essentials at wrist tips. The next version is aimed at better product design and touch button facilities. HBand is a unique product in the market with the private calling feature with hand to ear and hands-free mode. “While tip-talk from Samsung has launched a product recently with private call feature, it is much bulkier and more than double the price of our HBand, ” says Ram Pattikonda, CTO, iMetrix Technology.
HBand Audio Features
HB band has a US patent on hands-on private calling, firing of the audio from the bottom of the wrist and using the hand as redirection to ear and the usage of this idea in smartwatches and other wearables.The working is as simple as shown in the video.
With interesting combinations of innovative mechanical, electronics and acoustic designs, HBand, a wearable tech proves to be a convenient product whereas a user can always carry his call or music on his wrist. H Band is launched in India and US and levels up the ordinary smartwatches to a great extent. The team continues to work on adding additional features like fitness and sleep tracker, high-resolution OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) display, a notification with scrolling text, one-week battery life and more, thereby giving us more interesting features to look forward to.
For more such interesting wearable tech, Read more.
Ankita K.S. is audience development editor at EFY, and secretary of IEEE-YP.