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Wearable Tech

DIY fitness tracker: zOrigin wearable kit arrives in August for $149

An open platform and chipset aim to make a new world of custom-made smart shoes, clothes, trackers, watches and who knows what else.

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The zOrigin chipset lets you make and customize wearable tech.

zGlue

Will wearable tech end up being the next hackable maker frontier? Maybe, like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, we'll see homemade smartwatches and heart rate monitors next.

That's the plan for zGlue, whose zOrigin is a chipset and platform to create wearable tech on your own. The zOrigin is aiming at becoming a reference design and a way for anyone building something wearable to have a starting point with basic elements.

zOrigin is a little self-contained chipset that has an ARM Cortex M0 processor, accelerometer, contact-based heart rate monitor, temperature sensor, vibrating motor, LED, 25mAh rechargeable battery and Bluetooth LE radio. Basically, has the key parts of what would be in the average fitness tracker. The developer kit launching on CrowdSupply costs $149 (roughly converted to £110 or AU$200) and ships in late August.

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zOrigin, with enclosure, as tracker bracelet/jewelry.

zGlue

From there, where it could go is anyone's guess. zGlue suggests "panic buttons, smart jewelry, shoe insoles, and fitness/health bands," among the possibilities. (My recent test of Pizza Hut's "smart shoes" revealed they were basically using some basic smart buttons inside: zOrigin's hardware could go a lot further.)

The company's also launching a web tool to design other stackable chip designs for custom projects, called ZiP, if you want to get even crazier with your ideas.

zOrigin's debuting at San Francisco's Maker Faire, where it's being presented by Misfit founder Sonny Vu. Vu's original Misfit Shine was one of the first jewelry-like, super-small trackers, designed like a glowing futuristic coin. It could snap into accessories and be somewhat modular. zOrigin seems like the path for even more inventive types of DIY wearables, provided you're a developer or maker who's willing to tinker.