Virgin Media has teamed up with two teenagers to create a wearable that even Homer Simpson would love. Called KipstR, the 3D-printed wristband can tell your DVR to pause or record what you're watching if you happen to fall asleep in front of the TV.
To figure out whether you're asleep or in a TV-induced coma, KipstR ("kip" is british slang for nap) monitors you via a pulse oximeter. If the gadget determines you're asleep, the wearable can mimic a DVR remote to tell it to pause or record whatever you were watching.
There's also a resume feature that presumably will switch the program back on if you wake up again. KipstR was designed to work with TiVo DVRs.
The story behind the story: KipstR isn't the first time we've seen a wearable using this basic concept. In February, Netflix engineers tried out something similar during a company hack day. The engineers used a Fitbit wristband to detect whether a viewer was asleep and then pause what they were watching. The viewer could then resume their program later. Netflix has no current plans to release the feature.
U.K. pilot project
Whether you're talking about KipstR or Netflix, this wearable idea is an incredibly practical solution to an admittedly trivial first-world problem. KipstR appears closer to reality, in any case, because Virgin Media plans to launch a trial for the product in 2015 in the U.K. It wouldn't be surprising to see KipstR, or an imitator, start working with a U.S. cable provider soon.
KipstR was created by Ryan Oliver, 15 and Jonathan Kingsley, 14 two students at the Manchester Creative Studio in the U.K. The students developed the gadget as part of Virgin Media's "Switched on Futures" initiative, a program to encourage coding and hardware hacking among students.