From the mind of LaCole

Technology Review: NTT Domoco “UbiButton”

Lost your keys? Forgot to turn off the lights? Locked out of your safe? Well if you wearing a watch you it can come in handy when misfortunes happen. While on a company visit to NTT Docomo, a communications company, I had the privilege to witness a wrist-watch that was a remote control for all expects of life.

Called the “UbiButton,” it is a wearable convenient “full-time” remote control device. The wrist-mounted piece operates by touching the thumb to a fingertip, in an “OK” tapping motion. Using the watch is very easy and it cancels out the need to press small buttons or look for that lost remote in the couch.

The watch is stored with an “UbiChip” and an accelerometer. With the detection circuit of the accelerometer, the chip can be attached to a variety of devices and used for easy operation. The vibrations of our hands from the “OK” action send transmissions to the accelerometer on the inner side of the wrist connecting with other devices. With multiple devices you need multiple codes, using rhythm-based command sets. The commands are like Morse code, with a tapping rhythm designated for each device. About 30 commands can be stored with up to five strokes per rhythm pattern. Just by tapping your fingers you can control appliances around you like televisions and lighting.

Programming works in a very simple two step process. First you tap out a select rhythm while pointing at the device. The action sends out an IR ray beam to selected appliance and blinks in response. After the selection the IR rays allow unified command, controlling only that selected device.

From reading a few reviews and actually testing out the device I believe that Docomo had worked out majority of the kinks. Some worried that the watch could be triggered by just the swinging of your arm. But rest assured it will only communicate with a device with direct impact due to the simple shock senor.

Although it is simple, it does take some practice with getting down the rhythms. Our tour guide advised us to hum or say the rhythms out loud to help with using the watch. During the presentation, our guide showed us how it works in live action. She opened the door with one rhythm, turn on a light with another, turn on the television with a third, and unlock a safe with a fifth. I was really amazed by the watch, that I would actually consider buying on it if it were sold in the US and I owned a home.

Since they have the hardware down pack, they should explore different designs and sizes to meet the needs of all interested. From the models and pictures I seems as a one size fit all type of wrist-watch. They should make more stream line ones for women and smaller sized for children and teens. And try different colors or patterns. Make it look more like a bracelet than a watch and water proof.

Overall, I am definitely sold on this watch, and with little tweaks it can get better. Maybe in the future it will be one the standard device to have for home owners. Or even see if it could start a car, if you always have it on you, you will never have to take it off. I am ready to see further development in the future.


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