The week in gadgets: hack-proof pockets, Oculus Rift workout and more

22 Dec 2014

Photo by Andrey Kucheruk/Shutterstock

A look at gadget happenings, as Betabrand readies some high-security fashion, Runtastic brings workouts to the virtual world and Microsoft introduces gesture controls for Lumia smartphones.

Hacker-proof fashion from Betabrand

Online fashion retailer Betabrand is preparing to launch clothing that could protect your pockets from hackers.

Expected to go on sale in February 2015, Betabrand’s information-secure jeans and blazer will feature a silver-based material in the pockets to block wireless signals. The clothes have been designed by San Francisco-based Betabrand and developed in conjuction with the award-winning anti-virus firm Norton.

These clothes are a means to prevent ‘digital pickpocketing’, which involves hacking into radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagged passports or contactless payment cards. According to BBC News, this form of high-tech theft has become a growing problem.

RFID technology is also used by NFC chips which are now included in many phones and may also be connected to an account to make contactless payments.

When released, signal-blocking jeans will be priced at US$151 and the blazer will cost US$198.

Runtastic develops virtual-reality workout

Runtastic, the Austria-based start-up behind the eponymous GPS fitness tracking app which has seen millions of downloads, is experimenting with an app built for the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset.

Since Runtastic took off, the company has developed more targeted apps, such as one to help improve sleep and the 7-Minute Workout app. It’s the latter, which instructs users through a short high-intensity exercise session, that will be brought to the Oculus Rift platform.

The virtual reality version of the 7-Minute Workout will use motion capture and 3D avatars as personal trainers, and will allow the user to set their workout against a selected background, such as a hillside, beachside or even a black hole.

“The integration of Runtastic and Oculus Rift offers users a totally new experience,” said Florian Gschwandtner, Runtastic CEO. “This could be a true game-changer for the entire fitness industry.”

Runtastic already has its proof of concept ready for demonstration at CES 2015, the technology trade show taking place in Las Vegas from 6 to 9 January.

“The experience feels unbelievably real and is sure to help people keep motivated and engaged with their fitness routine,” said Gschwandtner.

Microsoft introduces gesture controls for Lumia

Microsoft Gestures Beta is now available to download from the Windows Phone store, giving Lumia owners the ability to control their smartphone’s functionality with touch-free gestures.

With the beta release, users can answer a call by putting the phone to their ear, put the call on speaker by placing the phone on a flat surface with the display facing up, and silence the ringer or mute the mic during a call by flipping the display face-down.

These basic controls bring a bit more fluidity to the smartphone experience and have already been incorporated in other devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy range.

Duet Display turns an iPad into a second monitor

Rahul Dewan, a former Apple engineer who worked on the iPad and iMac, has developed an app that allows users to better connect their iPad to their Mac computer as a second display.

The benefit of using Duet Display to connect these two screens is that, unlike a Wi-Fi connection, there is zero lag, according to Business Insider. It also brings Retina resolution to the dual-screen experience, though this increases the computer’s workload.

The app uses the iPad’s charging cord to connect the two devices and has the added benefit of giving users a touchscreen-enabled second monitor.

Smartphone in jeans pocket image by Andrey Kucheruk via Shutterstock

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.