Wearables have gotten smaller and less obtrusive over the years, culminating in today’s compact fitness trackers and smartwatches that stay immobile and out of the way. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Researchers at MIT and Stanford teamed up to develop Rovables, miniature robots chock full of sensors that roam around the human body while the wearer goes about their lives.
This gives them an edge over traditional static wearables, the research teams says in their paper: Rovables might seamlessly assemble into a wristwatch or nametag, reacting to the host or the environment. The bots are little bigger than a ring box, but they pack a microcontroller, wireless communications and a battery that powers them for 45 minutes of continual use. Their magnetic gripping wheels on either side of clothing let them crawl up, down and around unmodified garments.