The Curiscope Virtuali-Tee is one of our favorite uses of mobile augmented reality technology, as it neatly combines educational benefits with some jaw-dropping visuals that inspire both awe and yucks. The newest addition to the app is a way to measure your heart rate using the camera on the phone, and then visualize it in real time on the T-shirt itself. Yes, really.
If you’re not familiar with it, the Virtuali-Tee is a specially designed T-shirt that when looked at through a smartphone, suddenly comes to life and reveals a window into the wearer’s body. Curiscope first made the T-shirt available through Kickstarter in 2016, and since the end of the successful campaign, the company has produced several other exciting virtual and augmented reality projects, including Operation Apex, a VR undersea adventure with a conservation twist.
The heart rate tracker update to Virtuali-Tee is technically impressive, yet very simple for everyone to use. It works through a technique called contact photoplethysmography. By using images obtained by placing your finger over the phone’s camera lens, where it measures the amount of light it sees, the app can work out your pulse. You’re guided through the process in the app, and the end result is as polished as we’ve come to expect from Curiscope.
When the camera sees the Virtuali-Tee T-shirt, it adds a beating heart on to the already incredible-looking, anatomically accurate image of your insides. Sound gross? Well, it is a bit; but that’s half the appeal. If you’re wondering why you’d want such a thing, not only is it an awesome way to really demonstrate how cool AR technology is, but it’s a fantastic piece of educational tech, too. Because the heart rate is displayed in real time, it’s a perfect way to visually show kids the impact of exercise, and how the body changes from rest.
Curiscope often gets asked whether what the app shows on the T-shirt is actually the person’s organs, and the answer until now has always been no. That line is blurred with the heart rate tracking, as it genuinely is an image of what’s happening inside the body. If you already own a Virtuali-Tee, the heart rate tracking feature is available as an app update now. For those who now want one of the most unusual pieces of AR tech we’ve used, then it’s yours for just $30, or 25 British pounds, through Amazon or Curiscope’s own website.
- The best fitness apps for the Apple Watch
- The best astronomy apps for iOS and Android
- The future of augmented reality is earbuds, not eyeglasses
- The best VR apps for 2021
- The 15 coolest gadgets at CES 2021