Virgin Media ‘KipstR’ Wristband Pauses TV If You Fall Asleep

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Virgin Media says KipstR could be used to control smart homes in the future

Two teenage developers have created a smart wristband that pauses or records television programmes when it detects a person has fallen asleep and could be used to power other devices around the home – saving households energy and money.

The ‘KipstR’ wristband was commissioned by Virgin Media and uses an pulse-oximeter to detect a user’s heartrate to see if they are asleep, before sending a signal to a TiVo box to pause or record the TV.

When the wristband detects the user has woken up, it can trigger the TiVo to resume the programme.

KipstR wristband

Virgin Media Kipstr 2The 3D-printed device is still only a prototype, but could eventually be used to control things like central heating, and also detect TV viewers emotions to improve the recommendations they receive on TiVo.

“We have been exploring the possibilities of connected entertainment for some time and are very excited to unveil KipstR,” said Neil Illingworth, head of advanced technology and innovation at Virgin Media. “With emerging new technologies, it is possible to create almost anything, such as emotionally intelligent entertainment systems that can suggest shows based on your moods, or even harnessing brainwaves to control your television.”

KipstR was created by Ryan Oliver, 15 and Jonathan Kingsley, 14 as part of Virgin Media’s ‘Switched on Futures’ initiative, and both were delighted to get involved with the project.

“We jumped at the chance to work with the Virgin Media team on this project, it was a brilliant challenge for us but we’ve learnt so much and are really pleased with the end result,” said Oliver.

“We have really enjoyed working alongside the innovation team at Virgin Media,” added Kingsley. “It’s given us a taster for what we would like to do when we leave school. We’re excited to see what the next project with Virgin Media will bring.”

Competitive market

Despite a two percent year on year increase in revenues in the most recent quarter, Virgin Media added just 5,100 new TV customers.

However two thirds of its users take ‘triple play’ pacakges of landline, broadband and television services and 17 percent take all three and a mobile contract as part of a ‘quad play’ deal.

Although the KipstR isn’t yet a commercial reality, perhaps Virgin Media hopes novel features will help its platform stand out in an increasingly competitive communications market populated by the likes of Sky, TalkTalk and BT.

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