For technology companies to showcase the power of multiple sensors and low-power wireless chips, there is no better medium than wearable devices. These technologies are being designed into bracelets, eyewear, smart watches, and a host of other things that people put on and take off.
The past year has produced an onslaught of new (and sometimes odd-looking) wearable devices. The wave of these products has helped fuel the growing hype around wearable devices on the consumer market.
The high-tech industry continues to hold high hopes for its Internet of Things (IoT) — potentially turning every man on Earth into the end node of IoT through wearable devices. But for consumers to get used to the idea of wearing one of those devices to everywhere they go might still take time.
Similarly, the industry will also need more time, bringing down the size and cost of such wearable devices and developing applications and services to make the hardware more effective. Most important will be defining what these wearable gadgets are really for — beyond simply making those who wear them look cool, fit, young, different, and probably sort of twinkly.
The industry, however, is beginning to understand that they can just turn a smartphone into a tiny little device and call it “wearable.”
A case in point is today's smart watches.
We've seen the industry take a serious crack at smart watches this year. Yet, thus far not a single smart watch has become a runaway success on the market.
The truth is that with leading consumer manufacturers including Samsung and Sony jumping on the bandwagon, the smart watch market, without producing clear winners, has turned into “a somewhat crowded affair,” as described by Nitin Bhas, analyst at Juniper Research, in its wearable market forecast report released earlier this week.
As the wearable market still remains in its early phase, the market forecast and product definition are also all over the map.
Juniper Research's latest findings show that smart, wearable device shipments including smart watches and glasses will approach 130 million by 2018, 10 times higher than estimated this year.
ABI Research, meanwhile, pegs wearable wireless device revenues growing to exceed $6 billion in 2018. The firm has broken the wearable device market into four segments — fitness, home monitoring devices (e.g., elderly care), remote patient monitoring, and professional (onsite) healthcare. ABI Research noted that of all the devices it tracked, “sports, fitness, and wellness is the largest, never dropping below 50% share of all device shipments” over the last decade.
The upcoming 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas will showcase a number of wearable devices. They range from a waterproof heads-up monitor for swimming goggle lenses to a brain-sensing headband and a wearable locator/phone designed for kids.
Reflecting the undefined nature of the wearable product category, again, these devices fall all over the place. But the fitness activity tracker still remains a key application for many of these wearable products. The following slideshow offers a glimpse of the wearable future to be shown at CES.
Instabeat is a waterproof heads-up monitor that tracks, stores, and displays instant color-coded heart rate feedback on swimming goggle lenses.
You can now visualize your heart rate zone in real-time on your lens while training. For example, the lens goes blue for fat burning, green for fitness, red for maximum performance. It also measures crucial training parameters, such as calories, laps, flip turns, and breathing pattern.
The goal is to optimize training and streamline performance.
This article originally appeared in EBN's sister publication EETimes.
- Page 2: Brain-Sensing Headband
- Page 3: Impact Indicator
- Page 4: Activity Tracker
- Page 5: Wearable Locator & Phone for Kids
- Page 6: Smart-Sensor Basketball
- Page 7: Streaming Fitness Data
- Page 8: Designer Analog Smart Watch
- Page 9: Washable Speaker-Embedded Headband
Next Page: Brain-Sensing Headband
Muse is a brain-sensing headband, meant to be paired with a tablet or smartphone. It comes with “games and exercises” to improve the brain, according to InteraXon Inc., Muse developer.
Muse detects the electrical frequencies generated from brain neurons as they fire, using six electroencephalography (EEG) sensors, according to the company.
Using recent advances in EEG sensor technology, Muse provides a real-time reading of electrical activity. The five main brainwave bands Muse detects include: delta waves (most present during sleep); theta waves (associated with sleep, very deep relaxation, and visualization); alpha waves (when relaxed and calm); and gamma waves (higher mental activity and consolidation of information).
But why should you care about your brain activity in the first place?
The Muse developer says that its headband allows you to reduce stress and improve memory and concentration.
The company's first application is a “brain trainer,” part of its integrated Brain Health System. The company is promising more “approved” applications to emerge, as its software development kit (SDK) is made available to developers.
Next Page: Impact Indicator
OK. Sports injuries do happen. But too often, we don't know how severe they might be.
The Reebok Checklight is a sports impact indicator.
Multiple motion sensors embedded into a skullcap provide “actionable impact data” to help assess an athlete before continuing to play, according to Reebok. The embedded sensors continuously measure the impacts the athlete experiences and offer coaches, athletic trainers, parents, and athletes a simple visual display of impact severity.
Next Page: Activity Tracker
Polar Loop is a so-called “24/7 activity tracker.” It monitors daily activity and exercise levels.
Combined with a free online tracking service and app, Polar Loop suggests how to make small daily lifestyle changes to improve health and wellbeing.
Equipped with battery life of five days in continuous use, Polar Loop offers:
- An Activity Guide that helps you stay active all day
- An Activity Benefit that gives feedback on daily, weekly, and monthly activity
- A display of daily activity, calories burned, steps taken, time of day
- Free guidance with the Polar Flow app and Polar Flow web service
- Compatibility with Polar H6 and H7 Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensors
- And , it's waterproof!
Next Page: Wearable Locator & Phone for Kids
FiLIP is a wearable locator and phone, contained within one small wristwatch, designed for children.
FiLIP Technology, which developed FiLIP, describes the company's first product as a “patent-pending marriage of assisted GPS, GSM cell tower location, and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation for kids,” calling it “the first location and communication device of its size in the world.”
FiLIP features two-way GSM cellular voice capability and an Intelligent Emergency procedure. When activated, the emergency button triggers an automatic location beacon and an ambient sound recording, and calls each of five contacts until one is reached.
FiLIP can locate your kids wherever they are. To ensure accuracy, FiLIP uses more than just GPS — it utilizes a blend of assisted GPS, GSM cell tower location, and WiFi hotspot triangulation to provide the most accurate location information indoors and out, the company claims.
Next Page: Smart-Sensor Basketball
The 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball is technically not a wearable device.
But its Bluetooth-enabled basketball records and measures every move and skill of a player on the basketball court. When paired with a compatible smartphone, it gives a player objective data and feedback to improve his game, by measuring, tracking, and recording skills.
The ball, developed by InfoMotion Sports Technologies, measures any forces applied to it, spin, acceleration, and others. It gives a full 360 degree view of the ball and the player. It measures everything from shot arc and speed to crossover, dribble force, and more.
- Regulation size, weight, spin, and bounce
- Ultra-durable indoor/outdoor skin
- 8-hour battery life
- Water resistant
- Instant feedback on every shot and dribble
- Up to 90-foot (30-meter) range
- Upgrade sensor software through the phone
- 1-year warranty on electronics and sensors
Next Page: Streaming Fitness Data
Magellan's Echo is a watch designed to stream fitness data from mobile apps to the wearer's wrist in real-time by using Bluetooth Smart.
With your phone tucked away, Echo can remotely control and perform app functions like start, stop, and lap as well as music functions like play/pause and next song. Tapping the screen turns the page to show additional data screens.
Echo does not need to be recharged. It uses ultra-low-power technology and runs off a replaceable coin battery.
Next Page: Designer Analog Smart Watch
The Cogito Pop watch sits at the opposite end of a typical smart watch — where a smartphone is often reduced to the size of a wristwatch.
The Cogito watch is foremost an analog watch. Linked with a smartphone or tablet app, the Cogito watch provides what the company calls “notifications.”
It notifies the wearer with sound, vibration, and color-coded LED lights to signal a call, email, message, etc. Simple icons on the face of the Cogito watch ease scanning.
It uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy wireless technology and is compatible with Bluetooth Smart ready devices.
Next Page: Washable Speaker-Embedded Headband
Say goodbye to uncomfortable ear buds or bulky headphones when you jog.
RunPhones are washable, comfortable headphones designed specifically for exercise.
RunPhones provide “the perfect compromise of music, comfort, convenience, and safety,” according to AcousticSheep, the developer of RunPhones.
RunPhones feature small, removable speakers inside a soft headband that rests on the user's ears. The speakers are thin enough to allow the wearer to hear traffic sounds, says AcousticSheep, which makes jogging safer. The thin speakers in the headband connect with iPhone, iPod, and most other portable music devices that take a standard headphone jack.