12 Feb CES 2015: A Glimpse Into The Future Of Wearables
Smartwatches, fitness trackers and smart glasses.
According to research firm Canalys, wearable band shipments reached 5 million in Q3 2014, a 37% quarter on quarter increase. Despite this increase, however, wearable technology hasn’t quite taken off as well as predicted. In fact, a study by Nielsen found that a surprising 70% of people are aware of wearable technology, however only 16% of consumers actually own a wearable device.
While there are a variety of factors attributed to the slow adoption of wearable technology, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) showcased some great new devices that may just ignite the spark.
When looking for a way to relieve pain, pills are usually the first thing we reach for.
One wearable displayed by wearable medical technology developer NeuroMetrix at CES 2015, hopes to reduce our dependency on medication to manage pain.
Quell, a band that attaches to your calf, uses Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) technology to stimulate our brain’s natural opiates. Quell contains electrical leads that make contact with your calf, which applies small electrical currents to the surface of your skin. These electrical impulses travel from your calf to your lower brain, which then releases the body’s natural opiates to help relieve pain.
NeuroMetrix has also designed an iPhone app to monitor and learn about sleep quality for optimal results.
Quell will be available in Australia in autumn this year. Australian pricing has not yet been announced, but the wearable will retail for US$250.
Though smartwatches offer some great functionality, their adoption has been somewhat hampered by chunky, unappealing designs.
However, luxury watchmaker Montblanc may just have solved this problem.
Montblanc’s e-Strap places the focus back on elegant watch design, without sacrificing smartwatch functionality. Instead of simply replacing the traditional watch face with a touch sensitive digital screen, the e-Strap has both.
The 0.9inch OLED touchscreen display sits on the underside of the watches’ leather strap, while the analogue watch face retains its traditional place on top of the wrist. This is where smartphone notifications such as incoming calls, messages, calendar and social media notifications will display via Bluetooth. The e-Strap also allows you to control your smartphone’s music player and camera.
While Montblanc has announced pricing for the e-Strap (US$300), availability is still unknown.
Withings Activité Pop
The elegant timepiece offers fitness tracker functionality, however there are no flashing lights and no chunky touchscreen displays. The watch simply records activity data such as steps, distance and sleep as well as the calories expended by the activity. If you’re more of a swimmer, you’ll be happy to know the 30m waterproof Activité can automatically detect when you are swimming and record it as activity.
This data is then sent to your iPhone via low-energy Bluetooth, which is accessed via the free Withins Health Mate app (an app for Android is on its way). Though much of the data is viewed via the app, Withings has included a rather clever design element on the watch face to help you monitor your steps throughout the day. The subtle, secondary dial displays the steps you have taken, counted by the internal accelerometers. Aside from its great design, the best feature of the Activité is its battery life. Due to its conservative energy consumption, the Activité is reported to have an 8-month battery life.
International availability of the Activité Pop is expected in March. No Australian pricing has been announced, however it will retail for US$150 in the U.S.
Jins Meme Glasses
They may look like regular prescription glasses, but Jins Meme smart glasses contain a number of accelerometers, velocity sensors and electrodes to capture data. More specifically, these smart glasses can analyse posture, count the number of steps taken and track eye movement and blinking.
The aim of collecting this data is to track the onset of fatigue and proactively warn the wearer.
Jins representative, Lilian Wouters, explained at CES, “Say you’re driving long-distance, and you’re really tired, (the glasses will notice) and your smartphone will alert you to pull over and rest.”
The collected data is sent via Bluetooth to its companion app for iOS, Android and Windows. The app will be able to show you whether you have bad posture or balance, in addition to calorie burn and number of steps taken.
Jins expect the Meme to be available in the U.S. and Japan later this year, however pricing has yet to be announced. No word yet on Australian availability.
From pain relieving bands, to fatigue monitoring smart glasses, the wearables displayed at this year’s CES have given us an exciting glimpse into the next generation of wearables. Moving away from fitness trackers and smartwatches that display smartphone notifications, wearable technology has great potential for collecting and analysing more data than ever before.
What are your thoughts on the wearables displayed at CES 2015? What was your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!