As we all sit and wait in anticipation for the Apple iWatch, or whatever it ends up being called, it seems the wearables space is heating up. At International CES 2014, among the crowds of tech pundits and manufacturers vying for attention, a number of devices were revealed and thrust into the wearable technology space.
It feels like no one really knows what the market for wearable tech is yet and very few seemingly have a clear strategy for their products – the wrist looks to be the main target for most companies, but the mainstream market hasn’t really been proven yet. Nevertheless, some interesting devices, and associated software and services, were unveiled this week that caught my eye. Let’s see which succeed in the space that is likely to explode in the remainder of the year.
1. Pebble Steel and Pebble Appstore
Pebble were early entrants in the smart watch game with their original Kickstarter campaign. At CES 2014 they took the wraps off of their highly anticipated follow-up product, the Pebble Steel.
Crafted from steel, in stainless or black matte colorways, with Gorilla Glass and e-paper display, the Pebble Steel looks fantastic and I personally prefer the classic timepiece design over the previous generation model. The tech inside is identical to its predecessor but it makes for a perfect accompanying device for your smartphone – get your notifications and music controls on the device via Bluetooth.
What was more interesting was Pebble’s announcement of its official appstore making it even easier to find apps for all kinds of purposes, giving the device even more uses.
Pebble Steel is available to order now for $249.
2. LG Lifeband Touch and Heart Rate Earphones
Fitness is a specific category of wearables that a few manufactures are banking on. LG revealed its LG Lifeband Touch at CES as well as some interesting Heart Rate Earphones.
The Lifeband Touch, which our buddies at PhoneDog got their hands on, is similar in many ways to the FitBit or Nike FuelBand. Measuring your daily activity, setting goals and providing alerts when you reach them as well as relaying that information to your iOS device via Bluetooth. The Lifeband also has modes for more in-depth tracking for gym sessions or when you’re on a run. And, as it is a watch too, it shows the time on its touchscreen OLED display and can be set to automatically show the time when you turn your wrist which is neat.
What I found more interesting from LG was its Heart Rate Earphones which offer real-time heart monitoring as well as playing your tunes. The earphones, which connect to a small medallion that is strapped on an arm or waistband, track both metabolic rate and maximum oxygen consumption while allowing users to listen to music. How do they work? They function through sensors that measure blood flow through the inner ear and include an accelerometer that collects data on distance, steps, calories and more sending all this biometric data back to your iPhone via Bluetooth.
The Lifeband Touch and Heart Rate Earphones will be available in Q1 of 2014 for around $180 each.
Fitness tracking is not the only area that is proving to be of interest in the wearables space. Sleep is also high up on the priority list – measuring, tracking, analysing and, hopefully, improving it. Basis introduced the newest version of their health tracking wearable device, the Basis Carbon Steel Edition with its intelligent fitness and sleep activity sensors and a more premium look.
But that’s not all that Basis had on show at CES this week. They also debuted their Advanced Sleep Analysis system which leverages the technology of the Basis tracker and provides a comprehensive look at every aspect of your sleep: REM, deep sleep, light sleep, tossing and turning, duration and interruptions to enable you to understand and improve your sleep quality. The whole system looks really interesting and is backed by a lot of research.
Basis Carbon Steel Edition is available to order now for $199 and the Advanced Sleep Analysis software will go live on Jan. 21.
4. Razer Nabu
The Nabu by Razer is a fitness tracking wearable device tracking steps taken and calories burned like many of its competitors in the space with notification support for phone calls, text messages, email, twitter mentions and more. Shaking hands with another Nabu wearer, thanks to its accelerometer, can be set to add them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter (and more in future).
There are a couple of unique aspects of the Nabu, though. Firstly, it has two LED displays, on on either side of the wristband. The top-facing display is smaller and offers impel indicators of notifications, while the larger LED display on the under side shows more information, such as who is calling or a message preview that can be checked discreetly.
What’s more unique is the price – Razer wants to sell the device for $49 initially to developers only and slightly more to consumers.
5. Meta by MetaWatch
MetaWatch is looking to capture the high-end smartwatch market with Meta. The Meta lineup, slated to hit shelves in Spring, will utilise a variety of premium materials, such as aluminium, leather and sapphire mixed with a classically influenced style. It aims to combat the plastic-y feel of smart watches to date and provide a more timeless design aesthetic.
As with many other products in this market, Meta will bring your digital life to the watch face, with support for calls, texts, emails and so on, with weather and date and time information.
There has been no word on pricing, but you can bet that the premium materials and high-fashion ambitions will mean the price is at the top-end of the market.
What have been your favorite wearable devices unveiled at CES 2014? Are you ready to dive into the wearables market or are you holding out for an Apple iWatch? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter: @TodaysiPhone.