International CES 2014 has begun, we’ve talked about Nvidia’s exciting announcement and the entrance of Android into automobiles, but there is a bigger overarching trend when it comes to mobile devices. That trend is wearables.
Wearables are not new. We’ve had them for a while—everything from the Pebble smartwatch to the Sony Smartwatches, and even Google Glass. However this year, wearables are blending and merging in their functions.
Early Monday morning, LG announced a product they are calling the Lifeband Touch. The LG Lifeband Touch is a hybrid between a smartwatch and a fitness monitor. It does all the things we have come to know and love about smartwatches: display time, biometrics, incoming calls, and music controls all on a touch OLED panel. But it adds in functionality of a fitness monitor. The built-in 3-axis accelerometer and altimeter allows the device to accurately measure key performance indicators such as distance, speed, number of steps, calories consumed, and projected pace. The benefit of this is you don’t have to have two devices clipped to you.
Later in the day, Japanese powerhouse Sony unveiled their take on the quantified self. They introduced the smartwear line of products centered on what Sony has dubbed “the core.” This small fitbit-like device takes care of all the monitoring we have come to expect of fitness monitors. This core devices fits into the Sony SmartBand, with is a wristband that snugly hugs the device. The Sony smartwear line of products tries to expand on the standard physical measurement and integrates in the social aspects of your life. It marks whenever you take a photo and other dubious items like “telling you when you have a good morning,” but not elaborating on what that means.
A shocking entry into wearables is printer and projector maker Epson, and they’ve entered the wearable market with a splash. They too have fitness monitors. Epson’s line of products features a breakthrough Epson proprietary heart-rate sensing module that is both accurate and compact and does not require a chest strap. This allows people who are doing aerobics like exercise to stay “in the zone.” This item is another wristband and is called Pulsense.
Finally, Epson takes on Google Glass with glasses that project heads up displays right into your field of vision. Editor-in-Chief Will Verduzco, already talked at length about this so check out his article to find out more.
Of course these are not the only companies making wearables, Pebble released a new smartwatch, a company called fitbug is taking on fitbit in its home turf, and there are many more. And thankfully most of these devices have associated Android apps. In the past, they always released with an iOS app with Android “to be released later.” However, most devices are compete with Android right out of the gate.
So it appears that companies at this year’s CES are turning mobile devices into a database for all the information from all our various sensor based bits and bobs attached to our body. No longer do we carry a device—we will wear our devices, and I think I’m OK with that. As a geek, we love knowing how things work. And with these devices quantifying our movements, we can learn to improve ourselves for the greater good. In the future, you will likely wear many of your mobile devices._________