Wearables Walk the Runway at CES 2014
(LAS VEGAS) — Barely a week into the new year, and it’s already looking like a new electronics war is brewing.
Just like how companies battled over tablets and video game consoles in 2013, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in Las Vegas from Jan. 7 to 10, is shaping up to be the breakout year of wearable electronics.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Google Glass both showed last year that mobile devices could have a home outside of your pocket or backpack. Both devices may have some problems — like compatibility issues or limited functionality — but these kinks are slowly getting ironed out, setting up 2014 as a year that wearables finally cross over into the mainstream.
At the very least, many companies are willing to give them a shot. Plenty of CES exhibitions displayed products that are trying to change people’s perceptions of the wearable electronics.
Whether it’s making them more fashionable or giving them a wider range of features, the tech industry is doing all that it can to turn wearables around and make them popular.
Smartwatches — Pebble Steel
Pebble started mass producing its first smartwatch early last year and they have since landed onto the wrists of hundreds of thousands of customers. For their next trick, the Kickstarter success story is classing up its act with the Pebble Steel. The new watch is offering a spin on classic design, looking like the type people used to wear before relying on smartphones to tell time. Instead of using rubber or silicone for the watch bands, the Steel comes with a leather or steel strap. Pebble also announced the Pebble app store. Customers will no longer need to rely on third-party sites to customize their watches. Instead, a dedicated downloadable section will appear in the Pebble app for both Android and iOS.
Fitness Trackers — Garmin Vivofit
The GPS manufacturer is looking to hop outside the car and track your daily activity. The Vivofit, the company’s first fitness tracker, is joining Fitbit and Jawbone to act as your personal trainer. In addition to tracking where you’ve run and for how long, the Vivofit will also give its owner goals to strive for. As you exercise and get past certain fitness benchmarks, the Vivofit will adjust the goal to make you work a little harder the next time. Fitbit, meanwhile, is looking to spruce up its appearance. The company has enlisted the help of fashion designer Tory Burch to update its design to look less like a Livestrong bracelet and more like a high-end accessory.
Smart Earbuds — Intel’s Smart Earbuds
Why limit fitness trackers to your wrist? At Intel’s keynote on Monday, CEO Brian Krzanich showed off a pair of earbuds that do many of the same things. The new earbuds draw power directly from your phone’s headphone jack, eliminating the need for a separate battery. The new headphones are also equipped with sensors that detect your heartbeat, and can use that data to decide what songs pop up next on your workout mix. So if you’re starting to slack off, expect a stirring rendition of Rocky’s theme music to get you pumped.
Smart Jewelry — CSR Bluetooth Jewelry
Like Pebble, CSR also knows that a customer won’t use a wearable if it doesn’t look good. Enter its yet-to-be-named line of Bluetooth enabled jewelry. The wearer can customize the necklace’s color and brightness to their heart’s content. iOS users will get an extra benefit to the jewelry over their Android cohorts. CSR’s microprocessor can also be linked to the Apple Notification Center Service on iOS 7. Any email or text sent to the iPhone will send a notification over to the necklace.
Smart Glasses — Moverio BT-200
Google Glass isn’t the only wearable computer. Epson upgraded its own glasses display, resulting in the Moverio BT-200. Unlike Glass’ single projector, the BT-200 will have two and project images directly to both lenses. Thanks to the dual projectors, the Moverio can offer a more immersive experience than Glass can, particularly with augmented reality applications. Yahoo News also reports that the device can be used to pair with your HDMI displays, such as your cable box.
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