Glam­orous geek gad­gets

Fi­nally, con­sumers are get­ting a glimpse of wear­able tech­nol­ogy that is as much about form as func­tion, writes Rod Chester

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH -

WHEN it comes to wear­able tech­nol­ogy, most of the prod­ucts that prom­ise to change our lives have been all about the gad­getry and less about the glam­our.

Af­ter Google Glass spec­ta­cles were launched two years ago, there was a string of pub­lic­ity shots of fash­ion mod­els wear­ing them down the cat­walk.

The re­al­ity of Google Glass is they have only been avail­able to early ex­plor­ers, happy to be the uber geeks.

De­spite a lack of ap­peal in the fash­ion stakes, wear­able tech­nol­ogy was one of the key trends at last month’s In­ter­na­tional Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in Las Ve­gas.

Re­search firm Gart­ner pre­dicted wear­able com­put­ers would be a $ 10 bil­lion mar­ket by 2016.

Some of the new­est tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts un­veiled at the CES show sev­eral com­pa­nies haven’t learnt not ev­ery­one wants to wear tech­nol­ogy that makes them look like they are wear­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Ep­son launched the Moverio BT200 smart glasses, which project semi- trans­par­ent data screens into one’s vi­sion, while Pana­sonic launched the HX- A100 4K- ca­pa­ble wa­ter cam­era. Both showed clever tech­nol­ogy but, ar­guably, a sense of fash­ion not as smart.

How­ever, there are signs the next wave of wear­able tech­nol­ogy is con­sid­er­ing form as well as func­tion.

Peb­ble launched its sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion smart­watch, the Peb­ble Steel, which still of­fers a five to seven- day bat­tery life with a sleek new de­sign.

Some com­pa­nies are pitch­ing tech­nol­ogy that is built into clothes in an un­ob­tru­sive way, such as the Sen­so­ria Fit­ness Bra by Heap­sy­lon, which has a built- in heart rate mon­i­tor, and the Foot­log­ger, which is an ac­tiv­ity tracker built into the in­ner­sole of a shoe.

In­tel Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Brian Krzanich, speak­ing in a keynote ad­dress at CES, said a big prob­lem with wear­able de­vices was they of­ten needed to con­nect to another de­vice. Another prob­lem, Krzanich said, was many wear­able de­vices were gim­micks that did not ac­tu­ally solve real prob­lems.

“Wear­ables are not ev­ery­where to­day be­cause they aren’t yet solv­ing real prob­lems and they aren’t yet in­te­grated with our life­styles,” he said.

“We are in the midst of a trans­for­ma­tion, from a world of screens and de­vices to a world of ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Per­haps the real hope for geek- minded fash­ion­istas is the col­lab­o­ra­tions chip- maker In­tel is mak­ing as it seeks to turn its “in­ter­net of things” from a phrase full of mar­ket­ing prom­ise to one of re­al­ity.

At CES, In­tel un­veiled the Edi­son chip, which is the size of an SD card for a cam­era but is a tiny com­puter with built- in wi- fi and Blue­tooth that can be em­bed­ded right into cloth­ing and other prod­ucts.

The first prod­uct to hit the mar­ket pow­ered by an In­tel Edi­son is Mimo’s Baby prod­uct line, in­clud­ing a baby’s jump­suit that mon­i­tors breath­ing, skin tem­per­a­ture and sleep­ing po­si­tion, and trans­mits that data to a smart­phone app.

In­tel also an­nounced an in­ter­na­tional “Make it Wear­able” com­pe­ti­tion to en­cour­age new forms of wear­able gad­gets by fund­ing start- up ideas.

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