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