COM­PU­TEX: Wear­ables fight back

The China Post - - TAIWAN BUSINESS - BY LAURA MANNERING

The Ap­ple Watch raised the bar for wear­able tech­nol­ogy when it launched in April, but smaller brands are seek­ing their own niche in the battle for wrist space.

New kids on the block at Tai­wan’s COM­PU­TEX tech fair in­sisted that style and sim­plic­ity were more im­por­tant than myr­iad fea­tures, in the face of Ap­ple’s in­tim­i­dat­ing of­fer­ing.

Ap­ple’s iPhone- com­pat­i­ble smart watch en­ables wear­ers to an­swer calls, check emails and ac­cess apps with­out tak­ing their phones out of their pock­ets.

It also tracks fit­ness, plays mu­sic, of­fers cus­tom­iz­a­ble watch faces and comes in dif­fer­ent colors and styles.

“Within con­sumer tech­nol­ogy, smart watches are the big­gest new cat­e­gory since tablets,” said Daniel Matte, U. S.based an­a­lyst for re­search firm Canalys.

“The Ap­ple Watch has very much de­fined the cat­e­gory and set the bench­mark for other ven­dors to fol­low.”

Canalys has fore­cast 20 mil­lion Ap­ple Watch ship­ments for 2015.

“Ven­dors other than Ap­ple are im­prov­ing their de­signs to be more fash­ion­able and of higher qual­ity, but the Ap­ple Watch still has a sig­nif­i­cant de­sign ad­van­tage,” said Matte.

A host of smart watches are on the mar­ket from ma­jor play- ers in­clud­ing Sam­sung, Sony, LG and Mo­torola, with Tai­wan’s Asus launch­ing its new ZenWatch 2 An­droid Wear watch at COM­PU­TEX.

But lesser- known names are also tak­ing their cue from Ap­ple and at­tempt­ing to forge their own di­rec­tion.

“The Ap­ple Watch is free ad­ver­tis­ing for less fa­mous brands like us, be­cause it makes more peo­ple i nter­ested in smart watches,” said Christophe Arathoon of U. S.- based watch- brand Omate, which launched its first smart watch in 2013, crowd­funded by Kick­starter.

Its watches are fash­ion- fo­cused, says Arathoon, with the lat­est “Racer” a rugged sporty model in black, white, grey and red.

It links to iOS and An­droid phones, with wear­ers able to choose which no­ti­fi­ca­tions they re­ceive. It also in­cludes a mu­sic player and pe­dome­ter.

‘Zero fea­tures’

Tai­wanese smart watch “Noo­doe” also trades off its sim­plic­ity — with its founder boasting it has “zero fea­tures.”

The sim­ple black band is billed as the “op­po­site of Ap­ple Watch” but prom­ises to help wear­ers chan­nel their self- ex­pres­sion as they can copy their own hand- drawn images onto its mono­chrome watch face via a cam­era app.

Due to launch later this year for less than US$ 100, it links to smart phones for no­ti­fi­ca­tions but has no fit­ness tracker.

“Most wear­ables of the last two years are more and more fea­ture- cen­tric,” said founder John Wang, a for­mer HTC ex­ec­u­tive.

“What we are try­ing to do is to rec­og­nize that wrist­wear has al­ways been about self-ex­pres­sion.

“In a way, Noo­doe is much closer to Swatch than to most of the wear­ables on the mar­ket to­day.”

Other wear­ables on show at COM­PU­TEX ranged from min­dread­ing head­sets to rings that might save your life.

Sil­i­con Val­ley’s Neu­rosky head­sets — which use EEG sen­sors to read brain ac­tiv­ity — are al­ready on the mar­ket and will be used in new “Star Wars” game “The Force Trainer II,” re­leased in Septem­ber, in which wear­ers can imag­ine and con­trol a holo­gram.

A less ob­tru­sive wear­able from Tai­wan, the Key­dex NFC Ring — a ce­ramic ring which stores data — in­tro­duced its new “SOS” model, which stores the wearer’s med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and can be ac­cessed in an emer­gency with the tap of a smart phone.

AFP

This pic­ture taken on June 2, jour­nal­ists tak­ing pho­tos of smart watches made by Tai­wan’s ASUSTeK Com­puter dur­ing the Com­pu­tex trade show in Taipei. The Ap­ple Watch raised the bar for wear­able tech­nol­ogy when it launched in April, but smaller brands are seek­ing their own niche in the battle for wrist space.

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