If 2014 could be said to be the year of anything (and it’s already said to be the year of lots of things), it might be the year that wearable technology breaks out of tight tech-industry circles and into the general public’s consciousness. The most obvious part of this will be the wide release of Google’s (News - Alert) wearable glasses device, Google Glass. The product, which is already being tested by 10,000 early “Explorers,” will be available sometime this year.
For those who aren’t quite ready to put their wireless device on their faces, the other option will be wrist-based technology, and there are quite a few contenders for market share here. Anyone who is anyone in the tech industry is already wearing Jawbone’s UP wrist band, a biomonitoring bracelet that tracks the wearer’s movement and idle time, offering reminders to move if the wearer has been idle too long, and includes an alarm that will wake the wearer after an optimum amount of sleep (or for a 26.5 minute power nap, considered the perfect nap length). The stylish UP wrist band currently works in conjunction with a smart phone app that allows the wearer to attain the perfect balance of activity and rest.
Also on the smartwatch front, Sony will continue to push for market share with its Xperia S Smartwatch, which looks more like a normal watch than many of the other models on the market. One of the most talked about products, however, is Samsung’s Galaxy Gear watch, which is pushing fashion at least as hard as it’s pushing utility. The South Korean tech giant partnered with designer Dana Lorenz to create a line of fashionable jewelry meant to accompany the Galaxy Gear device. So far, the company is offering spiky metal charms that can attach to the watch's strap, and eventually may debut a customizable wrist band. This move, many say, is to attract more women to smartwatches. Also hoping to grab more women is the Bia GPS smartwatch, a fitness watch designed by women for women. The device features a GPS-based safety feature that will allow family members or law enforcement to locate the wearer should she become a victim of a crime.
Adidas has also entered into the smartwatch market place with the debut of its miCoach SMART RUN watch, which the company says was designed to provide an “advanced, intuitive blend of coaching and performance data designed to help serious runners maximize training every time.” It allows the user to plan distance and route, set pace, monitor heart rate and track how far you have run.
Currently, one of the most popular smartwatches is the Pebble Smartwatch, which was launched thanks to skillful crowdfunding. The device has apps for just about everything, including notifications of texts and emails from the paired smartphone. You can also track your exercise, receive news alerts and control your music while you drive. This may continue to be a favorite in the marketplace thanks to its reasonable price tag (News - Alert): $249, compared to $500 and up for most watches on the market.
Beyond watches, the next few years may see the debut of smart jewelry, including rings that vibrate when the wearer receives a message. Look for the winter holidays of 2014 to be the year everyone is purchasing wrist computers and billions of dollars of associated paraphernalia.
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