What were the best wearables on show at CES 2015?
Picture credit: JINS MEME/YouTube
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is a hub for all types of technology, from smartphones to washing machines. Yet, alongside connected cars, there was a clear appetite for wearable technology at this year’s event.
Recent research from Accenture found that over the next 12 months 12% of consumers plan to buy a wearable fitness monitor, with the same number expected to buy a smartwatch in the same time frame. Within five years, 40% and 41% respectively expect to purchase a fitness monitor and smartwatch.
Plenty of buzz was generated about wearables this time last year, from the LG Lifeband Touch to the Garmin Vivofit. It’s worth noting that while the show gives great insight into the future, plenty of products trialled or announced as beta at CES will end up on the scrapheap too.
There was a significantly greater depth of wearable tech products at CES this year. Ben Wood, mobile and wireless industry analyst for CCS Insight, found it all a little too much at one point:
ZTE Grand Band. Yet another Chinese fitness tracker. Can't get excited anymore... pic.twitter.com/3Yowr12dpS
— Ben Wood (@benwood) January 6, 2015
So of all the products, which were most interesting?
The most interesting piece of kit debuted at Las Vegas this year wasn’t a device at all. Intel unleashed Curie, a Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled processor the size of a button, which CEO Brian Krzanich claimed would be ready in the second half of this year.
The play here is an obvious one; powering wearables that aren’t bulky or ugly. Intel has an extremely strong push into wearables, partnering with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to fuel research into Parkinson’s disease, as well as signing a deal to provide chipsets for the next generation of Google Glass.
Luxury jewellery brand Swarovski, in partnership with Misfit, released two wearables with a certain sense of glamour to them. The former has a crystal face, but of more interest is the latter, which utilises a unique “energy crystal” technology which enables charging through exposure to light.
This plays into a few wearable tech trends; the move towards more fashionable products – note the wearables in Wood’s tweet above – as well as the need for long-lasting, infrequently charging kit. And so back to Intel. Bloomberg put Intel’s very fashionable MICA bracelet, created alongside Opening Ceremony, as one of the worst wearables at CES, because an Intel executive was overheard saying “if I don’t use it very much the battery will almost last all day.”
Let’s face it: one of the reasons why the initial iteration of Google Glass bombed in the consumer market was because of its aesthetics, or lack of them. Japan-based tech firm JINS MEME has come up with a potential solution, showing off what seems to be a regular pair of glasses.
According to Neowin, the glasses have 16 hours of battery life, while an accelerometer, gyroscope sensors, Bluetooth and microUSB charging port are located on the temple tips. The product will reportedly be available in Spring 2015.
It’s not the only product JINS MEME makes; a pair of sunglasses released last year can track eye activity and assess tiredness levels. A report from Juniper Research in November found there was a “slow path to social acceptance” for smart glasses.
The themes pervading wearables at CES in 2015 are clear: moving towards more fashionable products, longer battery life, as well as – most importantly – hiding the technology and not making it a hindrance to users. Only then will wearable tech truly take off.
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