Is 2014 the year of wearable tech?
Despite promise for a number of years 2014 finally looks like the year that wearable technology will move into the mainstream. With most of the major technology players looking or rumoured to be releasing some form of wearable tech we take a look at some of the available and upcoming products.
Undoubtedly the first thing that comes to mind when discussing wearable tech is Google and their Glass project. Described simply by some as a wearable camera, it looks similar to a pair of glasses. It offers not just a camera but also the ability to Google search, get directions and share content to your social media just by using your voice. Currently the Glass project is only available to a select group of users as Google look to test and improve a product which has been labelled by some as ugly, expensive and intrusive but with new designs and the option to add prescription lenses will Google Glass be available to the public sometime in 2014?
The project is not without its share of controversy as a driver in California recently had her driving ban overturned, originally given for wearing Google Glass while driving, as there was no proof that the device was switched on. Following on from this the states of Wyoming, Delaware, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia in the US are all looking to already place a ban on wearing/using Google Glass while driving before it is even publicly available.
For Samsung 2013 was a great year as the South Korean company furthered their lead as the dominant force in the smartphone market with a 30% market share of all smartphone handsets. They also looked to get ahead of their rivals by surprisingly entering the wearable tech market with the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The Gear is a smartwatch that connects exclusively to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, with the watch acting more like a 2nd screen to the 5.7 inch handset providing notifications from the phone, voice control and the novelty of a small camera placed on the watch itself. Critically panned for its poor battery life, ugly design and expensive price (currently £299) the watch on launch had a very small select group of apps, with only a few developers being given access to create apps. With the Gear 2 rumoured for launch in 2014 will Samsung get it right second time around?
One smartwatch that is receiving a lot of media attention is the Pebble. Originally started as a Kickstarter project it ended making over $10,000,000 in pledges despite a target of $100,000. It currently connects to either iOS or Android smartphones via Bluetooth and there are already a number of apps available from companies including Mercedes, ESPN and FourSquare with a public software development kit (SDK) promised soon. With it’s attractive design and relatively low price (starting at $150) will the Pebble be able to take an early lead in the smartwatch market?
Sony released their Smartwatch 2 late in 2013 to some critical acclaim. It currently runs Android and can connect to any Android device running Android 4.0 or later using NFC. With it’s simple and stylish design and modest entry price (currently £150) could Sony be a surprising leader in the smartwatch market?
Another notable entry into the smartwatch market include the Cookoo, looking like a traditional watch it boasts the best battery life as it uses a standard watch battery and low entry price (currently $129.99), it connects to any iOS 7 or Android 4.3 device via bluetooth and a dedicated native app. Perhaps the best feature of the Cookoo is a find my phone function which with a simple button will sound an alert on your phone!
Alongside smartwatches the rise in fitness based wearable tech is on the rise most notably the Nike+ Fuelband. The fuel band can help track your movements using GPS and monitor the number of calories you burn throughout the day, sending the data to Nike’s servers where you can review your progress either on the web or through dedicated iOS and Android apps.
So with it’s rivals all scheduled or rumoured to be moving into the wearable tech it remains to be seen what Apple’s response will be. Rumoured to be announcing a smartwatch at some point in 2014 will Apple be able to catch its rivals and maintain its position as the top innovator in mobile technology?
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