Wearable technology is in the midst of a transitional period, moving from fanciful, off-the-wall ideas to more refined products for the real world. CES 2014 provides a snapshot on how far along these devices have come, with smartwatches like the Pebble Steel and Meta now looking a lot more like classic mechanical timepieces. For them and the rest of the newly announced wearables at the Vegas show, stay tuned to this stream.
Jan 10, 2014
MetaWatch's big announcement this week was the launch of its new Meta branding and design philosophy. The company is ditching its old, utilitarian smartwatches and replacing them with more elegant designs that take cues from the world of traditional watches. The man behind the new design is Frank Nuovo, the founder of Vertu and designer of many of Nokia's most iconic phones. Nuovo sat down with The Verge to chat about design, smartwatches, and where we're at in the world of smartphones.Read Article >
Jan 8, 2014
Wearables are everywhere. It's hard to find a big technology company at CES this year that isn't unveiling a gadget that straps a sensor or a display to your body in one way or another. The idea is nothing new, but we're seeing companies start to make more of them, in more forms, that can perform more functions. To see exactly what these manufacturers are turning their wearables into, we're looking across some of the most exciting, intriguing, and gorgeous products that have been announced so far.Read Article >
What wearables enthusiasts will be most happy to see is the emergence of increasingly premium smartwatches. Both Pebble and MetaWatch have unveiled new designs this year that are highlighted by strong, industrial-metal styles. They're both huge steps up from their former plastic builds, and they bring smartwatches ever closer to matching up with the quality of analog watches.
Jan 8, 2014
Every year there are a few obvious trends at CES, and this year wearables are everywhere. We've seen fitness tracker announcements from Sony, Intel, Garmin, and one rather surprising candidate: Razer. Best known for its stylish peripherals and gaming laptops, the company is jumping into the fray with a smartwatch and tracking band mash-up called the Razer Nabu. It's a stylish band that melds smartphone notifications with a suite of fitness-tracking features, but unlike its competitors — who focus primarily on all-in-one turnkey solutions — Razer is hoping third-party developers will take the reins and turn the Nabu into a full-fledged platform.Read Article >
"We've been working on the Nabu band for about three and half years," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan. "So we've looked at everything from smartwatches to fitness bands along the way, and we were pretty unhappy with the state of things." Smartwatches often suffer from mediocre battery life, he says, while fitness bands have a hard time retaining users after the honeymoon period ends. Razer's approach was to think of the device in broader terms: less of a single-use device, and more of a lifestyle-focused accessory.
Jan 8, 2014
MetaWatch's new Meta smartwatches are looking to be the answer to the plastic, nerdy-looking smartwatches that have flooded the market of late. Featuring a design by former Vertu designer Frank Nuovo, the new Meta watches give aesthetics and comfort as much priority as the watch's actual smart functionality.Read Article >
Though MetaWatch doesn't expect to launch the Meta until later this year, we were able to take a brief look an early prototype device. This particular unit had an aluminum chassis and leather wrist strap, but MetaWatch intends to produce versions with a variety of different materials and finishes.
Jan 7, 2014
It's coming up on a year since Google began shipping Glass to its first round of public testers. In that time, wearable computing has become the buzzword for the entire consumer electronics industry. But the core capabilities of a Google Glass-like device – capturing hands-free photos, video, and audio in real-time, and instantly sharing it with others – may appeal more to blue collar businesses than to ordinary consumers. Enter XOne.Read Article >
The first product from Nashville, Tennessee-based startup XO Eye Technologies and five years in the making, XOne is a set of safety glasses designed to bring skilled labor jobs into the future. The glasses look like safety equipment designed by Daft Punk – solid, ruggedized, shiny plastic frames housing colorful, flickering LEDs and releasing a disconcerting amount of heat from the left side. The also lack the most eye-catching feature of Google Glass, a tiny cubic screen that sits in front of a lens. Instead they rely entirely on audio and LEDs to communicate messages to the wearer. The XO Eye team is still finalizing the frames they are aiming to ship to their first customers in the spring, at a to-be-determined cost of between $400 to $600 a pop, plus a $199-per-month subscription software package.
Jan 7, 2014Read Article >
Intel just announced that in the coming year, it's partnering with fashion industry leaders like Barneys, The Council of Fashion Designers of America (the CFDA), and global fashion retailer Opening Ceremony to develop smart wristwear. The first product of the collaboration will be a smart bracelet concept powered by Intel technology and designed by Opening Ceremony. Barneys will carry the smart bracelet, Intel says, but there's no word on exactly what the bracelet will do. Will it bear Bluetooth and LEDs that flash when you get a text, perhaps, or NFC Swarovski crystals? We'll have to wait and see.
Jan 7, 2014
Sony's not new to the wearable market, but the company just entered the fitness-tracking market in a big way — during its CES press conference, the company announced Core. It's a tiny chip that Sony called perhaps the tiniest gadget it has ever made, and the company's planning to put it into a number of products, starting with a smartband that'll be released this spring. Core will include the typical fitness-tracking metrics, but Sony says it'll also function as more of a life journal as well, tracking photos you took, "special moments," and other live events — kind of like the Day One journaling app with a fitness tracker.Read Article >
Jan 7, 2014
Along with the odd and unique Projector Hotspot, ZTE is showing off its first venture into wearable technology at CES this year. The BlueWatch is the company's first smartwatch effort, but it will look awfully familiar to anyone that's seen a Pebble before. In fact, it’s so similar looking, if the branding were to be removed from the front of it, you’d be hard pressed to tell it apart from a Pebble.Read Article >
The BlueWatch has three buttons on the left and one on its right — just like the Pebble — and uses a magnetically attached USB cable to charge its battery, again, just like the Pebble. Its black and white e-paper display is almost identical to the Pebble’s, though the ZTE’s weak backlighting is not nearly as uniform or bright.
Jan 6, 2014
CES 2013 was the big coming-out party for the original Pebble smartwatch and now, a year later, CES 2014 is hosting the launch of the startup's second device, the Pebble Steel. It costs $100 more than the original — which will continue to be available as the entry-level Pebble — and adds a touch of classic watch design, underpinned by the use of higher-end materials.Read Article >
Sprouting as a Kickstarter success from the remains of the unfruitful inPulse smartwatch project, Pebble is a company familiar with both the ups and downs of the tech industry. It’s now riding the crest of a great wave of popularity that’s only been gaining momentum through the last year. What does 2014 hold for the small team from Silicon Valley?
Jan 6, 2014
Garmin was long known for being one of the biggest providers of GPS units, but smartphones have done a good job at shrinking its market pretty significantly. At CES, the company announced a new plan to stay relevant — it’ll focus on the booming wearables market with its new Vivofit fitness band. The Vivofit bears a strong resemblance to other options like the Nike+ Fuelband and the Fitbit Force. It’s a wrist-worn fitness tracker with a small screen that logs your steps and activity level, though Garmin is including a few new features that it hopes will help the product stand out in an ever-crowded field.Read Article >
For starters, Vivofit will start off by learning your activity level — once it figures out a baseline, it’ll automatically assign you what it thinks will be an achievable daily goal. Once you start catching up to that goal and meet milestones, it’ll update your goal for the following day. The Vivofit also capitalizes on the thought that people are healthier when they get out of their chairs and enjoy small bits of activity throughout the day — if a user has been sitting inactive for more than an hour, the Vivofit will show a red bar that builds up as you stay stationary. But if you get up and get moving, you can get yourself "out of the red." Those who want to get more information out of the Vivofit can pair it with a heart-rate monitor and get more accurate calorie burn details for activities and, obviously, a recording of their heart rate.
Jan 6, 2014
MetaWatch, the smartwatch company born from ex-Fossil engineers, is launching a new brand of devices called Meta. Meta watches differ from the company's earlier efforts in that they have as much of a focus on design and aesthetics as they do on functionality.Read Article >
One of the biggest criticisms leveraged against smartwatches is that they are just ugly and not something that most people care to wear on their wrists. MetaWatch's earlier models, the Strata and Frame, were more about utility than aesthetics, and aren't designs that appeal to fashion-conscious consumers (though the Frame is arguably still one of the better-looking smartwatches on the market). The Pebble has long been criticized for being too plasticky and cheap feeling, and while traditional watchmakers such as Citizen have entered the smartwatch market, they have yet to make much of a dent. For the most part, smartwatches are devices built by nerds for nerds, but not something the average watch buyer wants.