Guest blog entry by Sarah Hawley, Executive Assistant at CSOFT
While Smartphone apps to monitor everything from heart rate, diet and exercise regimes, to sleeping patterns are already widely and inexpensively available, the next step is a product which cuts out the middleman of your Smartphone. Wearable technology is here and you can get almost anything imaginable. These days you can get your hands on a sweatband with built-in headphones and personal trainer, a bracelet manifesting as merely jewelry that tracks your UV exposure to monitor tanning progress and prevent sunburn or a light-up umbrella. If they don’t sound appealing, you’d best get ready to embrace the wearable gadgets as Forbes has already dubbed 2014 as ‘The Year of Wearable Technology.’
Smartbands such as the Nike+ FuelBand, which tracks your activity and calories burnt during the day—be it a morning jog or an evening night out dancing—have been on the market since 2012, but now more and more products are hitting the shelves. Some of the newest gadgets are more focused on looks; some are more focused on technology.
Fortunately we’ve come a long way since the Bluetooth dress designed as part of a competition with Sony Ericsson and the London College of Fashion in 2009, or even worse the eyesore product the USB tie. For those of you who love your gadgets but aren’t willing to splash the cash unless the technology is matched by design, the tech industry is finally ready to give you what you want.
One example of this next phase in fashionable tech is Rusty’s Wired Series, a hoody where the drawstrings double-up as earphones. This not only means you won’t forget your headphones when leaving home in a rush, but you also don’t need to give getting tangled up—or wires ruining your outfit—a second thought. And before you ask, yes the earphones are machine washable, therefore waterproof. Practical and pretty. What’s not to like?
Combine this hoody with a T-shirt that monitors your heart rate, not through any electrodes or cables, but through the actual fibers of the material. The apparel monitors your heart rate, breathing and activity and then syncs this information in real time with your Smartphone. Sounds perfect for exercising in, possibly underneath the ‘wired’ hoody. Let’s just hope the material isn’t itchy!
It seems that the next big thing is going to be the Smartwatch. Although there are several huge companies producing this kind of thing, and some like the Pebble Steel are actually not bad looking, a first-glance wouldn’t make you think wow, high tech bling. But for me, the product that stands out is the newly announced, Finnish produced Creoir Ibis.
Similar in terms of technology to Samsung’s Gear 2 and the Sony SmartWatch 2, it has a custom user interface and is compatible with both iOS and Android OS devices meaning that you can receive notifications from your mobile phone on the face of your watch. The difference between this product and that produced by the two tech giants is style. Creoir is first and foremost a design company and the watch is sleek stainless steel and crystal. The watch itself would never jump out at you as being anything other than a normal, fashionable bracelet-style watch, it’s strength lies in that it is genuinely a piece of jewelry. So for those who want a product that is truly wearable but also provides a little bit extra, this is the product for you.
An unlikely item to associate with technology but one that has the potential to revolutionize both the catwalk and people’s lives is the Sony Smartwig. This device enables you to communicate with other gadgets and other wigs, as well as providing functions that can aid the blind in navigating through GPS and Wi-Fi “vibration commands.” The Smartwig can be made of almost any material imaginable from your typical hair to feathers or ribbons.
Technological advances are not only aimed at the blind, but those that are hard of hearing or deaf may be able to benefit from an iPhone-friendly device and app recently unveiled at the Barcelona Mobile World Conference. The app works by allowing the user to adjust the sound based on the environment directly from their Smartphone. The Smartphone will also remember these settings and gives the option of using them when returning to this same location. These advancements will mean that hearing-aid users can be much less conspicuous when adjusting the device out in public and eventually the app could store all the settings for various locations meaning that the aid automatically adjusts.
Everyone has heard of Google Glass, and pretentious as they may be, it’s the tip of the iceberg where wearable technology is concerned. The $1,500 price tag might mean many people will never try Google Glass let alone think about purchasing them, but there’s an array of products out there now, and even more to come. So even if you have a small budget, grab yourself one of Huawei’s ‘hybrid’ talk bands which at 99 Euros are much cheaper and not quite as geeky as many of its competitors. Either that or get your hands on a mood-detecting sweater which changes color to reflect your emotions. Right now there’s something for almost every budget, even for the most fashion-conscious of tech lovers.
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