Nowadays when most people think of wearable technology they think of sports aids that monitor and track your movements or assist with GPS while you exercise. But wearables actually extend beyond this concept to all sorts of new products with a wide range of focuses and capabilities, including eyewear, wristbands, ‘jewellery’ clip-ons, smart watches and wearable cameras like GoPros. A fun, nifty product that we found is the Narrative Clip 2 a wearable camera that takes automatic photos of ‘life as it happens’, which are then shared through its mobile application. These ideas have certainly come a long way from the calculator watch of the 1980’s; arguably one of the first pieces of ‘wearable technology’.
We believe that wearable tech is set to be a big trend in 2015. In fact, according to CSS Insight’s latest global wearables forecast, sales of wearable devices are predicted to jump from 29 million units in 2014 to 172 million by 2018 (globally), with the biggest growth expected to take place this year.
The most popular wearable technology at the moment appears to be the ‘smart watch’. This April, Apple launched the Apple Watch which is available in three versions. Although it is also able to be a fitness and health device, Apple wants it to evolve beyond this with a variety of potential applications. Not only will you be able to receive calls and updates on social media or order an Uber ride from the watch; there are also ideas around letting the watch unlock hotel rooms, assisting you in locating your car in a parking lot and receiving updates from airlines before you catch a flight.
A popular rival to the Apple Watch is the Pebble Steel, also one of the most popular smart watches on the market. It’s simple and elegant design and functionality allows you not only to track your fitness but also control your music, calendar, smart lightbulbs and even your GoPro; plus it boasts up to seven days of battery life.
One of the announcements I find most interesting is that TAG Heuer, the luxury watch brand, has just teamed up with Intel and Google to develop an Android Wear-powered Swiss smart watch. I am really looking forward to seeing what this partnership produces, but it does lead me to wonder whether all watches will be ‘smart’ soon?
As fitness and health continue to be the primary focus of wearable technology in 2015, brands are fiercely competing to bring out fitness trackers that double as watches with multiple features and designs.
At RSAWEB we love our fitness gadgets, especially those that assist us in our running or cycling training. Here are four of my favourites currently available in South Africa:
1. Jawbone UP24 – Bluetooth Sync, Health, Sleep and Activity Tracker
This smart looking strap monitors your sleep and movement patterns and connects via Bluetooth to your mobile device to give you constant feedback and track your improvement, encouraging you to live a healthier lifestyle. You can also log your food and drink consumption each day and set personalised goals, allowing you to track your milestones. Other features include idle alert, smart alarm and multiple apps.
2. Nike+ Sportwatch GPS
The Nike+ is designed to track you when you run, allowing you to monitor your distance, pace, time, splits, elevation, routes and calories as well as create workout reminders, set goals and see your personal bests. As a member of nikeplus.com you can be a part of Nike’s online running community, allowing you to join challenges and connect with friends.
3. Samsung Galaxy Gear 2
The Samsung Gear 2 is compatible with various Galaxy Smartphones and tablets and has seamless integration with call, message and email alerts. At the top end of the market it also has a built-in camera, personalised fitness manager and a music player!
4. Garmin Vivofit Fitness Band
With personalized daily goals, Vivofit learns your current activity level, then assigns an attainable daily goal. As you meet your daily goal, Vivofit will adjust it for the next day, gradually increasing your fitness and healthy lifestyle. Other features include, watch, heart-rate monitor, sleep-rate monitor and movement function which reminds you to move if you have been stationary for more than an hour.