The biggest consumer technology show, the CES, started last Tuesday. Our CEO, Christian Stammel, is in Las Vegas and thrilled that one of the biggest trends to watch in consumer technology from the CES 2014 are wearable technologies – they are everywhere. As expected, and predicted at our Wearable Technologies Conference in San Francisco last year, wearables are truly taking off. A slew of wearable devices and applications were announced during the first few days of CES, especially smartwatches and wristbands. Nearly every big tech company announced a product that can be worn close to or on the body.
The CES 2014 is also showing us some big trends and changes in the our tech area. Most smartwatches you can get now are pretty chunky. Two companies decided to change that and introduced rather stylish devices. MetaWatch’ Meta, designed by Frank Nuovo, formerly of Nokia and Vertu, has as much style as functionality, as does the new Pebble Steel (more below). Fitness bands are getting “smarter” and show notifications as well, for example Sony’s Core and LG’s Lifeband touch, while Fitbit announced this feature will be coming with the next upgrade. Devices like the Kiwi Move are combining more features, and finally one very important spec has been addressed, longer battery lives as, for example, in Garmin’s Vívofit.
If you want to get your hands on some of these cool new devices, you can get the opportunity to do so at our next Wearable Technologies Conference 2014 Europe, hosted at the International Congress Center in Munich on January 27 and 28. The leading dialog platform for this rapidly evolving, billion dollar market will be featuring Sony, Samsung and Neptune and many more, very exciting speakers and exhibitors.
Here are some of Christian’s favorites from this year’s International CES:
Pebble Steel and Mercedes Benz
At Pebble’s keynote, CEO Eric Migicovsky not only unveiled the new, slimmer and more stylish Pebble Steel. Pebble now has its own app store, and announced a strategic partnership with Mercedes Benz. Mercedes is very interested in wearables and already developed some apps to incorporate wearable technologies. One of which is the DigitalDrive Style app for Pebble smartwatches. This app allows you to see fuel level, locate their car, and check if the doors are locked or not (though there is no remote locking option yet). DigitalDrive Style also features non-intrusive alerts when you’re behind the wheel. The Pebble Steel is already available for pre-order for 249$ and will ship starting January 28, 2014.
Sony Core Smartband
With its second smartwatch released last year, Sony isn’t new to the wearable tech market. At CES 2014 Sony introduced its first fitness tracker Core “the smallest Gadget it has ever made”. Sony implemented the tiny Core into a smartband, for now. But Sony also plans to put the chip into other products as well. It features all the metrics for fitness tracking (heart-rate, steps, etc.), albeit it will also track photos you’ve taken and other life events. Sony has developed an app for the Core, the Lifelog, allowing you to view your personal history. It logs and tracks exercise, e.g. your route and songs you’ve listened to while running, and even logs media you watched. Sony will start shipping the Core smartband in the first quarter of 2014 for 99€ (there’s no US price yet) a pack of three extra bands will be available as well.
Casio Bluetooth Sports Gear
Casio is known for their G-Shock watches. In October 2013 Casio released the G-SHOCK Bluetooth 4, capable of two-way operability with smartphones. At CES it unveiled the Bluetooth Sports Gear STB-100. It has the same look and feel as the regular G-SHOCK, but in addition to Bluetooth connectivity, the STB-100 also tracks your workout with all the familiar fitness parameters (pace, distance, cycle speed, etc.).
You can control your music playback with the Bluetooth 4 connection, and with an additional cadence sensor you can even track your pedal rotations. For now the Sports Gear is only compatible with a few fitness apps, but more are expected to arrive later this year. The big difference to other smartwatches is the battery: Casio’s G-SHOCK Sports Gear sports a two year battery life.
As mentioned before, many tech companies jumped on the wearable technologies wagon at CES 2014. So did Garmin with its announcement of Vívofit. Its most notable feature is the use of replaceable batteries that last for over one year, and an e-ink display that always stays on. Vívofit is water-resistant, and compatible with ANT+ hear rate monitors. Garmin’s fitness band greets you with a personalized daily goal, which it learns by logging your current activity level, tracks your progress, and reminds you to move when necessary. Vívofit will be available in different colors and in two sizes. Shipping will begin in Q1 2014, the retail price for Garmin Vívofit is $129.99 and $169.99 (heart rate monitor bundle).
Last year Neptune Pine was a Kickstarter project, which passed its funding goal with ease. But the Pine is set to be the first standalone Android smartwatch – meaning it doesn’t have to be tethered to a smartphone. It features a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a 5-megapixel camera and a VGA front-facing camera, speaker, microphone, headphone jack, 16 or 32 GB internal storage… It even has a fitness lab and a keyboard. With its 2.4” touchscreen it is quite big, especially for smaller wrists – but the body is detachable and you can actually attach the Neptune Pine to a helmet, for example. Neptune Pine is available for pre-order for USD335 shipping is expected to start in March 2014. Neptune will be showcasing the Pine at the Wearable Technologies Conference 2014 Europe later this month.
Qualcomm unveiled Toq in September 2013 and it is already available, but it is one pretty cool smartwatch, which is why we included it in this summary. Toq comes with Qualcomm’s Mirasol display. Mirasol uses ambient light to offer clear viewing, even in sunlight, is always on and the power consumption is very low. The smartwatch also features Qualcomm’s wireless charging technology WiPower – which is also approved for third-party devices. As mentioned, Toq is available already – for the International CES Qualcomm cut the price from $350 to $300.
In the video below you can get a better look at Qualcomm’s Toq.
Here are some more highlights from 2014 International CES:
Samsung seems to think that football will save the planet (and not the American version either)
Scoshe, a manufacturer of accessories for iPod, iPhone and iPad accessories, Headphones, Car Audio Installation Dash Kits, Speakers, Subwoofers and much more, entered the wearable market with its own heart rate monitor and music controller RythmSmart.
The RIBX watch FB1 is a sturdy smartwatch for adventurers — and pretty big next to Pebble.
This text has been written by Andréa Catel de Prates Soares and published by Zuriñe Dopacio González