Wearable Technologies News Roundup – April

Will.I.Am Set to Enter the Smartwatch Game

During the past two years, the smartwatch market has seen a lot of innovation. After startups such as Pebble and MetaWatch showed their products (see our smartwatch overview here) large corporations such as Samsung and Sony have followed suit, and Motorola and LG will soon join with their offers. So it came as quite a surprise when the rap musician Will.I.Am announced his own smartwatch enterprise in the UK talk show with Alan Carr. A member of the famous band Black Eyed Peas and announced as Intel’s director of creative innovation back in 2011, he presented a smartwatch that he claims could fully replace smartphones. While the technical details aren’t available yet, Will.I.Am, who has already developed iPhone accessories with his i.am+ brand, said the smartwatch would be available in July.

Nike to Concentrate on Software, Not Hardware

Nike has reportedly dismissed the majority of its wearable hardware team. According to a report from CNet, 70-80% of the employees who had been working on Nike’s FuelBand and other sports trackers were laid off, whereas the larger division working on Nike’s software was not affected. For Nike, which has been pioneering wearable tech since 2006 with the Nike+iPod shoe sensor package, the decision means a focus on software as its primary ambition in digital sports. With Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook sits on the company’s board, Nike has a potential partner for future digital products and for its Ecosystem Nike+, for which it will be releasing a public API for other companies to integrate. Nike still fosters wearable technologies with its Fuel Lab based in San Francisco. The partnership program will help startups “design hardware products that incorporate the company’s proprietary point-based workout metric, NikeFuel”.

New Fitness Tracker Wants to Be Your Gym Companion

A sensor that aims to measure each of your fitness exercises is currently seeking support on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. The Gymwatch is a patented fitness tracker designed to measure strength, cardio exercise, functional training and weight lifting. Smartphone apps for iPhone or Android provide visual or auditory feedback on reps and speed, motion correction and intensity control. The data is measured with a Bluetooth sensor and can then be further analyzed with a web application that also allows athletes to manage their training and plan their workouts ahead. The Gymwatch has been in the making over the past 3 years and is currently available for pre-order during its crowdfunding campaign. One unit of the sensor is available for $149 and the delivery is planned for this July.

Wearables Becoming More Useful for Payment and Boarding

For its second generation of wearables, Samsung teamed up with partners such as Paypal and Iberia to make life more convenient. While Paypal’s app, currently available for the Galaxy Gear, lets users check in to pay in thousands of stores, a current pilot of Paypal’s campus cafe uses Beacon to make the process run even smoother. The system allows merchants to check the ID of their customers and send them their bills in the form of push notifications. Customers can then pay by simply tapping their Galaxy wearables. For frequent flyers, Iberia’s new app might come in handy by allowing them to display their boarding pass directly on their Gear 2 screen. Similar to boarding passes on smartphones, with Iberia, the smartwatch is the new and sleek way to access your flight without needing to carry around any extra paperwork.

Image: Gymwatch