From fitness gadgets and wearable payment devices to advances in smart clothing and the latest in trackable event wristbands, the last year has seen a further explosion in investments and progress in wearable technologies. While a certain percentage are likely to be relegated to the gimmick bin within a few months, there are some that industry insiders are raving about and are likely to stick around. Here’s a few of our favourites:
Tech reviewers have been pretty much universally wowed by the latest offering from Doppler Labs. These noise-cancelling, smart earphones have garnered serious praise for their exceptional ability to filter external sound, their ability to interact with voice assistants such as Siri and Google Now, as well as their sleek and subtle design. Doppler call them ‘in ear computers’, which makes their tiny scale and list of capabilities even more impressive.
It’s never easy being the pioneer, and this is especially true of VR trailblazers Oculus. Unfortunately for the Facebook subsidiary, its rivals keep beating them at their own game. The HTC Vive is a prime example, with many reviewers and developers describing the headset’s VR experience as ‘incomparable’ to its nearest rivals. The headset’s features include a startlingly accurate 110-degree field of vision, two base sets compared to its rivals’ one which lead to superior movement tracking and experiential games that showcase VR’s capabilities like nothing else on the market.
The market has become awash with a head spinning selection of fitness watches in the last few years. They vary enormously in quality and value for money though, and this offering from industry pioneers Fitbit consistently comes out on top. Its design is 25 percent more slender than its closest relative, the Fitbit Charge 2, and has been applauded by tech critics for its seven day battery life. Its only downside is that it’s not swimproof, a feature that’s sure to be introduced before too long by the ever consumer-canny Fitbit engineers.
Smart clothing isn’t only about gaming and fitness, as proved by this ambitious device from US-based parenting tech experts Owlet. The Smart Sock is a wearable monitor for young babies that uses the same technology as hospitals to track infants’ heart rate, enabling parents to see if their sleep has been interrupted. It aims to make a serious impact on cot death numbers, and has also succeeded (in its Beta phase) in detecting one child’s undiagnosed congenital heart defect.
While certainly not the best known brand on the list, Chinese tech manufacturer Huawei has received generally positive feedback on its Android Wear Smartwatch. Reviewers are keen on the timepiece’s sleek design, high res display (the highest of any Android Wear watch, in fact) and always-on display which minimises the need for constant tapping. The only criticisms are around the watch’s functionality, which has been called ‘clunky’ and ‘confusing’ – a problem that seems to haunt devices running on Google’s wrist-based operating system.