Wearable Electronics

Atari Starts Selling Speakerhat

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Atari Starts Selling Speakerhat

Back in June 2017, venerable gaming brand Atari announced a first "Atari Connected Life" product, the Speakerhat. Now the self-descriptive hat with built-in speakers is real, with shipping to start soon.

The Speakerhat is essentially a baseball cap with a pair of speakers (not headphones) embedded in the bill. The speakers promise to be of high quality, and a microphone is included. Bluetooth handles connectivity with audio sources, and Atari says Speakerhat wearers can sync with each other to listen to the same audio stream.

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FDA Approves KardiaBand Apple Watch Strap

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FDA Approves KardiaBand Apple Watch Strap

The Apple Watch gets a first medical device accessory in the US-- the AliveCor KardiaBand, an EKG reader strap for the wearable device approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Already in use in Europe, the KardiaBand is a strap with an integrated metallic sensor able to push EKG readings to a companion app. It can detect abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AF), making it similar to the KardiaMobile iPhone accessory. However it takes readings in real-time instead of having to be held in both hands for 30 seconds to register a reading.

To start a reading, users simply need to start a reading on the Kardia Watch app, place their thumb on the sensor and wait for the 30-second analysis. In addition users can speak into the Watch microphone to note palpitations, shortness of breath or dietary habits linked to heart-rate fluctuations.

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Misfit Vapor Gets Release Date

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Misfit Vapor Gets Release Date

The Vapor, the first smartwatch from Fossil-owned fitness wearable specialist Misfit, gets a release date-- 31 October 2017, a date that was delayed from an original summer release window.

Launched at this year's CES, the Vapor a full-blown smartwatch complete with 1.39-inch AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 processor, 4GB  storage, wifi, Bluetooth and a touch-sensitive bezel. It originally was designed to run on a proprietary Misfit OS, but March saw a change to Android Wear 2.0, allowing support for more 3rd party services, unique watchfaces and micro apps.

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Bose Puts a Speaker on Your Shoulders

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Bose Puts a Speaker on Your Shoulders

Customers asking for a wearable audio device that does not cover the ears? Bose might have a solution with the SoundWear Companion, a speaker one wears on on their neck.

The SoundWear Companion pairs with smartphones via Bluetooth, meaning it streams music and takes calls just like any other similar device. It is controlled via companion iOS/Android app, and promises to provide music while not shutting out the noise of the outside world.

Producing what "deep, rich sound" is a pair of 11-inch waveguides, while the battery promises up to 12 hours of use on a single charge with a quick 15-minute charge giving up to 3 hours of use). Construction is sweat and weather resistant, and a combination of bend-and-stay steel wire and medical-grade silicon ensures the wearable stays form-fitted on the shoulders.

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IDC: Wearables Continue to Grow Through 2021

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IDC: Wearables Continue to Grow Through 2021

According to IDC wrist-worn devices-- as in watches and wristbands-- will continue to drive the wearable device market until at least 2021, while lesser-known categories such as clothing and earwear should experience growth in the years to come.

The analyst says 2017 wearable device shipments will total 121.7 million, a 16.6% increase over the 104.4m shipped in 2016. Such growth should continue throughout the forecast period, reaching 229.5m units in 2021 with a 5-year CAGR of 17.2%.

"We expect the most innovation and development in the wearables market to take place on the wrist," IDC continues. "It's the ideal location for users to collect, view, and interact with data and applications, and the point to execute tasks like responding to notifications or communicating with other people and devices. Layer on top of that varieties in style, design, segment, and feature set, and wristworn wearables are poised to remain well out in front of the market."

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Gartner: Wearables to Grow 17% in 2017

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Gartner: Wearables to Grow 17% in 2017

According to Gartner global wearable device sales are to reach 310.4 million in 2017-- a 16.7% increase over 2016, with revenues reaching $30.5 billion, of which $9.3bn coming from smartwatches.

In fact, the analyst says smartwatches are on pace to account for the highest unit sales of all wearable device form factors from 2019 to 2021 (aside from Bluetooth headsets), with 2017 sales reaching 41.5m. Smartwatch sales are estimated to total nearly 81m by 2021, making 16% of total wearable device sales.

Helping smartwatch revenues the relatively stable ASP of the Apple Watch. Higher volumes inevitably lead to "slight" reduction in manufacturing and component costs, but strong brands such as Apple and Fossil should keep pricing consistent with that of traditional watches. Thus, Gartner says smartwatch ASPs will drop from $223.25 in 2017 to $214.99 in 2021.

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Fitbit Smartwatch is Ionic

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Fitbit Smartwatch is Ionic

Fitbit launches its long awaited take on the smartwatch format-- the Ionic, a lightweight aluminium number with built-in GPS tracking, water resistance and a new operating system.

Technically the Ionic is an upgrade of the Blaze, the previous fitness-focused Fitbit watch. However it runs the proprietary Fitbit OS, a piece of software Fitbit says makes the core of its current and future smartwatch effots. It handles 3rd party apps, with the press reveal showing apps from the likes of Pandora, Strava, AccuWeather and Starbucks, among others.

The company promises a full selection of apps will be available at launch, while developers get an SDK on September. Users will be able to add more apps through a Fitbit App Gallery, and can also side load content through private links.

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DigiTimes: Apple Watch Shipments to Reach 15m in 2017

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DigiTimes: Apple Watch Shipments to Reach 15m in 2017

According to upstream supply chain sources speaking to DigiTimes overall Apple Watch shipments are to reach 4.4 million in Q4 2017, before growing to 15m for the full year 2017 and 20m by 2018.

Such results bode well for Apple and its plans for the 3rd generation Watch. Other vendors do not have such luck, though-- the anonymous sources say demand is weakening for wearables from the likes of Xiaomi and Fitbit. Also seeing weak demand are Samsung, LG, Huawei and Motorola, while Asus and Intel have essentially given up on the device category.

Why did smartwatches-- aside from the Watch-- fail to capture the imagination? DigiTimes points out "high prices, weak battery life, overlapping functionalities with smartphones, and not yet fully integrated ecosystem have prevented demand from reaching expected levels."

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Swim Tracking, Offline Spotify for Gear Fit2 Pro?

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Swim Tracking, Offline Spotify for Gear Fit2 Pro?

According to VentureBeat Samsung will reveal more than just the Galaxy Note8 at its 23 August event-- also waiting in the wings is the Gear Fit2 Pro, the 3rd fitness tracker from the Korean giant.

In a confusing take on naming conventions, the Gear Fit2 Pro is actually the sequel to the Gear Fit2. It features a similar tall, curved display and a bevy of upgrades, including what a more powerful processor and 5 ATM water resistance. This allows users to fully submerge the band in water, allowing the tracking of swimming workouts via Speedo On app (in comparison, the Gear Fit2 is IP-68 certified, and is not submersible).

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Strategy Analytics: Xiaomi Takes Wearables Lead

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Strategy Analytics: Xiaomi Takes Wearables Lead

According to Strategy Analytics the wearables market has a new leader in Q2 2017-- Xiaomi takes over 17% market share, beating the likes of Fitbit and Apple for the first time ever.

The reason behind Xiaomi's rise to the top is the popularity of the Mi Band fitness trackers in China, the result of highly competitive pricing and rich features. In total the company shipped 3.7 million wearables globally in Q2 2017, a 23% Y-o-Y increase over the 3m shipped in Q2 2016.

In the meantime Fitbit finds itself between a rock and a hard place, as its product offering fails to be either low-end fitness band or a premium smartwatch. Shipments for the former wearables leader total 3.4m in Q2 2017, with market share dropping from 29% in Q2 2016 to 16%.

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Cellular Capability for Next Apple Watch?

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Cellular Capability for Next Apple Watch?

According to Bloomberg Apple is working to ensure the Watch is a device more independent of the iPhone-- and as such "at least some new Apple Watch models" will feature an LTE chip.

Cellular connectivity means the Watch would not need to be connected wirelessly to an iPhone to stream music, download map directions, use a number of apps and send or receive messages. A "person familiar with the situation" adds the LTE chip comes from Intel, as opposed to regular iDevice modem supplier Qualcomm, with whom Apple is currently locked in bitter legal dispute.

In addition, Bloomberg says Apple is already in talks with carriers in both Europe and the US to support the LTE Watch-- but these may be a "limited subset" of carriers carrying the iPhone.

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