Wearable Electronics

Timex Tracks Fitness With IQ+ Move

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Timex Tracks Fitness With IQ+ Move

Watchmaker Timex announces a second device best described as a smart analog watch-- the IQ+ Move, a simple wristwatch able to track steps, sleep metrics, distance walked/run and calories consumed.

As a followup to the Metropolitan+, the IQ+ Move is more fitness tracker than smartwatch, since it does not show smartphone notifications. It has what Timex calls "Indiglo" (a fancy word for blue backlighting), is water resistant up to 50m and features swappable bands in either leather or silicone flavours.

Power comes via traditional watch battery, and a Bluetooth radio pushes fitness data to Android/iOS devices.

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MFi Hearing Aids Get Live Listen Streaming

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MFi Hearing Aids Get Live Listen Streaming

Customers using Made for iPhone (MFi) hearing aids get an iOS 10 enhancement-- Live Listen, an adaptation of the Bluetooth-based streaming using the iPhone mic to focus conversations in loud environments.

The OS update also extends support for direct streaming of phone calls, FaceTime conversations, movies and other audio to supported hearing aids, all without need for a middleman "streamer." The iOS 10 hearing aid features integrate device battery life and independent bass, treble and right/left volume controls, and support audiologist-designed presets for the handling of sound in environments ranging from restaurants to concerts.

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IDC: Realignment Leads to Smartwatch Decline

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IDC: Realignment Leads to Smartwatch Decline

According to IDC the global smartwatch market feels a "round of growing pains" in Q3 2016-- shipments are down by -51.6% Y-o-Y to 2.7 million units, a reflection of the current realignment of platforms and vendors.

"Apple revealed a new look and feel to watchOS that did not arrive until the launch of the second generation watch at the end of September," the analyst continues.  "Google’s decision to hold back Android Wear 2.0 has repercussions for its OEM partners as to whether to launch devices before or after the holidays. Samsung’s Gear S3, announced at IFA in September, has yet to be released. Collectively, this left vendors relying on older, aging devices to satisfy customers."

Another realisation involves the fact that smartphones-- at least currently -- are not for everyone. Vendors are sticking with fitness as the simplest use case for such devices, but moving forward the differentiation between smartwatch and smartphone experiences will be key. IDC adds this is already happening with rising cellular integration, and the commercial audience is piloting such devices.

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An OmniWear Arc Necklace for Wearable Gaming Feedback

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An OmniWear Arc Necklace for Wearable Gaming Feedback

Wearable device startup OmniWear suggests a wearable device to give gamers a touch-based edge over opponents-- the Arc, a necklace that vibrates when opponents are in the vicinity.

Of course, the addition of haptic feedback is nothing new in game accessories, what with vibration motors being a standard in joypads and controllers. However the majority of games use haptics to simply make impacts feel "real" or add intensity to specific sequences, other than giving actual information to the gamer.

OmniWear claims the Arc provides 360-degree location tracking through 8 vibration motors placed around it. This, if an enemy approaches from behind, the motor at the back should start buzzing, and the buzzing gets more intense the closer the enemy is. To do so the necklace pairs with an OmniWear mobile app via Bluetooth, and in turn the app keeps track of what is taking place in the game.

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Watch Nike+ Gets Launch Date

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Watch Nike+ Gets Launch Date

Apple quietly announces the launch date of the Nike+ edition of the Watch-- 28 October, fitting with the previously promised "late October" launch window.

The Nike+ is essentially identical to the regular Series 2 Watch, if with a lighter and cooler perforated Sport Band and different preloaded software, such as a pair of exclusive watch faces and a Nike+ Run Club app. Otherwise the feature set is limited to what is offered by the Series 2, including the faster processor, brighter display, standalone GPS and 50m water resistance.

Construction is in aluminium, and it comes in both 38 and 42mm sizes. The smartwatch is available in 4 colour combinations, with a mix of black and gray straps complete with highly visible green accents.

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Microsoft Band is No More

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Microsoft Band is No More

It appears Microsoft has given up on the Band-- the fitness wearable has been wholly removed from the Microsoft Store website, and the company reportedly has no plans to announce a Band 3 sequel.

First reporting on the end of the Band was ZDNet, with a story claiming Microsoft has recently disbanded the software team working on bringing Windows 10 to the wearable. The report's anonymous source adds "some" Band hardware team members have also been moved to other teams within Microsoft, even if the company is still to officially declare the death of the device.

Microsoft did reply to the ZDNet story, mind. An official statement reads "we have sold through our existing Band 2 inventory and have no plans to release another Band device this year. We remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers through Microsoft Stores and our customer support channels and will continue to invest in the Microsoft Health platform, which is open to all hardware and apps partners across Windows, iOS, and Android devices."

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Snapchat Takes on Google Glass With Spectacles

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Snapchat Takes on Google Glass With Spectacles

Snap--aka the recently rebranded Snapchat-- presents a first hardware product with Spectacles, a pair of sunglasses able to record video with the press of a button.

The brightly coloured Spectacles are something of a stripped-down take on the concept behind Google's Glass. They carry a small circular camera in the upper left and right sides of the frames, and shoot what the company calls "Snaps," snippets of video up to 10 seconds in length.

The Specs store up to three 10-second long Snaps, and video recording starts and stops by pressing a button near the left camera. An outwards-facing light lets people know the Specs are recording, and one can transfer videos to smartphones via Bluetooth or wifi. Videos eventually appear in the Memories section of the Snapchat app for sharing with the rest of the world.

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IDC: "Modest" Growth for Smartwatches Before 2020 Boom

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IDC:

According to IDC the smartwatch market will only see "modest" growth in 2016-- shipments are forecast to reach 20.1 million, a 3.9% increase brought about by late-in-year and iterative product releases.

"To date, smartwatches have remained in the realm of brand loyalists and tech cognoscenti, but we expect that to change over the next few years," the analyst says. "First, smartwatches will look and feel like traditional watches, appealing to those who put a premium and design and style. Second, once the smartwatches get cellular connectivity, they’ll disconnect from the smartphone, making them more useful. Third, smartwatch applications will build on this cellular connection, and connect with other devices within the home and at work. Finally, smartwatch prices will come down, making them more affordable to a broader market."

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Apple Watch Reaches Series 2

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Apple Watch Reaches Series 2

Apple claims the Apple Watch is the currently the second best selling watch (just after Rolex) before it announces the next generation of the smartwatch-- the Apple Watch Series 2.

The Series 2 is, essentially, an incremental upgrade over the original model. As many expected it is water resistant up to 50m, and is powered by an S2 dual-core processor and new GPU promising twice the graphical performance of the first model. The display is brighter (1000 nits) while GPS comes built-in.

Construction is in stainless steel, aluminium or, in an Apple first, ceramic with a "gorgeous pearl-white shine." Launching together with Series 2 are new Hermes bands. Nike also gets in the Watch action with Watch Nike Plus-- a version designed for athletes featuring a perforated rubber band and lighter aluminium construction for "the best running experience out there.

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IDC: Smartwatches Lose Out to Basic Wearables

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IDC: Smartwatches Lose Out to Basic Wearables

The global wearable device shipments sees two categories travel at different speeds in Q2 2016, IDC remarks-- while basic wearable shipments are up by 48.8% Y-o-Y, smart wearables are down by -27.2% Y-o-Y.

The difference between basic and smart wearables depends on whether the device in question can handle 3rd party apps or not. Taken as a whole, Q2 2016 wearable shipments total 22.2 million, a 26.1% Y-o-Y increase driven by the slow emergence of new use cases for such devices.

"Basic wearables, which include most fitness trackers, have benefited from a combination of factors-- a clear value proposition for end-users, an abundant selection of devices from multiple vendors, and affordable price points," sthe analyst says. "Consequently, basic wearables accounted for 82.8% of all wearable devices shipped during the quarter, and more vendors continue to enter this space. The danger, however, is that most devices end up being copycats of others, making it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves in a crowded market."

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Alcatel Intros MoveTime Wifi at IFA 2016

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Alcatel Intros MoveTime Wifi at IFA 2016

IFA 2016 sees Alcatel launch a follow up to the imaginatively-named Watch smartwatch-- the MoveTime Wifi, a smartwatch featuring similar features as the original model, if within a more mature looking casing.

The MoveTime Wifi looks like any regular wristwatch, with a casing available in silver, dark gray or gold. It features a round 1.39-inch 400 x 400 resolution AMOLED display, and carries an 802.11 b/g/n wifi radio, speaker and microphone allowing wearers to make calls (via phone) through their wrist, Dick Tracy-style.

The operating system of choice remains the Alcatel-developed one found in the Watch, although updates make it more similar to Android Wear, at least when it comes to general styling. Also retained is the optical heart rate monitor for fitness tracking duties, and the device can monitor steps, calories, distance, time, water and caffeine inteke as well as heart rate via companion app.

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