Wearable Electronics

Two Apple Watch Upgrades for 2016?

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Two Apple Watch Upgrades for 2016?

According to well connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo 2016 will see the debut of two Apple Watch models-- an all-new Watch 2 and an upgraded first-generation Watch featuring some updated components.

The Apple Watch 2 will reportedly feature "the same general design" as the first model, if with the addition of a GPS radio, barometer, thinner display and a faster processor built using a 16nm process by TSMC. Also included is a higher capacity battery leading to the wearable's not being slimmer than the first generation Watch.

Meanwhile the second 2016 Apple wearable is a slight upgrade on the first Watch featuring some improved components (such as a TSMC processor) and better waterproofing.

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Philips Presents Health Wearables

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Philips Presents Health Wearables

Philips announces what it says are the first devices in a personal health ecosystem-- a health watch, connected scale, blood pressure monitor and thermometer, all integrated with a companion HealthSuite app.

According to the company the devices help customers at risk of chronic disease to measure and monitor their health, as well as "stay motivated in creating sustainable behaviour change." As such, all devices push data to the iOS/Android HealthSuite app and the Philips cloud to generate a personalised health program and data analysis.

"We combine deep clinical know-how and rich data, consumer insights and advanced technology to craft solutions which help individuals along the whole of their health journey," Philips adds. "Our personal health programs have been developed in conjunction with leading doctors, psychologists and other experts. They will allow individuals to accurately measure vital signs to understand how lifestyle choices affect their body, set goals and monitor their progress, and stay motivated.”

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Portable Watch Charger Hits Kickstarter

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Portable Watch Charger Hits Kickstarter

ThanoTech suggests the charger supplied with the Watch is not an as ideal as Apple believes it is-- necessitating the need for the Diskus, the first portable MFi-approved Watch charger.

The first notable feature of the Diskus is it replaces Lightning connectivity with a regular micro USB port. This allowed the makers to replace the 6-foot cable included with the Watch with a much shorter 1 foot alternative, and means users can borrow a micro USB cable from any other device they might have around.

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IDC: Apple Watch Remains Most Popular Smartwatch

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IDC: Apple Watch Remains Most Popular Smartwatch

The Apple Watch is still the most popular smartwatch of Q2 2016, IDC reports, despite shipments reaching 1.6 million, a -55% Y-o-Y decline from Q1 2015 shipments of 3.6m.

Overall smartwatch shipments for the quarter total 3.5m units, a -32% Y-o-Y decline caused by the aforementioned drop in Watch shipments. As a result, Apple is the only vendor in the top 5 to see drops in shipments during the quarter, although one has to keep in mind Q1 2015 was the initial launch quarter of the Watch, which remains essentially the same product on sale on Q1 2016 if with price reductions.

"Consumers have held off on smartwatch purchases since early 2016 in anticipation of a hardware refresh, and improvements in WatchOS are not expected until later this year, effectively stalling existing Apple Watch sales," the analyst says. "Apple still maintains a significant lead in the market and unfortunately a decline for Apple leads to a decline in the entire market. Every vendor faces similar challenges related to fashion and functionality, and though we expect improvements next year, growth in the remainder of 2016 will likely be muted."

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Google Working on Own Brand Smartwatches?

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Google Working on Own Brand Smartwatches?

If the grapevine is correct, Google's own brand ambitions are not limited to smartphones-- according to Android Police Google branding is to extend to a pair of smartwatches.

Reportedly codenamed "Angelfish" and "Swordfish," the wearable devices are, obviously, powered by Android Wear and said to leverage on the Google Assistant artificial intelligence "bot" to provide users with contextual alerts. Both feature circular displays, with the Angelfish being the larger option (43.5mm).

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The Zungle Audio-Playing Sunglasses

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The Zungle Audio-Playing Sunglasses

"Zungle" might be a clumsily named company, but it does offer an interesting device-- the Panther, a pair of sunglasses with built-in wireless bone-conduction headphones.

As a pair of wireless headphones, the Zungle has all features expected from users, such as Bluetooth audio playback, hands-free calling via built-in mic and a jog dial for audio controls. Audio comes through bone-conduction, meaning the wearers' ears are free to listen to their surroundings.

Battery life clocks at around 4 hours of music playback, with full charging taking an hour via hidden micro USB port. The sunglasses also promise to be lightweight around 45g, while the lenses are the same sie as Oakley Frogskins for easy shade replacement.

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IDC: Watches, Wristbands Drive Wearables

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IDC: Watches, Wristbands Drive Wearables

According to IDC global wearable device shipments will reach 101.9 million units in 2016-- a 29% increase over 2015 in good part driven by smartwatches and wrist bands.

As for the future, wearables are forecast to experience a CAGR of 20.3% over the next 4 years, with shipments reaching 213.6m units by end 2020.

"Unlike the smartphone, which consolidated multiple technologies into one device, the wearables market is a collection of disparate devices," the analyst remarks. "Watches and bands are and always will be popular, but the market will clearly benefit from the emergence of additional form factors, like clothing and eyewear, that will deliver new capabilities and experiences."

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Pebble Kickstarts Core, Smartwatch Sequels

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Pebble Kickstarts Core, Smartwatch Sequels

Pebble returns to Kickstarter to present a trio of wearable devices-- the Pebble 2 and Time 2 smartwatches and the Core, a tiny device best described as an iPod Shuffle for Spotify.

As the first non-smartwatch Pebble wearable, the Core is a rather interesting beast. Designed for customers wanting to listen to music while running, it features a GPS for distance tracking, 3G connectivity for Spotify music streaming and a 3.5mm jack for earbuds. Also included are wifi and Bluetooth connectivity for pairing with health apps such Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyRun, Google Fit and Under Armour.

The 3G modem and a built-in microphone allow connection to Alexa, the Amazon Siri-style voice-controlled assistant.

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IDC: Newcomers Challenge Fitbit in Wearables

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IDC: Newcomers Challenge Fitbit in Wearables

The global wearables market shows rude health in Q1 2016, IDC remarks-- shipments are up by 67.2% to reach 19.7 million units thanks to various device releases and holiday season price reductions.

Companies are eager to entice customers to buying wearables, as technology shows hosted multiple fitness tracker and smartwatch launches, as well as introductions in emerging categories such as clothing and footwear. The holiday season saw price reduction even from the likes of the Apple Watch (with the Sport edition), while the industry showed how competitive it can get with several startups going through either headcount reductions or outright shutdown.

"The good news is that the wearables market continues to mature and expand," the analyst says. "The wearables that we see today are several steps ahead of what we saw when this market began, increasingly taking their cues from form, function, and fashion. That keeps them relevant. The downside is that it is becoming a crowded market, and not everyone is guaranteed success."

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Samsung Patents Screen-Projecting Smartwatch

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Samsung Patents Screen-Projecting Smartwatch

A recently published Samsung patent presents an almost sci-fi vision for the smartwatch of the future-- one able to project a virtual user interface on the hand or forearm of the wearer.

The system described by the patent scans the physical shape of the objects around the smartwatch (such as the wrist or back of the hand) before using a set of internal projectors to beam an appropriate virtual UI. The patent includes examples of such virtual UIs, such as a dialpad, a large keyboard and even map navigation, all with interactive buttons powered by photo sensors.

Projection is also not limited to the hands and arms, as the patent has it project a full-size desktop on a wall around the user. The technology can also go beyond wearables-- the patent has it used in head-mounted displays, creating a mix of virtual reality and the actual environment.

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Garmin Intros Analogue-Style Vivomove

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Garmin Intros Analogue-Style Vivomove

Garmin hides connected smarts in a traditional analogue-style watch with the Vivomove, a wearable offering similar to the Withings Activite designed to track wearers' activity and sleep levels 24/7.

The Vivomove is fairly basic as far as fitness trackers go, since it only monitors calories burnt, steps taken and sleep patterns. However the watch face features the Move Bar, a visual reminder urging one to remain active throughout the day, while Garmin claims the watch offers an impressive 1-year battery life.

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