Wearable Electronics

Deutsche Telekom Joins will.i.am in Wearables

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Deutsche Telekom Joins will.i.am in Wearables

Deutsche Telekom sets to differentiate itself from telecom rivals through a partnership with musician turned tech entrepreneur will.i.am involving a wearable device platform and a smartwatch dubbed "dial."

The AneedA platform promises to be designed specifically for the wrists, and as such makes extensive use of voice control. The first device running on the platform is the aforementioned dial, a smartwtach described as a "smartphone on your wrist" combining "innovative features with lifestyle, entertainment and communication."

The dial does not need a smartphone to operate, making use of a Nano SIM card to allow for Dick Tracy-stye wrist-based calling. Control comes mostly through voice, with no need for manual input, while contextual search functionality provides information and music the wearer might need.

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IDC: A "Big Step Forward" for Wearables in Q4 2015

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IDC: A

Global wearable device shipments total 27.4 million units in Q4 2015-- a 126.9% Y-o-Y increase-- while overall 2015 shipments reach 78.1m with 171%  growth, thanks to increasingly popular fitness trackers and the Apple Watch.

"Triple-digit growth highlights growing interest in the wearables market from both end-users and vendors," the analyst says. "It shows that wearables are not just for the technophiles and early adopters; wearables can exist and are welcome in the mass market. And since wearables have yet to fully penetrate the mass market, there is still plenty of room for growth in multiple vectors-- new vendors, form factors, applications, and use cases."

Of course, IDC points out vendors should not rest on the laurels of such growth-- customers expect improvements on current devices, and "me too" or "copycat" devices will only fail to spur replacements. Thus future wearables should add features such as popular apps, navigation and prescriptive data together with historical data of the steps taken and calories burned variety.

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Epson Announces Moverio BT-300 Smart Glasses

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Epson Announces Moverio BT-300 Smart Glasses

Epson reveals the third generation of Moverio Smart Glasses at MWC 2016 with the BT-300, an update featuring improvements on both display and internal specification fronts.

Seen in pre-production form, the BT-300 features a proprietary micro-display projection system Epson calls Si-OLED (Silicon Organic Light-Emitting Diode). According to the company the new display produces deeper, truer blacks, allowing more realistic projection of digital images on top of the real world seen through the glasses.

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Which Shipments are Bigger: Smartwatches or Swiss Watches?

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Which Shipments are Bigger: Smartwatches or Swiss Watches?

Strategy Analytics reports global smartwatch shipments are growing at an impressive enough rate to manage to beat those of Swiss watches in Q4 2015-- a first according to the analyst.

Smartwatch shipments for the quarter total 8.1 million units, while Swiss watch shipments reach 7.9m.

“We estimate global smartwatch shipments reached 8.1m units in Q4 2015, rising a healthy 316% from 1.9 million in Q4 201," Strategy Analytics says. "Apple Watch captured an impressive 63% share of the global smartwatch market in Q4 2015, followed by Samsung with 16%. Apple and Samsung together account for a commanding 8 in 10 of all smartwatches shipped worldwide.”

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Garmin Vivoactive Gets Heart Rate Tracking

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Garmin Vivoactive Gets Heart Rate Tracking

Garmin announces the Vivoactive HR at MWC 2016-- a sequel to the Vivoactive smartwatch/fitness tracker combo featuring the addition of Elevate heart rate tracking technology and a barometric altimeter.

The Vivoactive HR is fairly similar to its predecessor, and offers features such as a low-resolution LCD touchscreen, built-in GPS, smartphone notification support and 8-day battery life. It tracks wearer activity 24/7 and calculates the amount of calories burnt during activities such as walking, running, biking, swimming, golfing, paddle boarding, rowing, skiing and snowboarding.

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Gartner: Apple Watch Helps Popularise Wearables

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Gartner: Apple Watch Helps Popularise Wearables

Gartner predicts 2016 wearable device shipments will reach 274.6 million-- an 18.4% Y-o-Y increase, with sales revenues reaching $28.7 billion. Smartwatches should generate $11.5bn of the figure.

"From 2015 through 2017, smartwatch adoption will have 48% growth largely due to Apple popularising wearables as a lifestyle trend. Smartwatches have the greatest revenue potential among all wearables through 2019, reaching $17.5bn," the analyst says. "Though the sales of smartwatches are the one of the strongest types of wearables, their adoption will remain much below sales of smartphones. For example, in 2016 more than 374m smartphones will sell in mature market countries and in large urban areas of emerging market countries, for example, in Hong Kong and Singapore."

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Fitbit Goes Fashionable With Alta Tracker

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Fitbit Goes Fashionable With Alta Tracker

Fitbit follows on the Blaze smartwatch with a perhaps more fashionable wearable offering-- the Alta, a minimalist fitness tracker complete with a leather wristband.

As far as fitness trackers go, the Alta is as stripped down as it gets. It features a tap-sensitive monochrome OLED display and only records daily activities such as steps and sleep. As such it lacks a GPS or heart rate sensor, but it can tell between different exercises (be it running, cycling or sports workouts) through a "smart track" feature before automatically logging the results on the companion smartphone app.

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HP Presents Crystal-Clad Women's Smartwatch

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HP Presents Crystal-Clad Women's Smartwatch

HP presents another smartwatch collaboration with a fashion designer-- now it's the turn of one Isaac Mizrahi, whose digital wristwatch features Swarovski crystals, leather bands and smartphone notifications.

Part of the "Engineered by HP" series, the Isaac Mizrahi Smartwatch lacks the colour touchscreen seen in other devices of the type. Instead it has a small OLED panel underneath a traditional analog face to display basic smartphone notifications of the text, call and calendar alert variety. The result, HP claims, allows women to use a smartwatch "without sacrificing style."

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Smartwatch Control, Via Eye-Tracking

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Smartwatch Control, Via Eye-Tracking

University of Lancaster researchers present a means for hands-free smartwatch control-- eye-tracking software allowing for "smooth" scrolling similar to eye movements.

Dubbed Orbits, the eye-based smartwatch control system involves circular eye movements. Users need to focus their gaze on a dot orbiting around a screen (thus the name) to triggers a function, similar to how one usually presses a physical button or taps a touchscreen. Why a moving, as opposed to static, dot? According to the researchers looking at a moving target actually reduces input errors.

The team managed to use the Orbits system on a modified smartwatch to navigate through a missed call menu, notifications and a music app. The moving targets can vary in size, speed and direction for a variety of control options, so for instance more pressing notifications can be displayed as larger spinning icons.

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Fitbit Takes on Smartwatch With Blaze

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Fitbit Takes on Smartwatch With Blaze

Fitbit presents a take on both smartwatch and fitness tracker with the Blaze-- a hexagonal device featuring basic smartwatch-style functionality coupled with in-depth health tracking.

Described by the company as a "smart fitness watch," the Blaze continuously tracks heart rate and uses Connected GPS to let users know how far they walk or run and at what pace. A multi-sport mode provides performance stats on all kinds of activities (such as biking, weights or yoga), while a SmartTrack feature automatically recognises exercises being done and pushes appropriate data to the companion Fitbit app.

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A Fitness Wearable for the Emotions

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A Fitness Wearable for the Emotions

Customers need a wearable means for the tracking of their emotional, as well as physical, states Sentio Solutions claims as it launches the Feel Wristband at CES 2016.

The Feel looks like any Fitbit-style wearable device, and as such it has fairly similar functionality-- it tracks blood volume pulse, skin temperature and galvanic response data. However the data is put through an algorithm to work out wearer emotions, before transfer to companion mobile device app via Bluetooth.

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