For years, wearable tech has looked poised to explode into the mass market in a big way, and this year’s Consumer Electronics Show looks to have cemented 2014 as the “year of wearable tech.”
All of the big names in wearable tech were on site at CES 2014, debuting products and making announcements that illustrate that wearable tech is finally ready to develop beyond a niche market, and become a major part of the average consumer’s everyday life.
CES 2014 featured activity from both brand-name electronics companies, as well as market newcomers like Pebble. The company, which raised $10 million on Kickstarter to launch its line of smartwatches, used CES as the platform to announce its second-generation offering, the Pebble Steel. Critics have hailed the new Pebble Steel as a more grown-up take on the smartwatch. For one thing, as it’s name suggests, the watch is made of stainless steel instead of plastic, making it more of a stylish piece jewelry that just happens to also be a smartwatch. Like it’s predecessor, the new Pebble will be able to run a variety of apps, and will sync with iPhones and Android devices.
According to technology entrepreneur Jason Hope, Pebble’s announcement at CES 2014 shows that the startup is doing everything it can to be taken seriously as a big name in wearable tech.
“When Pebble first started out, they were this anonymous startup that went through the whole Kickstarter thing, and then they had some growing pains with the first product they released,” said Mr. Hope. “I thought of them as a company that offered a vision of what smartwatches might become, but I didn’t know if they were actually going to be a part of that vision going forward. Now that I’ve seen this new model, I’m much more inclined to believe in the future of the company.”
Fitness devices have been an important part of wearable tech over the last couple of years, and that trend continued at CES 2014, with the announcement of the new Basis Band. This new device provides a health and fitness spin on the smartwatch by combining a heart rate monitor, a sleep tracker and a pedometer into a single device worn on the wrist.
The Basis Band also measures the wearer’s skin temperature and perspiration levels, creating a complete health and fitness offering that does more than a lot of the wearable fitness devices already on the market, and could potentially eliminate the need to download smartphone fitness apps.
Those who needed a further indication of the importance of wearable tech at CES 2014 got it when Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich used his keynote presentation to focus entirely on new wearable devices that use the company’s technology.
Mimo Baby from Rest Devices is a new wearable baby monitor that is built around Intel Edison, a PC the size of an SD card. The sensors on the Mimo Baby track the infant’s movement, temperature, and breathing rate, and relay the information to an app on a parent’s smartphone. This device promises to offer peace of mind to parents, who will get instant knowledge of any problems their baby may be experiencing.
Intel also made its own contribution to wearable fitness with its new smart earbuds. The earbuds are aimed at fitness enthusiasts who listen to music while exercising. As the wearer’s heart rate changes, the earbuds track the heart rate and adjust the playlist accordingly. The earbuds also sync with a fitness app that allows users to track distance covered and calories burned.
Intel also announced the new “Make it Wearable” Challenge, pledging to offer more than $1.3 million in awards to challenge participants who come up with new ideas that push the concepts of what’s possible with wearable technology.
“Going into CES 2014, everyone wanted to know whether all the hype around wearable tech was justified,” said Mr. Hope. “Now that we’ve seen the new ideas that are out there, and gotten such a big push from a major name like Intel, it’s clear that the hype was entirely justified. Now we know that 2014 will be the year when wearable tech goes mainstream.”
Wearable Tech at CES 2014! Check out these clips!
Amy Taylor is a technology and business writer. Amy began her career as a small business owner in Phoenix, Arizona. She has taken that knowledge and experience and brought that to her unique writing capabilities. She really enjoys new business related issues that are tied directly to technology.