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Business Insider: The 8 Hottest Companies In Wearable Tech Right Now

Wearable computing is one of the most excited trends in gadget tech today, and for good reason.

Collecting data about our habits, from what we eat to where we go to lunch, will let us learn about our daily patterns and change behaviors to improve our lives.

There’s also the fun side of wearables: the Oculus Rift lets gamers experience virtual worlds as if they were actually there, while Google’s Glass has science-fiction and comic nerds everywhere fantasizing about the possibilities of having an Iron Man-like heads-up display at all times.

We’ve rounded up the companies that have people most excited about wearable tech right now.

8. Jawbone’s stylish UP wristband lets you track your day-to-day activities to optimize your habits to improve mood and health.

7. Fitbit’s wristbands, sensors, scales, and apps let users keep track of their fitness, diet, and sleeping patterns to help them live healthier lifestyles.

6. Nike’s FuelBand has been rather successful thanks to its sleek design and the company’s close collaboration with Apple to integrate its software with iOS. Apple CEO Tim Cook wears one and praises the company’s focus on doing one thing very well.

5. Pebble’s smartwatch first drew the public’s attention when their Kickstarter campaign set records for the site and brought in over $10 million for Pebble. A bit over a year later, Pebble has sold over 85,000 watches.

5. Pebble's smartwatch first drew the public's attention when their Kickstarter campaign set records for the site and brought in over $10 million for Pebble. A bit over a year later, Pebble has sold over 85,000 watches.

4. Samsung preempted an iWatch from Apple with the announcement of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch earlier this month. It offers functionality somewhere between an iPod Nano and an Android phone.

3. The Oculus Rift is the closest anyone has come to making virtual reality gaming at home a possibility. The addition of gaming legend John Carmack to the team has gamers everywhere pumped up about the possibilities of experiencing their favorite worlds like they never have before.

2. Analysts have been speculating about the release of an iWatch for years. The M7 processor found in the iPhone 5S — which lets the device collect movement and location data with very low power usage — has rekindled speculation about how Apple could differentiate itself from competitors like Nike or Samsung.

1. Google Glass, while very much a pre-release piece of hardware, has gotten the entire tech industry excited about the prospects of wearable hardware going mainstream.

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CBSNEWS: Wearable tech highlighted at CES 2014

Gizmos and gadgets are making their way onto our bodies. The rise of wearable technology is taking International CES by storm. CNET’s Sumi Das takes us inside the Las Vegas tech show and highlights some of the hottest new wearable devices.

A baby monitor that’s a connected onto a onesie is drawing attention at CES. The Mimo monitor connects via Wi-Fi to report the data on how a baby is sleeping. The device tracks breathing, temperature and position and lets parents analyze the data through their smartphones.

A baby monitor that’s a connected onto a onesie is drawing attention at CES. The Mimo monitor connects via Wi-Fi to report the data on how a baby is sleeping. The device tracks breathing, temperature and position and lets parents analyze the data through their smartphones.

Casio joins Samsung and Pebble in the smartwatch market with the introduction of Sports Gear. The watch can act as a fitness tracker, control music and tell the time, of course. It will also ping your phone if you misplace it.

Razer’s Nabu is a smartband, similar to Nike’s Fuelband and Jawbone’s Up. The health tracker reports calories burned, steps taken and hours slept, among other things.  It also sends call notifications and can connect to other users, adding contacts to Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

Intel unveiled a headset nicknamed “Jarvis” that is supposed to be like a personal assistant. The company says the device works with a smartphone app without even touching it.

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NBC News: Wearable Tech Means Big Boom in Mobile Data, Cisco Says

Wearable tech.

“Mobile” once referred simply to phones, then tablets too — and now it includes all kinds of wearable devices like smart watches, health trackers and Google Glass. Thanks to all of those new gadgets transmitting info, the amount of mobile data we use is expected to skyrocket by 2018.

That’s according to an annual report from Internet networking giant Cisco, which predicts that mobile data traffic will top 190 exabytes worldwide by 2018.

That would be an 11-fold increase from 2013’s traffic, and it’s, well, a ton of data. One exabyte is equivalent to a billion gigabytes.

To put that in perspective: 190 exabytes of data is the same as 42 trillion images, or four trillion video clips. It’s also 190 times more than all Internet Protocol traffic — both “fixed” wireless connections and mobile combined — generated in 2000, Cisco said.

As that mobile data use expands radiply, so will the number of devices sucking up all that information.

Cisco expects the number of mobile devices and connections to jump from seven billion in 2013 to 10 billion by 2018 — 1.4 times more than the 7.6 billion people the United Nations predicts will be living then.

It’s jaw-dropping growth, and one of the major factors is the wearable devices trend: the rising popularity of wearable technology, including smart watches like Pebble, health and fitness trackers, Google Glass and more.

Cisco lumps those devices in a category called “machine-to-machine” connections, which includes other systems like GPS. That category made up about one percent of mobile data traffic in 2013, and Cisco expects that figure to clock in at six percent by 2018.

Specifically, Cisco predicts the number of wearable devices in use will jump from less than 22 million in 2013 to almost 177 million by 2018.

In addition to the wearable trend and more mobile users/connections, Cisco also cited faster speeds and more video as major contributors to the mobile data boom.

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Motherboard: Finally, Wearable Tech You’ll Actually Want to Wear

Chief among the buzzwords at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was “wearable technology.” But like a lot of things that spokespeople and overeager venture capitalists are trying to hawk at the annual gathering of the tech industry in Las Vegas, it’s still not clear if wearable tech actually is “the next big thing” that so many CES-ers clearly want it to be. As Google showed yesterday with its new crop of Glass models, even the world’s most valuable tech companies are still finding this new realm of consumer electronics a tough nut to crack.

It seemed fitting (pun very much intended) then, that just a day after Google opened up about its latest labor of love to make Google Glass something appealing for people outside of the cyborg class, reviews began to pour in for Pebble’s new Steel smartwatch. And, well, people actually seemed to like it. The Verge’s Nilay Patel called it “the best smartwatch money can buy.”

More important than the praise itself, however, was where it was directed: at the look and feel of the thing. For the first time, there was a general consensus among critics that this was something they’d actually be comfortable wearing. Proud even.

“I would definitely wear the Pebble every day — a huge achievement I can’t say about any other wearable product I’ve tried in the past year or so,” Patel added. Engadget said, “the Steel blends functionality with an elegant and durable design, and it does a fantastic job at it.” On the more tempered side of things, Ars Technica and Wired both seemed to agree that while we’re not going to see Rick Ross flaunting the Steel in a music video anytime soon, its industrial design gets the job done.

“Of all the smartwatches and sports bands I’ve tried, for a non-watch wearer, this version of Pebble Steel bothered me the least,” Christina Bonnington wrote in Wired. “I could wear it all day without discomfort or irritation.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, sure. But it’s still high praise for a product category once deemed so loathsome that even technology journalists, nerds that they are, felt embarrassed to associate themselves with.

Does this mean that the consumer tech industry is finally learning from its many botched attempts? Hopefully. But it also means that consumers need to think about what they actually want from wearable devices in the first place.

During CES this year, I spoke to Justin Butler of Misfit Wearables, a startup that’s gained a lot of traction over the last two years for making a striking, ornamental variation of the activity tracker. He told me in an email during the show that when it comes to designing and developing wearable products, his company often faces a problem in how people have learned to think about what even counts as appropriate consumer tech in the first place.

“It is important to find the balance between providing consumers the right amount data, while also limiting the ‘Iron-Man’ look, and providing long battery life,” Butler wrote. “Many consumers have been trained to expect screens that provide lots of information on devices, but reactions are often highly positive when just the right amount of information is provided without overload.”

Developers are still searching for that perfect Goldilocks balance. And even if someone does find a particular model or gadget that truly takes off, it won’t be a singular, monolithic entity like the iPhone or Macbook. But if products like the Pebble Steel are any indication, tech companies have at the very least begun to wise up to the aesthetic biases of all us normal people.

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University Herald: Apple iWatch Rumors: Wearable Device and Future iPhones Could Run on Solar Power

Apple is actively trying to develop the latest and greatest way to charge their devices, like solar power, but it is unclear when that new technology will come out.

According to the New York Times, Apple is making its highly anticipated iWatch, but is exploring solar-powered batteries for the iPhone and iPod. While the smart watch may be in production, Apple has not given any clues for 

when to expect it to hit the market, so consumers may not even see it in 2014.

For a long time, the Cupertino, Calif. tech giant has been working to improver battery life. Mobile devices are capable of more than many consumers could ever imagine, so battery life has become even more important.

“Give me a better battery because it doesn’t last long enough,” Mujeeb Ijaz, chief technology officer at A123 Systems, told the NYT of what consumers deem important in their choice of mobile phones. A123 Systems invests in startups that explore new battery technologies and also makes batteries for electric cars.

“That need wasn’t there five years ago,” he said. “Now it’s a matter of the market and the developers coming together and saying, what is the need and how many R&D dollars do we put in?”

9to5Mac reported in Sept. that Apple was seeking engineers with solar power experience to design batteries for mobile devices. The job description said the position would be to “assist in the development and refinement of thin films technologies applicable to electronic systems.”

Apple’s biggest competitor, Samsung, may have phablets and smart watches on the market, but PC Magazinereported that will not rush Apple to produce the same. Samsung is also not the first company to release a smart watch, a wearable technology far from perfected.

Apple seems ready to wait for their battery to be developed before making iPhones with larger screens or Bluetooth smart watches that can send emails and make phone calls.

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Apple Insider: With Nest in & Motorola out, Google now looking to acquire wearable tech companies

Google’s evolving hardware portfolio could change once again with the acquisition of a wearable technology company, as the search giant is said to be contemplating potential purchases, according to a new report.

Glass

Google’s interest in potentially acquiring wearable technology companies was revealed this weekby the Information, which cited three unnamed sources apparently familiar with the company’s plans. No specific acquisition targets were identified, but Google Chief Executive Larry Page is said to be “serious about making a move.”

The news comes after Google announced a major shakeup in its hardware divisions. The Mountain View, Calif., company purchased Nest Labs, maker of a smart home thermostat, for $3.2 billion, while it also sold off its Motorola Mobility hardware division to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

The new report also reaffirmed existing rumors that Apple is working on a wrist-worn smart watch that would track user information such as fitness and sleep patterns.

Moves apparently being plotted by both Google and Apple are yet another sign that competition is about to grow in the emerging wearable computing market. To date, perhaps the most successful wearable product has not come from a major tech company, but instead from startup Pebble, which is set to launch its own smart watch appstore.

Contact

Of course, Google wouldn’t be entirely new to the wearable market, as the company has offered developers test versions of its Glass headset for some time. The company plans to make Google Glass a product available to the public at some point in the future.

Until then, Google has been hyping Glass with an “Experience Tour” making stops around the U.S. The tour gives enthusiasts the ability to test out Glass for themselves, even if they are not a member of Google’s developer community.

This month Google also revealed a new smart contact lens that could track glucose levels for diabetics. The wearable contact lens would obtain glucose levels from a user’s tears, making it easy to track potential health concerns without the need for invasive testing.

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CNET: The future of wearables: 8 predictions from tech leaders

Wearables: Everybody in the tech world is talking about them, but no one has quite nailed it — yet.

The category, which includes everything from smart glasses that record video to watches that answer phone calls, is generating some of the biggest buzz in the tech industry, and for good reason. Wearables are a long way from overtaking smartphones, but the market is expected to grow at a fast pace over the next few years.

Perhaps no one has a better view of what’s ahead in the wearables market than the companies supplying the critical components. CNET talked with top executives from ARM Holdings, Broadcom, Freescale, Intel, Mediatek, and Qualcomm — which will supply the brains and wireless chips for these devices — to find out their views on where wearables are going. Here are some of their thoughts:

The field is wide open
So far, there’s no clear winner running away with the market, though many are trying. Nike,Fitbit, and other fitness bands dominate about 90 percent of wearables sales, according to Accenture. But SonyPebble, and others have also built devices with more features, including notifications and the ability to snap photos and access apps. Samsung has tried to position itself as a leader in wearables with its smartwatch and a strong marketing campaign, but it’s unclear just how well Gear is selling. Google, meanwhile, is going after smart eyewear with Glass.

What does that mean? Anyone could have a hit, even if it’s not a big name like Samsung. There’s also still plenty of opportunity for someone, like Apple, to come up with something amazing that blows everyone away. It’s clear that no one has really yet come up with the magic combination that attracts the masses.

“We don’t know who’s going to win,” Qualcomm CEO-elect Steve Mollenkopf said.

Fitness and health bands will remain king — at least for a while
Health devices make up the vast majority of wearables sales today, and that’s likely to continue. Other devices have to find a way to appeal to a specific consumer need before they really take off. Right now, many are too complicated to be useful.

Even health-focused wearables will continue to evolve and add new features. New sensors will allow devices to detect various biometrics beyond what’s possible today. For example, companies are working on noninvasive blood chemistry sensors that transmit a laser beam to measure glucose levels and other factors.

“Those kind of sensors are within our grasp,” Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor said.

Expect a lot more new entrants
Making a fitness band or smartwatch isn’t quite as complex — or as pricey — as building a smartphone or laptop. And the chip companies, who want to help grow the wearables market, are making it as easy as they can. Many have built reference designs that customers can take and rebrand as their own. They’ve also created things like electronics boards that have all the necessary components integrated together.

“Because it is inexpensive to put some of these products together, it does open the door for new companies,” said ARM Holdings CEO Simon Segars.

Kickstarter has helped companies like Pebble start from scratch and focus on just one thing: Making a great wearable device. That’s going to continue, but chipmakers predict companies focused on other areas also will jump into the market. That could be health care and medical device companies looking at devices like a glucose monitor. Traditional watchmakers could add a touch of “smart” to their products as well.

There will be more of an emphasis on aesthetics
The vast majority of smartwatches on the market, and to some extent even Google Glass, are bulky and look more like a piece of technology than a fashion item. That’s going to change as companies focus more on design and making devices that are more discrete.

“They have to look like something you really want to wear before they get mass adoption,” said Mike Bell, head of Intel’s mobile business. “A problem they have is everything is a square touch screen. I’m pretty sure long term that’s not what people are going to want to wear all the time.”

 

Various companies displayed new wearables in early January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

 

Companies have already taken some steps to make their devices more fashionable. For instance, Pebble and Martian showed watches at CES that look more like regular watches than smart devices. And Google has released versions of Glass with prescription lenses and frames based on popular, regular glasses styles.

Glasses and watches are a start
Look for completely different products to emerge. Health care is an area that could see a surge in wearables. We’ll also see more wearables for pets, such as new activity and biometrics trackers, as well as toys.

There will also be other types of devices that extend the capabilities of the smartphone or allow for social interaction, like a ring that lights up when a loved one taps the other half of the matching pair.

Another big area is clothing. For instance, manufacturers are working on smart buttons that could change the color of a fabric when pushed or buttons and fabric that could measure UV exposure in sports equipment.

“This year we’re hoping to see the beginning of the wearables market showing its diversity,” said Robert Thompson, business development leader for Freescale’s i.MX application processor line.

The “Internet of Things” will be a driver of wearables
The Internet of Things, where regular items such as refrigerators or washing machines have enough smarts to talk to each other, is another hot trend. So far, very few wearables connect with those products.

Samsung’s Smart Home, unveiled at CES, lets users manage all their connected appliances and devices through a single application. It also works with the Galaxy Gear. We’ll see many more examples like this over the coming years.

Devices won’t need the smartphone to operate
Essentially all wearables need to connect to an even smarter device, like a smartphone, to function. Galaxy Gear, for instance, sends an alert when an e-mail arrives and lets you read a paragraph or so, but you have to go to your phone to actually read the entire note and respond. Many others operate in the same manner.

At some point, there will be smartwatches and other devices that will break free of that link.

“Smart devices, until they become untethered or do something interesting on their own, will be too complicated and not really fulfill the promise of what smart devices can do,” Intel’s Bell said. “These devices have to be standalone and do something great on their own to get mass adoption. Then if they can do something else once you pair it, that’s fine.”

Prices will drop
Early adopters always pay a premium for new products, and that goes double for new categories. Those sky-high levels will eventually come down. In addition, the sheer amount of new players coming into the wearables market will guarantee a low-cost option.

Of course, pricing will depend on the use of the product. If it has more functionally or can even operate on its own without a smartphone, it will cost much more than devices that rely on another smart gadget.

“We see it more as an accessory or companion device,” said Mediatek Chief Marketing Officer Johan Lodenius. “Therefore, price points have to be very low, like $50 or less.”

No matter how the market shapes up, the chipmakers agree on one key thing: wearables are almost certainly going to shake up our lives in the years to come.

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