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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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CIO: Why Smartwatches, Glasses and Other Wearable Tech are No Gimmick

There’s good reason for that; these gadgets are some of the most popular examples of wearable tech today. But they’re far from all the category entails. And the many analysts, VPs, product development reps and evangelists who spoke at a panel on wearable technology at CTIA’s MobileCon 2013 event this week all believe that wearable tech, or just “wearables,” will become a part of everyday life as much as smartphones and mobile apps have.

The specifics and timeframe on the predictions in the panel varied widely, but every speaker is confident that wearable technology isn’t a passing fad.

Redg Snodgrass, co-founder of Stained Glass Labs, a “group of forerunners for the wearable computing movement,” spoke during the MobileCon panel. He breaks the current wearables market into three divisions: Smart clothing, smart glasses and smartwatches.

Snodgrass, who was wearing a BASIS smartwatch during his presentation, says the wearables markets will face some of the same challenges the smartphone space did in the past years, including fragmentation. But unlike in the consumer smartphone world, Apple isn’t leading the charge.

In the wearable market, “instead of being follower, Samsung is the leader. Apple is going to be the follower.” (Samsung recently released its Galaxy Gear watch. Read my take on that device here.)


Putting User Data to Use via Wearable Technology


The MobileCon Wearable Tech panel was broken into two parts: one based on data collection via the various sensors embedded within wearable gadgets (the “input”) and the second on presenting the data to users in valuable and, perhaps more importantly, actionable ways (the “output”).

Most popular wearable gadgets today are based on the principle of collecting data from the users and then presenting it via the gadget itself in real-time or via a Web interface later on to show more granular information or trends over time. The gadgets available today are also fairly simple, packing similarly simple sensors such as pedometers. Most are companion devices to smartphones. Some take advantage of other sensors built into those devices, including accelerometers and GPS.

The majority of panel members seem to agree that for the time being, and for the next few years, wearable technology will come in the form of “companion devices” designed to work with smartphones. The Galaxy Gear and Pebble smartwatches, two of the most popular devices in the category, are both designed to work with smartphones, as are Fitbit fitness trackers.

“It doesn’t always make sense to replicate the sensors in phones,” according to Marco Della Torre, VP of business development at BASIS Science, maker of the BASIS smartwatch.


BASIS Smartwatch

BASIS Smartwatch


Della Torre says his company’s watch is unique in that it’s not just about motion sensors. BASIS is working hard to make a device that’s functional but also aesthetically pleasing while focusing on how to truly motivate and engage people with the data its device collects.

Users have varying degrees of health and wellness levels. Some are very analytical and want granular data, while others just want very simple metrics, according to Della Torre. The challenge is providing value to the full range of users, he says. The BASIS watch itself provides real-time metrics at a glance, and the associated Web interface lets users dig into data as they see fit.

Sam Massir, director of business development, wearables, at InvenSense, says his company is working on developing smarter algorithms. One significant area of focus for InvenSense is activity recognition. The idea is for devices to automatically recognize a user’s current activity so they don’t constantly have to interact with a watch or other wearable.

“We’re trying to solve activity recognition on the wrist,” Massir says. “We don’t always want to be looking to the phone. Algorithms can help. The smarter the algorithms, the higher the classification can be.”

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With Samsung Galaxy Gear, the Watch of the Future Is Not Quite Here Yet

Golden Networking’s Wearable Computing Conference 2013 New York City: Revolutionizing the Human Experience Through Next-Generation Technology

Samsung Galaxy Gear (Lauren Goode)

For my column this week, I’ve been testing the Samsung Galaxy Gear, a new “smart” watch that connects via Bluetooth to a Samsung mobile device, and shows you notifications on the watch display. I’m not sure where to start.

Maybe I should go back about a week, to when I was enjoying a Sunday dinner with friends ranging in age from 13 to 72. They all eyed the watch curiously. Earlier in the evening, I had taken a picture of their family cat with my watch.

Finally, someone asked about the watch, someone else asked how much it cost, and a conversation about watches ensued. The 13-year-old announced that he has never worn a watch, then went back to playing on his iPhone.

Watches often mean something to people, whether it’s an inherited watch, a utility or a fashion statement. With a techie watch like the Samsung Galaxy Gear — somewhat utilitarian and probably only perceived as fashionable at a tech convention — I found it was hard to get attached to it.


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Revolution in Health Monitoring by Wearable Tech Company

Golden Networking’s Wearable Computing Conference 2013 New York City: Revolutionizing the Human Experience Through Next-Generation Technology

The AIRO wristband provides recommendations for improving overall health by using light wavelengths to monitor nutrition, exercise, stress and sleep patterns. (AIRO Health)

Combining technology and health monitoring is by no means a new concept. It started with basic pedometers several decades ago, which were more recently integrated into personal electronic devices like iPods and smartphones. Today, countlessmobile applications tracking everything from calories and weight loss to workouts and sleep cycles are available to the health-conscious, and they show no signs of decreasing in popularity.

With so many health tracking apps and devices out there, it might seem crazy for a new tech startup founded by three engineering graduates to try to break into the market. But Abhi Jayakumar, CEO of Ontario, Canada-based AIRO Health, realized that the product he and his co-founders had spent more than a year creating had the potential to revolutionize wearable health technology. While mostapps track just one aspect of health, the AIRO wristband monitors nutrition, stress, exercise and sleep patterns all at once, the company said.




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Samsung Adds Galaxy Gear Support to More Phones

Samsung has announced the rolling out of a key software update that will bring Galaxy Gear smartwatch support to more of its phones in the United States. Source: Sharif Sakr

According to Engadget, Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile) announced today that the Samsung Galaxy S® 4, Galaxy Note® II and Galaxy S® III will receive the Premium Suite software update in the coming weeks that makes the devices compatible with Samsung Galaxy Gear. Premium Suite timing and features vary by carrier and product, with updates beginning today.

Galaxy Gear extends the Galaxy smartphone experience to your wrist and enhances everyday moments with real time updates for quick and convenient access. Now, owners of the latest Galaxy smartphones will be able to stay connected with discreet notifications and tap into the exceptional features of Galaxy Gear, such as hands-free calling, music control and S Voice™ access.

In addition to Galaxy Gear compatibility, Samsung’s Premium Suite will bring Android 4.3 and additional features to these premiere smartphones. The update brings the flagship experiences introduced on the Galaxy S 4 to the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III including updated Easy Mode, Multi Window™, advanced camera options, and additional features with new functionality.

All of the smartphones receiving the update are SAFE™ (Samsung for Enterprise), giving users the confidence that their device is suitable for use in the workplace. Additionally, the devices will be ready for KNOX™, Samsung’s comprehensive solution that enhances Android security from the hardware layer to the application layer and allows users to safely and efficiently separate work and personal data on a single device.

The Galaxy S® 4 mini and Galaxy Mega™ will also receive an update in the coming months to be compatible with Galaxy Gear.

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Battery matters for wearable computer

Battery matters for wearable computer

Reuters reports that longer-lasting batteries are crucial for a new crop of wearable computers whose rise may upend Apple and Google’s dominance of mobile devices, two of the field’s pioneers say.

Wearable devices—from bracelets that monitor physical activity and sleeping patterns to clothing with built-in sensors and Web-ready glasses—may mark the next big technology shift, just as smartphones evolved from personal computers. That transition has put the unglamorous battery in a starring role.

“All this wearable stuff is constrained by battery technology. It’s not a computing problem,” Hosain Rahman, CEO of Jawbone, told the Reuters Global Technology Summit on Monday.

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