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Tech Advisor: What is a smartwatch? Wearable technology explained

Smartwatches have been around for a little while now and are set to boom this year, but what exactly is a smartwatch? We explain everything you need to know about the wearable technology.

To put it simply, a smartwatch is a wristwatch with screen and the ability to do much more than tell you the time. In essence, it’s like having a tiny smartphone on your wrist but there are a few things to explain about them so read on.

How much do smartwatches cost?

You can get hold of a smartwatch for under £100 (the original Sony SmartWatch to name one), but the majority will cost more than this. Sony’s SmartWatch 2 costs £149 and other like the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Pebble Steel are around the £250 mark.

If these are a bit out of your price range then be patient because firm’s like Archos are planning on launching smartwatches for as little as £50.

How do smartwatches work?

As a rule of thumb, a smartwatch needs to be hooked up to a smartphone in order to work to its full potential. One will probably only tell you the time if you don’t. This is done via Bluetooth pairing, with some devices allowing for quick and easy setup using NFC chips.

Once you’ve connected a smartwatch to a smartphone, you can choose what notifications you get on your wrist – things like messages, emails, calls and social networks. Many smartwatches can do more than let you know mum’s calling, too. Apps might let you control what music is playing on your phone or take a photo remotely. Functionality varies from smartwatch to smartwatch so check before you buy.

Sony SmartWatch 2

Will any smartwatch work with my smartphone?

A good question and, in a word, the answer is no. Smartwatches are generally developed to work with particular mobile phone platforms – namely iOS and Android so this is another thing to check before you buy.

Some smartwatches are only compatible with specific smartphones as well, not just the operating system. A prime example is the Samsung Galaxy Gear which only works with select Samsung phones like the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3.

What smartwatches will launch this year?

We know that Archos will launch its range of smartwatches this summer, but many more have been rumoured. Samsung is thought to be launching the Galaxy Gear 2 at MWC and 2014 could be the year we see Apple’s iWatch and smartwatches from Microsoft, Google or even Amazon.

We’re always keeping our eyes open so we’ll let you know if we hear anything.

Blurred lines: Is my fitness tracker a smartwatch?

As of CES 2014, the lines between fitness trackers and smartwatches have been very much blurred. We’ve reached the point where one device is likely to have some of the functionality of the other.

Many of fitness gadgets which we took a look at in Las Vegas also offer smartwatch type features such as call and message notifications. Prime examples include the LG Lifeband Touch and Razer Nabu. Meanwhile, fitness tracking apps are available for various smartwatches which are already on the market.

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Woojer Is A Wearable Audio Device That May Forever Change How You Experience Music, Film And Video Games!

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

The Woojer Prototype. (Jason Evangelho)

A new personal audio device called Woojer launched on Kickstarter this morning, promising users a new level of immersion by actually allowing them to “feel the sound,” especially after reporting on ViviTouch’s haptic-based headphone technologyearlier this year.

On a basic level, Woojer is a silent, wearable device that reproduces bass frequencies. The same ones you feel hitting your chest when attending a live concert. It’s a tactile and borderline-emotional experience for music lovers, and no headphones in existence — nope, not Beats or Pulse — have been able to replicate it (yet).

Put simply, the box translates low frequency sounds into silent tactile sensations.

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Wearable Tech Products: Products Designed for the Wrist Could Have the Upper Hand.

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

Smart Watch called Pebble ( getpebble)

Tech companies are all on wrist-watch these days: Google is reportedly getting ready to release a smartwatch, Samsung put out the Galaxy Gear watch a few weeks ago. There’s also a Sony SmartWatch on the market and Apple is reportedly close to coming out with a smartwatch of its own. No question about it, the wrist-wars are upon us.

“I love the idea of when I get an email alert, to be able to see it on my wrist without having to take out my phone or unlock my screen,” says Tara Calishain, editor of ResearchBuzz.

That ease of use is behind the growing market for wearable technology. “The body is the next landscape for personal computing,” says Sarah Rotman-Epps, senior analyst at Forrester Research. And the wrist is the first frontier. A survey from Forrester found 29% of adults would wear a sensory device on their wrist, but only 12% were comfortable wearing something like Google Glass. But comfortable may not be enough.

“As a woman I can say, if it weren’t my job to wear these products, I would never do it,” says Rotman-Epps. The reason? Right now smartwatches look a lot like those watches from the 80s that had little calculators on them, which is  a huge problem, says Debra Kaye, partner at Lucule Consulting. “Something that we put on our bodies is part of our status, it’s part of who we are,” says Kaye. And no one really wants to be the 80s calulator watch person.

But that also means that once tech companies get smartwatches right, the payoff could be huge. “The wrist is like the Holy grail for wearable technology,” says Kaye. “If you can get something on the wrist, you can really own a person’s body.” In other words, says Kaye,  the technology will become part of our identity, not just something we carry around.

 

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Wearable Tech Application: Apply Wearable Technology to the Airport Experience

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

Connect wearable tech to airport experience. (Tnooz)

As one of the privileged few to be given a pair of Google Glass to play with earlier this year, SITA Lab did not sit on its hands.

Instead, the research arm of air transport IT specialist SITA, thought how Google Glass specifically and wearable technology in general might improve the overall airport experience.

Today the organisation publishes its report on wearable technology and how it could completely change how we interact with information.

The  headline finding is that there’s lots of potential, Credit Suisse estimates a $50bn market in three to five years, but quite a few elements need to fall into place.

That said, SITA Lab used Google Glass and Vuzix M100 to develop SWIFT Boarding which using the built in scanner and the heads-up display enables gate staff to simultaneously verify boarding passes and passports.

 

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Apple iWatch Release Date News

Esben Oxholm

 

 

 

 

According to Latin Times, with Samsung, Pebble and Sony diving head first into the smart watch pool, Apple cannot be far behind with its latest tech in order to keep up with the competition. The rumor mill has been churning with news of the long anticipated iWatch. The futuristic device will allow users to make calls, listen to music and do a number of other tasks right off of their own wrist. Oh yea, it tells time to, just incase you were wondering. Rumors regarding the iWatch release date and a number of other features have been flying around as of late.

Rumored features for the iWatch include a slap wrist design for the bracelet and a flexible OLED display among others. Many people may not think of Apple first when it comes to flexible displays. However the Korean media website The Chosunilbo is reporting that Apple is working on equipping the iWatch with a flexible display. The Chosunilbo is reporting that Apple is testing out plastic OLED monitors that will allow the wearer to bend the screen. It does make sense for a device that is intended to wrap around your wrist to have a flexible display.

Other rumors surrounding the Apple iWatch say the device will run iOS perfectly and will give the user easier access to apps. The Verge is reporting that the iWatch will be compatible with iOS rather than use the sometimes-limiting operating system featured on the iPod Nano. Unfortunately iOS on the iWatch may limit battery life. Rumors suggest that Apple is hoping for at least four days between charges. However reports are suggesting that Apple has been testing the device, which needs charging every two days.

 

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New Google Glass is On Its Way !

New Google Glass will work better with eyeglasses and include an ear bud for better audio. Source: Google

According to CNN, A new version of Google Glass, the company’s breakthrough entry into the world of wearable tech, is on the way.

Current testers, or “Explorers,” in Google’s parlance, will get a chance to swap out their current models for the new ones, the company said in a Google+ post.

The new Google Glass hardware will work with eyeglasses or shades, and include an ear bud to replace the speaker in the current model. The bone-conduction speaker, which, similar to some hearing aids, literally sends sound waves through the skull to the ear, has been called faulty by some testers.

The swap begins Friday and testers will have 60 days to decide if they want new Glass.

The roughly 10,000 current testers also be able to invite up to three friends into the program, which requires testers to fork over the current $1,500 price of the glasses.

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Mic Wright’s Billion-dollar Question: Will Apple’s new iPads be joined by the iWatch?

Will Apple's new iPads be joined by the iWatch? The iPhone 5S holds the answers

Will Apple’s new iPads be joined by the iWatch? (Photo: Cultofmac.com)

For Mic Wright, Apple leaks. Apple teases. Apple tells us a lot with little clues. The Apple press game is just that: a game. There’s a strain of conspiracy theorist whackadoo in comment sections – made up of the sort of drooling loonball who writes “fanboi”, “iSuck” and other hilarious puns – which will tell you Apple pays off journalists and throws out freebies like a broken vending machine. Nothing is further from the truth.

Apple’s strategic leaks usually come through two or three hacks at the Wall Street Journal. Read “rumour” stories placed there in the days or weeks before an event and you’ll see the line that Apple wants to stoke. It might be “cheaper” devices coming, it might be that a product will be more expensive than expected, only for Apple to then reveal it is much more “affordable” as its CEO Tim Cook does his affable Texan routine, avoiding the carnival barker enthusiasm that Steve Jobs was wont to slip into on occasion.

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