“Wearables” are an upcoming category of tech products that are designed to be with you all the time. From high-tech watches (iWatch, anyone?) to Google Glass, wearables are part function, part fashion. Here are five new wearable tech products worth a second look.
Another impossibly popular and highly anticipated smartwatch, the team behind the Agent Smartwatch raised more than US$1 million through Kickstarter to fund this new wearable. The watch is filled with all kinds of tech tricks, including a black-and-white “memory LCD” that uses no power unless it’s being updated, it’s Bluetooth enabled, and it runs downloadable apps. A waterproof shell is made possible by another feature unique to the Agent: wireless Qi charging, so there are no exposed electronics and nothing to plug in at night. Shipping in 2014. The cost:
If you’re looking for more fitness functionality (in something sleeker than a chunky watch), the Fitbit Flex is a wristband that can fit in even when you’re wearing couture. The activity monitor—designed to be worn all the time—tracks steps taken and calories burned during the day and monitors how well you’re sleeping at night. A silent alarm even rouses you for work so your partner gets to sleep in. The interface couldn’t be simpler: the five tiny lights on the band each represent 20 percent of your goal for the day (10,000 steps, perhaps). For more stats, just sync up with your computer or smartphone. The cost:
Smartwatches are the hottest mobile electronics category running today, and Pebble has generated a fair amount of buzz just for being the first offering in the market. Outfitted not with a color LCD but with a black-and-white e-paper display (similar to but not quite the same as that on Amazon’s Kindle), this watch connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone, letting you check your texts and e-mails, control your music playback, and get buzzed on your wrist when calls come on. It even runs apps and tells time. The company promises a week of battery life before a recharge is needed. The cost:
Game nuts are going gaga for the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that brings immersive, 3-D video games to Windows PCs and, eventually, mobile phones. Strap the Oculus Rift to your noggin and take a look around. Your perspective changes in step with your actual physical motion, with two stereoscopic 3-D screens inside updating in real time, based on where you’re pointing your head. Early users call the effect uncanny and likely to change the face of video gaming as we know it. Currently available for developers only, the company hopes to ship the headset to consumers in early 2014. The estimated cost:
The original activity monitor is still one of the most popular: a wristband that works as a combination watch, pedometer, and calorie counter. You can display and cycle through all of them with the push of a button on the bracelet. The big draw, however, is the “NikeFuel” system, which is a special measure of activity level based on your overall energy expenditure—and is designed to go beyond merely counting steps. It’s here where you get to compare your performance to your friends’ in a game-like environment on your synced computer or iPhone, and push yourself through the app’s highly motivating system of rewards, milestones, and other achievements. The estimated cost: