The wearable tech space is about to expand ten-fold this year as most companies are in unchartered waters and we are yet to find that benchmark product, against which everything will be compared to. We’ve currently seen two forms of wearable tech gain prominence– Google Glass and smart watches — and we feel, the latter has much higher chance of gaining mainstream acceptance rapidly than something like Glass’s head-mounted display. We’ve seen countless devices from Kickstarter projects such as the Pebble, arguably the most successful smartwatch so far, and even Tier-I OEMs such as Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm dabbling in this territory.
Let’s take a look at what more can be expected at CES, which kicks off on January 7. This time around there’s a dedicated zone called WristRevolution at the Las Vegas event and major watch manufacturers will be throwing their hats into the smartwatch ring.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear might have been in the news for all the wrong reasons but they are determined to redeem themselves with a new device which will presumably be called the Galaxy Band. If rumours are to be believed, then the Band will boast of a whole bunch of sensors for monitoring and tracking your workout and other activity. Unlike the Gear, the Band will be more of a fitness oriented device rather than for communication. The company is teasing the general shape of the device on its official CES website. We don’t think this is the successor to the Gear but more of an expansion of Samsung’s wearable portfolio.
Samsung teases the Galaxy Band
Unsurprisingly, Intel is all set to enter the wearable space as well. Although they haven’t hinted at a smart watch in particular, they will be announcing a new range of Quark chipsets, which are extremely low-powered chips for devices that need to be constantly connected.
In an interview with ReCode, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said, “What you will see at CES is that we are actually going to bring some very innovative wearables to the show that are developed and manufactured here.” We have no idea what Intel is cooking up but they promise new uses for tablets and new innovations in imaging.
Intel announced Quark for wearables at IDF (Image credit: AnandTech)
At the WristRevolution zone, 10 smartwatch manufacturers will be exhibiting their new products. Burg Limited, Cookoo, Sonostar, Kronoz, Metawatch, and Neptune Pine are some of the exhibitors in this space and we will likely see a wide variety of smartwatches ranging from 'kitchen-sink' wearables to basic second notification screens. With the likes of Pebble and FitBit also slated to announce new products and projects, there's bound to be a great deal of excitement since their existing offerings have already gained popularity.
A new Pebble is expected at the event
Another big company to watch out for in this space is Basis. Its B1 tracker watch is overloaded with sensors that track heart rate, skin temperature and perspiration and its CEO Jef Holove believes that since smartphones in 2014 will be doing most of the sensor-based heavy-lifting, fitness trackers will have to look beyond basic sensor data. This probably explains the presence of a heart-rate monitor and perspiration tracker in the B1.
LG is another manufacturer with some standing in the smartphone market, that is slated to reveal new wearable devices at CES. The company is reportedly preparing a duo of trackers for the show, one of which has already leaked. These will work with the existing line-up of LG phones and also presumably other Android devices. The Lifeband Touch is the first of LG’s wearables, and the company has confirmed that it will be launching wearables this year.
LG Lifeband Touch leaked image
When it comes to stuff beyond smartwatches, Google Glass is the kingpin, but it may soon have a slew of competitors too. HUD maker Vuzix will be back at CES to show off the successor to its augmented-reality-based M100, the world's first commercially available smart glasses.
Another company, GlassUp will be showing a toned-down version of Google Glass in terms of looks and functionality, which displays lines of text (tweets, email, messages etc) directly in your sight line.
There will be a whole lot more in the wearables space as far as CES is concerned and we are sure the above round-up is just scratching the surface. Join us for all the coverage from Las Vegas this year from next week onwards.