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Thread: Whats a wearable? Explore the growing trend of wearable technology

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    Whats a wearable? Explore the growing trend of wearable technology

    Wearableís looks set to be 2014's biggest buzzword. It's a bit of an odd one, since the idea of wearable technology encompasses a lot of different things - but it's also the logical conclusion of decades of technological innovation. First computers were as big as a room, then they were small enough to sit under a desk, then small enough to fold up and stick in your bag, then in your pocket, and now they're small enough to wear as an accessory.

    This year, there are a lot of companies determined to convince you to wear your tech. If you've ever been startled by someone talking into a Bluetooth earpiece, you might want to sit down now. Let's take a look at the wearable technology coming to a high street near you very soon ...
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    Smart Glasses
    Wearing lenses on your face to Improve your natural ability to see is already a common practice, so maybe it was only a matter of time before someone decided to bring computers into the equation. The most hyped brand of smart glasses 15 Google Glass: according to Google's demos, Glass will be able to display useful Information, take pictures and video, send and receive messages and upload content to the internet.

    Glass will have a Siri style Interface that will let users talk directly to their glasses; the requested information will then be displayed on the Inside of the lenses. Essentially, wearing Google Glass will be a bit like being the Terminator, with digital information being displayed in front of your eyes whenever you need it.
    Although Google Glass is still in development and not available to buy just yet, the project is moving ahead quickly. Thanks to the Explorer program, where Google picked a bunch of adventurous types to tryout a beta version of Glass, you might already have seen a pair of Glass, um, glasses in the wild. There has even already been a minor controversy over the technology, when a Glass user was thrown out of an Ohio cinema for suspected piracy - and privacy campaigners have already begun rallying against the use of the technology, saying the use of face-mounted cameras will infringe on people's ability to go about their lives without feeling constantly under scrutiny.

    That probably won't bother Google or any other company that fancies following in Google's footsteps. Samsung already has a patent for a pair of augmented reality glasses, and it seems likely that we'll hear more about a rival for Glass from it later this year, Enjoy seeing the world clearly and without annotations while it lasts, then; it looks like bionic glasses are in our future.

    Smart watches
    Like glasses, watches are something many of us already wear on a daily basis, so smart watches seem like a sensible development. Samsung Is leading the charge on this front: the Galaxy Gear smartwatch was released last September, and there are already rumors about a second version to be unveiled later this year, but let's stick with the one we know about though. Although the Galaxy Gear has many of the same features as a smartphone, it isn't a stand-alone device: It's made to be paired with another Samsung tablet or smartphone.
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    The idea is that it gives you easy access to a basic version of common phone and tablet features, so if your device is in your bag, you might not hear it beeping or ringing, but you would notice your watch flashing or making a noise. Then, rather than needing to dig out your phone to answer it, you can take the call on your watch. Yup, you can finally make your childhood dream of talking into your wrist like a spy come true.

    The Galaxy Gear has a whole host of other features too; it can take photos, take memos and play music and video. It's a pretty swish device but has been generally greeted with disappointment - it's been called ugly, bulky and generally not as good as it ought to be. However, the lackluster reception hasn't stopped Samsung from working on a successor, and it hasn't stopped other companies from working to get in on the smartwatch action. Archos has developed a line of smartwatches, as has Sony, and even Apple is rumored to be working on an iWatch.

    Maybe the most promising of the smartwatches, though, is the Pebble. Backed by a Kick starter campaign that raised a record-breaking $10 million, it's the nicest-looking of all the smartwatches currently available and can integrate with both Android devices and iPhones. There's a wide range of apps available for it already, and unlike the Gear, which needs to be charged almost every day, the Pebble battery lasts for up to a week. Companies have tried cramming more features into wristwatches for years without anything really taking off, but something like the Pebble might finally convince the masses that watches can do more than just tell the time.

    Location Trackers
    Another surprisingly large category of wearable involves strapping a GPS tracker to your child - or your pet or your keys or anything else you might be worried about losing. The Filip looks like a childish smartwatch, and it essentially is, because it's capable of making voice calls and telling the time, but itís most important feature is the built-in locator. It uses a mixture of GPS, GSM, and Wi-Fi triangulation to locate itself, meaning parents can check on where their kids are - and then call them if they're worried.
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    There's also an emergency button that kids can use if they need to; in an emergency, the Filip will use its location capabilities, switch on sound recording and try calling the contacts stored in its memory until someone picks up and comes to the rescue. It might seem like a device born of paranoia, but it's a pretty smart one nonetheless. It's not available in the UK yet, but it's probably just a matter of time. Other kid-tracking devices have slightly different features: the Guardian by Beluvv allows parents to define a safely zone and notifies them if their kid goes beyond it, while the Revolutionary Tracker RT-01 triggers a variety of notifications if It's removed, letting parents know exactly when and where it was when it was taken off.

    Meanwhile, for pets who might gel lost but probably wouldn't be able to set off an SOS button, there's the BeLuvv Puppy or Pet Tracker Tagg, both of which are small enough to be fitted to an animalís collar. The built-in GPS system lets owners check where their pets are, and both devices also let users define safe zones and get alerts if the animal leaves them.

    Finally, for inanimate objects, there's the Tile tracker, a small Bluetooth device that you can stick to your laptop, keys, wallet or other prized possession. It's got a built-in speaker so you can call it to try to find it (kind of like those old clapper key rings) or you could use the iOS app to locate it for you. It only works within a range of I SO feet, though there's a community aspect that lets you ask other Tile users to -find It If they're within 150 feet of your stuff instead. If it catches on, this'll either be brilliantly useful or brilliantly useful for pickpockets.

    Health And Fitness Trackers
    Thanks to social media, we're already encouraged to track and share almost every aspect of our daily lives, so wearable trackers seem like another obvious gadget category. Wearable pedometers - the kind you clip to your belt or waistband - have been around for years, and there are plenty of smartphone apps that can use your phone's accelerometer or GPS to track your movement, but if you're really serious about improving your health, there are lots more wearables coming down the pipeline.

    For example, there's the Jawbone UP. It's a wristband that's designed to be worn 24 hours a day, and it tracks everything to do with your diet and exercise and even your sleep patterns. It can tell how much deep and light sleep you're getting, based on how much you're moving around, and it has a nap setting that'll let you sleep for 45 minutes before gently waking you up; if you're inactive for too long while you're awake, on the other hand, it can set off an alert to remind you to get up and move around, The associated app will keep a handle on what you're eating and make connections between that, the quality of your sleep and your moods - and make recommendations accordingly. Basically, itís like the strictest, most watchful personal trainer you've ever met, and it won't let you cheat.

    Competing fitness wristbands include the Fit Bit Flex which has built-In LEDs that can display your progress towards preset goals; the LG Life band Touch, which has music controls if you're playing music on your phone while working out; and the Sony Smartband, which lets you track when you take photos, what music you're listening to and which films you've watched, on top of the IifeS1yletracking features. If any of these things can be programmed to tweet after a workout or a good night's sleep, you might need to unfollow most of your friends.
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    One feature that all of these fitness trackers are missing, though, is a sensor for tracking how much exposure you're getting to the sun. Enter the June bracelet from Netatmo, which can calculate how much UV exposure is too much for an individual's skin type and alert them when they've been in the sunshine for too long. It's aimed at women, as the design suggests, but watch this spacemen can get sunburnt too, so it's only a matter of time till there's a watch with a similar feature built in.

    And There's More
    The 'wearables' detailed here are Just the tip of the iceberg. If the trend kicks off the way manufacturers are hoping it will, there'll be a lot smarter accessories coming our way In future. Google is already working on bionic contact lenses that can measure blood glucose levels, while Sony has filed a patent for a 'Smart Wig', which would be able to measure a wearer's blood pressure.

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    Smart clothes are just over the horizon too in a few years' time, you might be wearing a shirt that measures your heart rate while your socks measure how far you've run and connect to an app that'll tell you to correct your stride. It all sounds a bit Tomorrow's World, but there's a potentially huge market Just waiting to open up for all these things. It'll be fun to see just what technology brand come up with next.

  2. #2
    Ahead Of Their Time
    Cool, here are few more wearable
    Wearables might be a hot new trend in 2014, but it's not a completely new idea. Various kinds of wearable technology have been launched in the past, with limited success. Maybe, they were just ahead of their time? Here are a few products that, if they were invented now, might have been able to hop on the bandwagon:

    Casio CFX-400 Calculator Watch

    The CFX-400 came out in the 80s and might be seen as a forerunner to today's smartwatches. It wasn't just any old calculator watch; it had a full scientific calculator built in, letting it do complex math. That also meant it was massive, unwieldy and somewhat hideous.

    Forte VFX1 Headgear

    A virtual reality headset that was launched in the late 90s, which would apparently let gamers literally go into the world of their favourite games. It wasn't the only one of its kind; virtual reality was meant to change the world, but it, urn, didn't. Maybe because it was a bit rubbish.

    Polaroid GL20 Sunglasses

    Lady Gaga designed these glasses- with built-in cameras and LCD screens - In collaboration with Polaroid in 2011. The idea was that the wearer could photograph anything they were looking at or even live-stream it; they could also watch video or look at images on the screens inside the lenses. Sadly these glasses never actually went into production.

    TshirtOS LED T-shirts

    The most wearable of all technologies, the TshirtOS had built-in LEDs that could be programmed to flash customized messages. Launched in 2012, they haven't quite gone away, but they never really caught on either becaudcsse let's face it, they're a bit daft.

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    Google Glass

    Essentially a wearable computer, Google Glass is a pair of glasses, which contain a head-mounted display and built-in camera. They respond to gestures and voice commands and display information on the lens, smartphone-style. A touch pad on one side allows you to control certain aspects by swiping your finger, and you can take 5MP photos and record 720p video. Current units run on Android 4.0.4, have built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, 16GB of internal storage and various other pieces of technology you'd expect to find in your smartphone. It even runs its own apps.

    If all of that sounds overly futuristic, you can take some comfort in knowing that it's supposed to. The project is the work of Google X, the wing of Google that is also developing its driverless car technology. At present, it isn't available to consumers, but if you live in the US (or know how you can convincingly pretend to) you can apply to participate in its 'Explorer' program, which allows you to buy its prototype device for the insane sum of $1,500 (plus tax), but the consumer version will be cheaper, it claims.

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