Wearable devices present the next frontier to high technology. Consumers probably know the potential of these devices from Google’s wearable eye-gear – Google Glass to Samsung’s wearable wrist-wear – Samsung Gear. However, wearable devices cover more functionalities than these mentioned here. They monitor a wearer’s heartbeat, present information from other communicating devices, and suggest courses of action, for example geographical directions. This article will examine five of the wearable devices that are currently in the market, and are refined enough to offer functionalities at an affordable price. It will discuss the Pebble Watch and Steel, Run-n-Read, Epson’s Moverio Smart Glasses, Nymi’s Wristband, and Fitbit Force wearable devices.
1. Pebble Smart Watch and Pebble Steel
A crowd-funded startup first released the Pebble smart watch in 2012. However, many users claimed it did not have enough physical appeal. Nevertheless, with its latest release – the Pebble Steel, it has claimed the top spot in the most functional wearable devices. It is affordable too. With less than $300, an enthusiast has the opportunity to own one of these devices.
The Pebble Steel connects to a majority of mobile devices. If a device runs off Android or iOS, it can work together with the Pebble Steel. It is only a matter of time, before the device gets connectivity to devices that run off Blackberry and Windows.
The Pebble devices look like conventional watches, but are more ergonomic and lighter than their competitors – for example, the Samsung Gear are. The latest Pebble Steel contains an ARM Cortex processor capable of 80MHz, a 1MB internal memory, an 8MB RAM and connects to other devices via Bluetooth.
However, the Pebble Steel devices still do not feature touch screens. Nevertheless, they still manage to present notifications and messages from other connected devices in a simple and stylish manner. To their credit, the Pebble devices are waterproof too. Therefore, wearers have the capability to use them no matter the prevailing weather or environment.
This wearable device proves that you can actually do recommended activities at the same time. While doing one usually leads to the neglect of the other, the Run-n-Read allows you to exercise and read at the same time.
Like the Pebble wearable devices, this device is a result of a crowd-funded project. The Run-n-Read is small. A wearer has to clip it to her clothing (tee shirt, wrist, or headband) and connects it to a corresponding application in her Android or iOS device. While the user runs (which, means that she will be bouncing up and down on a treadmill), the device will make the content on the Android or iOS device bounce in accord. As a result, the text on the connected device will always seem static to the ‘running’ user, while in fact, it bounces up and down to a stationery onlooker.
The user wearing the Run-n-Read can flip through the connected devices’ content by simply tapping the wearable. Consequently, a wearer saves time by performing two tasks at the same time. Add that to the simplicity of the Run-n-Read, and it is evident that this device is a top contender for the wearable that provides the most convenience.
3. Epson’s Moverio Smart Glasses
The Moverio Smart Glasses are an alternative to Google Glass. While Google’s Glass remains in development stage – thus is expensive and is on offer to developers for testing purposes, Epson offers the Moverio Glass to the market with nearly the same functionality as the Google Glass.
The latest Moverio Glass – BT-200, runs off Android. Its capabilities include the display of images in a 960 x 540 resolution, capability to render 3D, high definition Dolby Digital surround sound and sensors that note the movements of the wearer’s head.
The Moverio Smart Glass can take pictures using their front-facing cameras. They also have an LED indicator. They store their content on an installed microSD card. They then share this content with other devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The Glasses have a touchpad that runs on their side to provide a wearer with the capability to manipulate content.
Like its counterpart, the latest Moverio Glasses are still expensive – going for around $700. They are also uncomfortable to wear for users who already wear prescription glasses. When viewing images, the Glasses have a tendency to create blur, due to loss of focus.
4. Nymi Wristband
For less than $80, a tech-wearables enthusiast can acquire this wristband from the developer – a Canadian startup, Bionym. The Nymi wristband is a bio-authentication device, with the capability to act in place of a password or a key in the future.
The Nymi wristband is Bionym’s direct challenge to the conventional bio-authentication methods, fingerprint scanners, eye, and facial recognition devices. The startup cites the fact that the systems, which use the wristband for authentication, do not have to ask the user to identify herself, every time she tries to gain access. This is because the wristband electrocardiogram sensors to know auser’s unique heart wave.
The wristband communicates with devices running off Android or iOS via Bluetooth, to transmit details of the wearer. To create a heart wave print on the device, a user connects sensors on the top and bottom of the device with the free hand.
5. Fitbit Force
The Fitbit Force is another tech-wristband. While the Nymi wristband targets security applications, the Fitbit Force targets monitoring the wearer’s movement parameters, and is therefore a good fit for health and fitness regimes. It is affordable enough, as it goes for less than $130.
While other fitness tracking wearables, like the Nike + Fuelband and Basis Carbon Steel offer the same functionalities, the Fitbit force stands out due to its affordability and high-resolution display. The Fitbit force can monitor the wearer’s steps, distance covered, and calories expended. The wristband then shares this data with a corresponding app (via Bluetooth), which also uploads this data to the wearer’s Internet account.
Wearable technology has been a constrained tech field for a long time. The only break in wearable technology was during the calculator-watches of the late 1980’s. However, recent developments point to a development of technology towards the more personal and more wearable devices.