Competitors Gear Up In Anticipation Of Apple Watch Release

Days before the long-anticipated official release of Apple Watch, several brands are announcing their own major releases all hoping to capitalize on the forthcoming public attention and legitimacy that Apple may bring to the market, including:

Equipped with a new color e-paper screen, a 7-day-long battery life, and a new timeline-based interface, Pebble’s new Time smartwatch has become the most funded project in Kickstarter history in just one week, with a whopping $16 million in pre-orders so far.

One of the highlights of Mobile World Congress has been a well-received minimalist smartwatch from little-known Chinese manufacturer Huawei. Billed as its first play for the western markets yet, the Huawei Watch is backed by Android Wear OS.

Trying to recapture the attention of mobile phone consumers, Motorola announced earlier this week that a new version of its Moto Maker, the consumer-facing customization tool for Moto X, will be soon adapted to offer more personalization options for its smartwatch Moto 360.(Update: the customization site is now live.)

How will the Apple Watch stack up to all these eager competitors? Follow the Lab on Monday as we live tweet the event, followed by end-of-day recaps and implications for brands.

Header image taken from Huawei Watch’s official webpage

Everything We Know About Apple Watch So Far

We are just four days away from Apple’s “Spring Forward” media event on Monday, March 9th, and all sources are indicating that it will be an opportunity for Apple to drum up momentum as the official release of the Apple Watch approaches.

Since the first announcement last September, we’ve learned about the WatchKit SDK, and a leaked companion mobile app, but everyone’s anxious to learn more. Some major highlights teased by Tim Cook in recent interviews include:

  • Fitness Tracking In addition to the now-confirmed bundled Workout and Activity apps, which allow users to custom program exercise routines and measure fitness statistics, third-party apps are also being allowed.
  • Hotels Apps will allow you to check-in to your hotel and even unlock your room at “some of the best hotels in the world.”
  • Business Applications Cook hinted that Salesforce, a long-time partner, is developing software.
  • Mobile Payment Continuing its Apple Pay push, Cook noted that Panera Bread is working on a payment app.

How many of these will be proven true? Follow the Lab’s live tweeting @ipglab or catch our recap after the event.


Header image taken from Apple Watch’s official webpage

Event Recap: Digital Intimacy Panel And A Look At The Fashion+Design Accelerator

Last week, Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion+Design Accelerator held a panel on the latest in wearables and digital intimacy. It focused on the changing landscape in both fashion and technology, and the fact that soon, the two will be indistinguishable.

The panel included some of the fashion tech industry’s most prominent futurists, including founders of Makerbot, Wearable Experiments, and others, discussing the need for proactive thinking and experimentation as technology becomes more intimate than ever. For Paul Amitai of digital fashion imprint Eyebeam, wearables go beyond data: “The material will become the technology itself.” In response, Billie Whitehouse, founder of Wearable Experiments brought up “ingestibles,” implying that we will become the technology.

Privacy was another important theme of the evening. “What happens when everything is transparent?” Makerbot founder Bre Pettis wondered. “The loss of privacy just hasn’t hit at scale.” Pettis thought privacy long gone, but not necessarily in a bad way: if transparency can temper abuses of power, maybe it’s worthwhile. Evan Lazarus of Paxie, a child-tracking wearable, tried to recontextualize privacy, while Whitehouse spoke of a need for a bubble of private data — such as biometric data — that couldn’t be utilized in public or commercial spheres. The Internet of Things needs to be an extension of human empathy, rather than simply computer intelligence.

The event was part of an exhibition called “Cloud Couture,” featuring companies that are pushing the boundaries of sustainable and technological design. Examples included 3D-printed dresses, a shirt that vibrates in response to the bass frequencies of EDM music, environmentally-friendly waterless dye, a sweater that changes color based on emotional feedback.

Trigger + Michelle Cortese – LogMe

What if your necklace could detect and record your moods like an emotional journal? That’s the idea behind LogMe, a sentient-recognizing smart necklace designed by Michelle Cortese, the Lab’s very own interaction designer. Watch this trigger + to see our interview with her on the design and application of LogMe, as well as the reactions it has received so far.

Look Out For The Swatch Smartwatches

Read original story on: The Verge

Fashion watch-maker Swatch is planning to sell its own smartwatch within the next 3 months, which would put it in direct competition with the upcoming Apple Watch. The company claims their first wearable will support Windows and Android systems, communicate via Internet connection, and have mobile payment functions, all without “having to be charged”.

While that may sound a little too good to be true, it has definitely got us intrigued to learn more about it. Battery life has been a long-standing problem for wearables, and if Swatch has found a way to fix this issue, it might just have a real shot at taking a piece of the burgeoning wearable market.

CES 2015: Sony Ups Its Wearable Game

Read original story on: PC World

Yesterday at its CES press event, Sony unveiled its plan to rev up its wearables game with updates to a few existing products, including a slickly redesigned, Android Wear-powered SmartWatch 3, along with a Lifelog web client and API launch. Moreover, the company also introduced a new Smarteyeglass SDK, which may finally bring some competition to the stagnant Google Glass.

CES 2015: Strap On A Wearable And Join The Party

Although officially it’s only the second day of CES 2015, numerous new wearable devices have already been unveiled, packed with various new tricks, eagerly waiting to be worn. Here’s our top five pick on wearables so far:

  1. Russian company Healbe claims that its GoBe wristband (upper right corner) can track the calories you’re consuming each day, simply by resting on your skin and monitoring the sugar level of your cells.
  2. Gymwatch introduces a synonymous fitness wearable (lower right corner) that’s designed to track not only how many exercises you’ve done, but also if you’ve done any of them properly.  It can measure the workout performance of more than 900 exercises, so no slacking off here.
  3. Misfit debuts the elegantly designed new “Swarovski Shine” wearables collection (upper middle) featuring crystal jewelry, while also adding solar charging to prop up the blings, making it the first among known fitness trackers to do so.
  4. Chinese manufacturer Lenovo finally enters the smart fitness band market with its water-resistant Vibe Band VB10 (lower left and middle). Featuring a retro e-ink display, it boasts a long battery life and a low price tag— starting at only $89.
  5. The Ring is a futuristic Bluetooth-enabled gesture control wearable. It works with works via an app, which assigns simple finger gestures to perform tasks on your smartphone. An upcoming hub will also reportedly control connected home appliances.

Bonus and potential TechWreck: Belty, the smart belt that measures your waistline and alerts you when you are getting fat.

Best Of The Lab 2014: The Two New Media Platforms

 The past year has witnessed the rise of several new media platforms, with connected car and wearables as the top two standouts that we expect to shine even brighter in the coming year. Head over to our auto trend report to learn the full potential of connected cars, then cap it off with our coverage of the crazy fun Minuum keyboard for smart watches.

Outlook 2014: Automotive Trends

Now You Can Text On A Smartwatch, If You Want To

Thus concludes our Best of 2014 reviews. Happy Holidays! We’ll see you again soon with our upcoming CES coverage in 2 weeks.


CES 2015 Preview: Nine Areas To Watch

With less than a month to go before CES 2015, rumors are starting to swirl about what products will be shown and which will be this year’s standouts. We’ve started sifting through coverage and will be paying particular attention to the following areas when we attend next month:
  1. Automotive. This is the year the car finally takes over CES. With a record 11 manufacturers present, the convention will feature keynotes from Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche and Ford CEO Mark Fields. Everyone’s talking about a new concept car — an autonomous “mobile living room.” Meanwhile, Audi will also announce two “world debuts.” Watch for press events from Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Toyota, and more.
  2. Smart Home. The automated home will have its own marketplace at the Sands, though the entire city will seemingly be dedicated to Smart Home: expect large presentations from Belkin and Philips, and dozens upon dozens of home automation products — including iDevices’ first-ever Homekit-enabled device.
  3. Wearables. LG will reportedly release its successor to the G Watch, which could also incorporate 4G. Breaking into the market for the first time, HTC will debut a not-smartwatch wearable, but no details are out yet; it’s potentially something in the line of a fitness band. Lenovo has a watch on the docket, but we are holding our breath for the not-gonna-be-at-CES Apple Watch.
  4. Smart Garments. Technically a division within “wearables,” but expect the connected clothing market to get interesting, with shirts, jackets, sports bras, and even socks delivering fitness data with embedded sensors.
  5. 3D Printers. Doubling in size from 2014, the dedicated 3D Printing Marketplace will feature over 30 exhibitors stretching over 14,000 square feet. Watch the space for big moves from players like Makerbot and Autodesk, and expect that the crowd-pleasers will host interactive demonstrations just like last year.
  6. Phones. There are many rumors about Xiaomi debuting a Mi5 smartphone as it tries to take on the American market. Expect to hear buzz on LG’s flexible G Flex 2. No Samsung Galaxy S6 this year.
  7. Virtual Reality. With Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus from Sony, and Samsung Gear VR, the augmented reality space is (finally! Really, this time!) set to erupt. Expect to see VR-themed games, apps, and more interesting experiences.
  8. Drones. Expect to see dozens of flying cameras in the dedicated Unmanned Systems Marketplace. GoPro will even debut their own.
  9. Big Shiny Televisions. Finally, the big screens: joining the rapidly expanding, horribly expensive pack of 4K TVs may be LG’s 55-inch 8K display. Codenamed “Mabinogion,” it will have a resolution of 7680×4320 pixels. 

Keep watching as we continue to cover CES 2015.


How Wearables Can Help The Health Insurance Industry

Read original story on: Gizmodo

This week, Oscar Insurance launched a new program: the company is giving away Misfit fitness trackers in hope of motivating its clients to exercise more and stay healthy. If users reach a daily step count determined by their current health stats, they get $1 credit, which they can later use on Amazon gift cards. As the health insurance starts focusing on preventative health, this seems like a great win-win solution.