Tag: wearables

Wearables might be ready to take off

watch will i amBeancounters at CCS Insight have been shuffling their tarot cards and reached the conclusion that wearables will be the next big thing.

Distributors have been striking up relationships with some of the leading names in the wearables market as they look to ensure they have the right products when everything kicks off,

Tech Data has signed up Jawbone and the option to carry Microsoft’s Band 2 device this year and is apparently coming up with huge opportunities and case studies,  Exertis has added wearables and smart technology to its range as it positions itself for a future that involves more health and fitness trackers.

Now CCS Insight has just launched its UK forecast for smart wearble devices estimating that by the end of this year there will be around 10 million devices being used in this country.

That number is expected to triple over the next four years to 33m units with fitness trackers tacking a large chunk of that growth.

Smartphone companions will form the biggest part of the market in terms of value with that segment being worth £300 million this year on shipments of 1.5 million.

George Jijiashvili, analyst for wearables at CCS said that advances in design and affordability mean that this year wearables have become devices that ordinary people actually want to wear.

“Consumers in the UK have adopted wearable technology enthusiastically, particularly fitness trackers, which are becoming an increasingly commonplace accessory on people’s wrists,” said

There are also expectations that there will be growth in virtual reality products and wearable cameras, particularly 360 degree cameras.

“All eyes are on virtual reality given it’s one of the hottest new technology areas to emerge this year. There’s going to be a deluge of exciting 360-degree content widely available on Facebook and YouTube, and we’re confident consumers will be keen to try it. The arrival of several 360-degree cameras during 2016 will further fuel the explosion of what we’re calling surroundies,” he said.

Salesforce strengthens hold on wearables

Salesforce logoAccounting software outfit Salesforce has made another move into wearable computers by giving cash to APX Labs.

APX makes software for wearables used at work and Salesforce has made investment through its venture capital arm, SalesForce Ventures.

According to a Washington Business Journal report, “APX Labs has raised another $10 million in venture capital, a round that includes new investors SalesForce Ventures and SineWave Ventures”. However, it is still not clear how much each company has invested.

APX Labs’ wearable tech software is mostly used in heavy industries like energy, telecommunications, automotive and aerospace. The app is believed to improve the entire workflow of the companies with its various features like, contract approval and sending email with just a tap.

Salesforce has always encouraged wearable devices. So by investing in APX Labs, the company is trying to strengthen its position in the wearable tech software space.

Over the past few years, Salesforce made several investments in startup businesses either through acquisitions or partnership arrangements. The most recent one was the buyout of smart calendar app, Tempo, from Tempo AI.

Salesforce will use Tempo’s technology or its engineering talent to develop new products or improvise on the existing ones.

 

Intel promises “things” will get even smaller

tiny chipzillaChipzilla has promised that the gear which comes out under its “internet of things” plans will be getting a lot smaller soon.

So far, Intel’s SD card-sized Edison have been mainly adopted by enthusiasts which is normally the kiss of death for manufacturers who want mass sales. However with the next generation,, Intel said that it is considering a different approach to make Curie and its components accessible to a wider audience.

One idea is to sell a prebuilt “board” resembling a button with the Curie chip, wireless circuitry, sensors and expansion ports on it.

Mike Bell, corporate vice president and general manager at Intel’s New Devices Group, told PC World  that Intel’s larger wearable computers like the SD card-sized Edison were mainly adopted by enthusiasts.

“You hook up a battery, you hook up some wires, and you have something you can build a product out of,” Bell said.

Another idea is to have a smaller multi-chip package with just the Curie processor, radio and other basic circuitry. It’ll be small and come without the board, and will be ready to implement in wearable devices.

It will be quicker to implement, and should give device makers more flexibility in size when designing wearables.

What is strange however is that Intel has had more success putting its software, called IQs by Intel, in wearables more than its chips. It is seems that this sort of app-like approach is going down well with those who want to build wearables. That software only approach might give Intel a leg-up with Curie. Curie has a low-power Quark chip, Bluetooth wireless capabilities and a sensor hub to track activities like steps. It also has a pattern recognition engine, and software packages are key to analysing collected data.

The health software package will use the pattern recognition engine to analyse steps and other health data. Intel’s idea is turn the whole lot into a data analysis machine.

Fashion companies don’t have time to think about technology, and the software packages make implementing Curie into wearables easy, Bell said.

Intel’s main challenge is ARM and MIPS, whose processors are used in most wearables today.
Chipzilla has technology for smartwatches – it has been trying to peddle its Basis Peak idea mostly through partners. It is already in the market – in a fairly low key way. Intel’s technology is already in SMS Audio’s BioSport earphones and Opening Ceremony’s MICA smart bracelet. Intel has also partnered with eyewear companies Luxottica and Oakley and watch company Fossil Group.

 

2015 brings is crunch time for smart watches

Swiss Watches the BrandApple releases its watches this year and that’s led CCS Insight to propose that this year is make or break time for the relatively new category.

It estimates that shipments of wearables will reach 75 million in 2015, a 158 percent increase compared to last year.

And the Apple watch will account for over a quarter of wearables that ship this year, it believes.

Analysts at the company believe that Apple will sell about 20 million watches by the end of this year. But if Apple is wrong – and the jury is still very much out on the future of such devices, it’s likely to hurt the entire wearables category of technology.

Right now, it’s fitness bands that are driving growth with products from companies like Fitbit and Jawbone.

It thinks that sales of these devices will double in 2015 to 40 million units.

It also says action cameras was the second biggest category in 2014, with six million of them selling in 2014.

 

Google toys with Glass again

glassesAfter an ignominious end to the much hyped Google Glasses, it appears the company hasn’t abandoned the whole effort.
According to a feature in the New York Times, a jewellery designer and a former Apple product executive are working at Google to redesign the thing from scratch.
Ivy Ross apparently runs Google’s “smart eyewear division” while Tony Fadell who created Nest are going back to the Glass drawing board.
Fadell told the NY Times that early Glass experiments had “broken ground” and he and Ivy are learning the dismal lessons of the past by redesigning the things from scratch and not releasing product until it is ready.
Diane von Furstenberg wore a red pair of Google Glasses at a fashion show in 2012, while models on the catwalk wore different coloured ones.
She told the NY Times that Google Glass was the first time people talked about wearable technology.
Actually, as a matter of fact, it’s not.  In the early 90s Dutch firm Philips talked about putting a computer in a tie while later that decade the CEO of IBM told an audience at the Comdex trade show that we’d soon be wearing shoes with computers inside them.

 

Apple iWatch runs out of time

fobwatchA report claimed that Apple watches, which will launch in the first half of this year, will only have battery lives of about three and a half hours.
According to 9to5Mac, it has spoken to people familiar with the product who said the chip and the screen will drag its battery life down to a minimum.
Once the watch runs down, you’ll have to find a power socket to recharge it.
The magazine said that Apple decided to use an S1 chip and a top notch screen for the watch, resulting in “significant” power drain.
Apple watches are already in production in the Far East.
9to5mac claimed that Apple wanted to launch the watch last year, but worries over the battery life meant it decided to wait.
Prices for the watch are expected to start at around $350.

 

Tablet users to exceed one billion

tesco-hudl-tabletA report claimed that over a billion people in the world will use a tablet this year – that’s 15 percent of the world’s population.
eMarketer said that by 2018, 1.43 billion worldwide will use tablets but that doesn’t mean that sales of tablets will increase exponentially.
While the number of tablet users will increase by just over 17 percent in 2015, eMarketer says that growth was 53.1 percent in 2013 and 29.1 percent in  2014.
In 2018 the growth figure will be just under eight percent, and there are a few reasons for that, the study suggests.
One is that tablets are seen as luxury items, and they are facing competition from ever larger smartphones and other devices.  The last reason eMarketer gives is that the use of tablets is not always that clear.
By 2018, Chinese tablets will be used by around 435.5 million people, USA people will account for 172.6 million, India for 60.2 million people and the UK for 38.4 million people.
The survey predicts that Indonesia will enter the top five in 2016, and by 2018 nearly a fifth of the world’s population will be tablet users.

 

Apple iWatch to arrive in March

two-applesA report said that Apple will start selling its much hyped iWatch in March.
That’s according to 9to5mac, which said the wearable gizmo will first be trialled in Apple stores in the USA – with training for staff slated for mid February.
The site said that Apple has been improving battery life on the product and intensively testing it.
But sources in Taiwan late last year said that there had been delays in producing the device as quickly as people would have liked.
And 9to5mac said that there could still be delays in developing software and in manufacturing the rather expensive machine.
The iWatch is set to be released in three versions, with the standard metal and glass model costing around $350.
No one is entirely sure whether the wearable market will ever take off.  Many young people don’t bother with watches in the West anymore, relying on their smartphone to tell them the time.

 

Smart wearables will be invisible

glassesThe Gartner Group has studied the tea leaves at the bottom of its tea cup and come up with some predictions on the future of wearable devices.

The market research company predicts that by 2017, a third of so-called “smart wearables” will be practically invisible.

Gartner said smart contact lenses are already being developed, and there’s some interesting projects creating smart jewellery.  Why would you need smart jewellery?  They could deliver comms alerts and emergency alarms, according to Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner.

These will be in contrast to smart glasses, which are pretty easy to spot.

And we’ll also see the proliferation of head mounted displays (HMDs) for virtual reality but they’ll have to be not only smart, but smart looking.

Gartner also predicts that by 2016, 40 percent of smartphones will include biometric sensors with such features as fingerprint, facial, iris, voice and palm vein authentication.

And Gartner sees the end of Windows.  It estimates that in 2017. a third of people in emerging markets will never have owned a Windows device.

Sony makes electronic bow tie

Don Ameche and his famous bow tieJapanese electronics giant Sony is toying with making watches and bow ties using e-paper.

The watch, called the FES (Fashion Entertainments)  Watch, has 24 design patterns, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal.  You can switch between the designs by using different gestures.

Sony apparently wants to make electronic paper a new kind of fabric.

Products may well be available as soon as May next year, the Journal said.

The fashion in the tech business is wearables, and a whole host of vendors is trying to hype up the concept – from Apple to Google.

There’s no indication as yet of how much your e-paper bow tie or e-paper watch will cost.

Fitness spurs sensor market

fitnessWith a flood of gadgets aimed at people who like to be fit as well as machines used by medicos, shipment of the sensors used in the devices is set to increase sevenfold from 2013 to 2019.

The types of sensors used in these devices can be broken down into motion sensors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and sensor for health, environment and user interfaces, according to IHS.

But out of these categories, motion sensors will be the dominant technology and under this umbrella are accelerometers, gyroscopes, proximity sensors and MEMS displays.

The top dog in the sensor market is ST Microelectronics – it sells sensors as bundles along with microprocessors and wirless chips.

IHS said that the worldwide market for sensors in wearables will reach 466 million units in 2019, up from 67 million in 2013.

Android faces smartwatch challenge

fobwatchNo one is entirely sure how succcessful smartwaches can be and the jury is still out on the matter.

But market research company ABI Research believes that after Apple releases its smartwatch in 2015, Android will face a real challenge.

ABI predicts that Android’s market share for smartwatches will drop below 50 percent, while iOS is likely to take 50 percent of the market.

The market for such devices is still quite small – Thomas McCourtie, an analyst at ABI said that by the end of this year there will be six million Android wearable devices shipped and that will rise to 15 million in 2015.

applepieHe said: “Judging by the previous sales performance of newly released Apple products, we anticipate a high number of sales of the Apple watch upon its initial release. The high number of loyal and affluent multiple Apple device owners alone will drive significant number of sales.”

This pie chart shows what he believes will be the market share in the wearable market next year.

Intel thinks wearables will save its bacon

Brian KrzanichThe CEO of ailing chip company Intel has expressed the view that now the PC is at the end of the road, if it brings wearable technology out of its capacious hat it will be saved.

Brian Krzanich, the newly fledged CEO of Intel, told Recode.net that it would show off some technology at next week’s CES show in Lost Wages that would have people spinning in the aisles.

As well as showing off some wearable stuff, Intel will also tell the world about more Quark chips which are likely to wheedle their way into wearable gadgets, and, who knows, even end up in intelligent toothbrushes or condoms.

Krzanich acknowledged in the interview that Intel was identified as the PC company over the last 20 years and said the battle was worth fighting and winning. “But the market moved.”

What he means, of course, is that the market moved but Intel forgot to move so got overtaken by a heap of tablets and smartphones far divorced from X86 technology.

Krzanich doesn’t recognise that it has lost the smartphone and tablet market and claims Intel chips will be in 40 million tablets sold in 2014.

The chips won’t even be made in Intel fabs, he told Remote.net.