The thing about covering tech trends is that if you go early, you go early. It’s a lot quicker to type “seriously smart earbuds are coming” (when they are) than to build a hearable, for instance.
So, all of the big trends we saw at this year’s CES are ones we’ve been writing about for three or six or twelve months. But that doesn’t make it less interesting that shit is getting real in VR headsets, GPS sports smartwatches or smart home voice interaction.
In business speak, the market is maturing and that means less wacky ideas (boo) but more affordable, realistic products we’ll actually be able to buy in six months.
At the end of last year, we published our annual Wareable 50 list of gamechangers: the hottest products, trends, people and companies for 2017. So at (3) we have designer hybrids, at (12) untethered VR, at (34) ID wristbands. You get the picture, we know the future. Here are a few of the wearable tech predictions confirmed and strengthened at CES 2017.
Amazon seems to have won smart home
At least in terms of products that include its Alexa voice assistant or hook up to the Amazon Echo in some way: Alexa-friendly speakers, fridges, robot vacs, kitchen radios all featured at CES as we noted in this week’s #Trending.
Does this mean Alexa will become the default smart home software as people start to buy these devices? Time will tell but we really wouldn’t count out Apple Home considering the number of iPhones that Apple shifts.
Android Wear isn’t dead
To be fair, despite Android Wear 2.0 earning the coveted (8) spot in our Wareable 50, we were amongst those getting truly fed up with Android Wear at the end of 2016. But here we are, post the main CES announcements and we have the long-awaited New Balance RunIQ as well as a Casio Android Wear WSD-F20 watch that actually has GPS this time.
Read this: The best wearable tech out of CES 2017
One niggle – Fossil-owned Misfit went with its own OS for the new Vapor watch. Could Fossil be looking outside Android Wear for the smartwatch segment of its 300 new wearables this year?
Screen vs watch face rages on
Fossil, of course, has launched some new designer hybrid smartwatches including the Armani Exchange Connected, Fossil Q Accomplice and Skagen’s Jorn and Hald styles. These smart analogue devices will be sold alongside dumb watches though we don’t have much data on how well they’re doing just yet and Fossil doesn’t seem to want to update that basic fitness ‘n’ vibes feature set anytime soon.
Then again, the aforementioned Misfit Vapor is that brand’s first smartwatch with a screen and it was actually quite a big CES for smartwatches with digital screens what with the Android Wear launches mentioned above, Garmin and Suunto. So the question remains – are screens on our wrists here to stay?
We’re still – somehow – at the connect everything stage
When that Withings smart hairbrush popped into our inboxes, the question arose of if we’re at peak connected self. How naive I’m sure we will sound to our 2018 selves.
But the bigger lesson for the year, we suppose, is that wearable tech isn’t just smartwatches. And maybe sluggish sales for everything but the Apple Watch will convince tech brands to go outside their comfort zone and embrace form factors without screens, that will get us to where we need to go in terms of ambient computing.
CES saw quite a few hearable launches – Nuheara, Bodytrak – as well as a new smart ring from Motiv, a sports shirt from Polar, smart socks from Sensoria and smart running shoes from Under Armour. We’re all for all of that, so long as it’s not putting Bluetooth or Wi-Fi into something for no reason. I see you, connected cane.
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