Smart Clothing in the world of sports – Growing up, fast

We need only look to the recent Commonwealth games to see how the right choice of advanced fabrics and sportswear can hand a team an edge. We talk, of course, of the so-called skinsuits. Developed in the lab, these suits started life as 3D printouts of each sports person’s body, this was then used to rigorously test and retest aerodynamics. Eventually this led to a custom made, optimally aerodynamic suit for each team member.

For time immemorial sportsmen and women have relied on technology, from training to what they wear on the track, to get an edge. And compared to the tomorrow of smart clothing technology, today’s skinsuits could pale into insignificance. Let’s look at just where we could be heading…

Smart Fabrics, Smart Clothing and E-textiles – Babies with Bright Futures

Right now, smart sportswear is in infancy, yet leaps and bounds are being made – including the embroidering of circuits into fabric, the development of printable, transparent sensors and smart fabrics that regulate body temperature, reduce wind resistance and control muscle vibration. And it’s not just the sporting world being shaped by smart wear – as space travel and even health and beauty are being led by clothing that could one day protect against radiation, release drugs, slow aging and even make you smell nice!

“What makes smart fabrics revolutionary is that they have the ability to do many things that traditional fabrics cannot, including communicate, transform, conduct energy and even grow”.

–       Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman – Associate Professor at the Pratt Institute, and author and researcher on smart textiles and wearable technologies      

From Firefighting to Healing Wounds?

US-based company Globe are showing the world how it’s done when it comes to smart clothing in extreme environments. Their technology is already demonstrating what it can do in the line of duty – both as a soldier and a firefighter – tracking heart rate, core body temperature, respiration rate, posture and many other elements – all of which offers situational awareness (which is also a key ingredient for improving athletic performance).

“In the health sector, wound management costs the NHS in Wales around 6% of its budget. With the smart technology available to us, it will be possible to reduce the cost of treatment significantly and enable wounds to heal faster”.

–       Chris Hunt, Leader of the Electronic Interconnect team at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL)

Moving onwards and upwards: The tomorrow of smart sportswear

Smart sports clothing is amongst the most advanced realms of wearables when it comes to mainstream adoption. Now, we must look beyond smart trainers and sweat resistant clothing, onto brave advancements in biometrics and the monitoring of fitness levels. One company doing just that is UK Smartlife – a primarily medical based company, with tech that’s promising wide-ranging progress in the world of sports.

“When we were founded, our focus was on making garments that could be used in medical trials,” explains Martin Ashby, the company’s COO. “We wanted to be able to monitor patient’s vital signs in a normal environment to better understand how the drugs they were testing were working, as well as save time and cut the expense of having to use laboratories”.

–       Martin Ashby, UK Smartlife COO

In a backward situation to that of UK Smartlife, is another company – Sensoria. Their smart socks, which are infused with sensors that monitor foot pressure, were developed for the sports world. They’ve since discovered that their product could ultimately lead to monitoring elderly patients who may be at risk of falling.

“Demand for smart textiles is being driven by users not wanting to have to wear more devices. Most people, we believe, will be willing and open to wearing biometric sensing garments”.

–       Davide Vigano – Founder and CEO of Sensoria

It seems the future of smart sportswear isn’t only the stuff of medal dreams, but is in fact a technology that could influence a previously underestimated number of industries. The potential could mean much, for the old, the young, the professional sports person and the novice.

Apparel in store

With this (smart) ring, I thee wed

Here comes the bride – she’s wearing a classic veil, a timeless off-the-shoulder Alexander McQueen gown and… smart technology? Could it be that today’s bride is set for a technological makeover?

A Smart Wedding Ring – For Signalling Commitment for Eternity and… Paying for Dinner?

Launching at CES 2017 – the world’s greatest tech show, was Tappy – proprietary technology that can be used by designers of timepieces and jewellery. Showcased in the form of a wedding ring, Tappy was demoed as the ultimate wireless payment – made simply by placing the ring finger close to the terminal.

So, will consumers be putting a ring on it?

Here’s the thing – no one can deny the heritage of the Tappy brand name – for this Hong Kong brand is one that has been right there, as contactless payment has developed. Today, their thumbs are firmly in many digital pies – from providing wearable technology in timepiece and jewellery brands, to data analytics services, to developing a Tappy Wallet App.

The trouble with Tappy, at least for now, is that it can’t be used within jewellery crafted from metal (the metal would interfere with the wireless payment technology). Tappy also has a price point of $100 – so we can’t see it budging out the baguette diamond ring just yet.

A clever marketing move, rather than a lifelong commitment? Perhaps.

But Then Again, Smart Rings Aren’t All About the Money

Positioning themselves alongside Tappy, even if it’s not aiming for the wedding aisle or wireless payments market, is the Motiv Ring – an app-linked sleep and activity tracker that is the self-proclaimed “Fitbit for fingers”. Unlike Tappy, the Motiv Ring launched to rave reviews.

PC Mag lauded it as…

“stand(ing) out from the pack with continuous heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, three days of battery life, and a waterproof build. Plus its elegantly discreet design is comfortable enough for all-day wear”.

While the Financial Times went with it being…

“all too rare that I come across something that seems to be a real engineering achievement. Motiv, a new fitness tracker, is just that: a real feat of miniaturisation”.

So, What’s The Next Step for Fitness Ring Wearables?

Sleep and activity is only half the story when it comes to health and fitness – after all, our health relies just as much, if not more so, on what’s being put into the body, as it does on exercise. So what’s happening in this tech realm? Well, over the pond in the US, the Amazon Dash Wand is allowing for the scanning of low stock items in the home, to be ordered on Amazon Fresh, while the Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator features all sorts of apps, and has a camera in the fridge (for peeking at your dinner from your smartphone). Other smart kitchen tech includes remote controlled slow cookers, smart bins that order what you’ve just chucked out, and even a $1500 smart decanter, which promises to cut years from the time needed to mature a wine.

Yet despite all of this, we’re still forced to trek through FitBit food plans (manual entry? Urgh!). The appetite is more than there for an affordable wearable-to-kitchen tech solution. Given the obesity epidemic, society is hungry for digital help in the cupboards and on the sports field – which would be great news for life beyond the wedding diet, if we’re to combat that ‘happily married’ expanding waistline.

Smart rings in store

 

Smart glasses – Can we see them in our future?

Google Glass launched amid frenzy, fanfare and, it must be said, a fair share of ridicule. It was an idea as applauded as it was mocked. While there were many stumbling blocks, including privacy issues, bugginess and compromised driving safety, hope remained that the most innovative company in the world would eventually reign victorious.  

Then, on the 15th January 2015, Google announced it would halt all production of the product.

Really?! This is the company dead set on overcoming death (seriously, read all about it). And yet they couldn’t even turn our dreams of Mission: Impossible-style eyewear into reality. Disappointing, to say the least.

So, surely if the most revered tech brand in the world had consigned their smart eyewear to the tech dustbin, others should follow suit? Hmm. Not quite. This space is hustling and bustling, yet a lot of it is hush hush. Here we take a long, hard look at some of the biggest names rumoured to be entering this as yet unrealised market.

Google Glass – Back from The Grave?

Bittersweet news – Google Glass 2.0 is alive and well, and yet it’s a barely recognisable reincarnation of Glass v1. Aimed at enterprises, this workplace-based version is already on the factory floor. Known officially as the Glass Enterprise Edition, it launched in the middle of last summer.

While it appears there could be a firm future for Glass Enterprise (a recent Forrester Research report that nearly 14.4 million US workers will wear smart glasses by 2025), it’s just not as exciting as fashion week, nor what we initially envisioned when Google Glass originally launched.

However, just as Google has lost focus on the consumer, more than enough players have set their sights on them – such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung and even Facebook. Let’s round up these fresh-faced contenders to predict the future of smart eyewear…

Apple

Since the departure of the late, great Steve Jobs, Apple have had somewhat of a tough time of it. Release after release seems to have fallen flat, especially in comparison to the golden years of the first iPhones and iPads. So, what about their efforts when it come to smart eyewear?

Apple have been linked to Catcher Technology – a firm that creates lightweight frames for augmented reality tech. While there’s been no official statement, the rumour mills turn about Apple’s leap into smart eyewear come 2019/2020.

If sources are to be believed, we’ll be set for a device more like traditional glasses, rather than virtual reality headsets or visors. Given the brand’s focus on making the Apple Watch work, perhaps they may pick up where Google Glasses left off.

Amazon

Amazon have hit a homerun when it comes to their Amazon Echo, claiming 68% of the smart speaker market, impressive stuff. Now the word on the Silicon Valley Street is that Amazon will harness Alexa in smart glasses, working alongside bone conduction technology – a tantalising new direction for this ream, if true.

Microsoft

Introducing the Microsoft HoloLens – a holographic, augmented reality headset. While this isn’t new news by any means (it was announced in 2015 at the Windows 10 Event), AND it’s less a pair a glasses, more a full-blown headset, there’s no doubting the breath-taking tech under the hood, and Microsoft are promising that this will eventually deliver those sci-fi visions of augmented/virtual reality right in the heart of the consumer’s home.

Samsung

Very little is known about Samsung’s foray into this field, asides from the fact that they’ve just trademarked a logo which has been linked to “computerized vision-assisting eyewear”.

We’ll wait with baited breath, but we’ll probably need to be patient, as Samsung have smart glass patents dating ALLLL the way back to 2014.

Facebook

Facebook have been more than open about their big plans, when it comes to augmented reality. In fact, they’ve laid out a ten-year vision, which ultimately leads to smart glasses that create a mixed-reality world. Unlike most other brands however, they’ve released images of what they’re developing, and Zuckerberg himself says that when they finally arrive in post-prototype version, it won’t “look like goggles or big headsets, but instead… just… like normal glasses”.

Smart Glasses for The Here and Now

Truly mainstream smart glasses may be a while away, despite many innovative players and ideas. For now however, there are smart glasses already in action – such as Solos (smart glasses for cyclists); Vuzix Blade AR (an Alexa-loaded, consumer/enterprise glass hybrid); Epson Moverio BT-300 (a business-focused offering that’s currently exploring the fitness market) and Lockdown Focus (glasses designed to analyse and improve your performance when under pressure).

How smart glasses will play out is anything but clear. Whilst we’re still stinging that Google Glass never delivered on all its intoxicating promises, looking to the patents and plans of the current companies in the game means that there’s plenty to get excited about.

Headgear in store

2018: Our Wearable Predictions

OK, so we’re a little late to the party. What can we say, 2017 was a vintage year to raise a toast to all things wearable. Question is, will 2018 deliver wearables that monitor our alcohol intake? Despite our lack of punctuality, here are our top ten predictions for the year/10 months ahead…

  1. So, that alcohol monitor? Yup, it’s set to arrive in 2018

The world’s first wearable alcohol tracker is set and ready for the world. Counting down to their official launch, from BACtrack, this gadget estimates your alcohol level in real time. It comes in either standalone form (a metal tag-like device with a fabric wrist strap), or in a device that attaches to the Apple watch. So, it seems we’ll have no excuses for our tardiness come this time next year.

  1. Smart glasses will undergo a dramatic resurgence and push forward

Oh Google Glass – like the Christmas soufflé that failed to rise, we were left decidedly flat when it was announced production was to cease. However, having just began our research for our next blog article: “Smart glasses – Can we see them in our future?”, we have more than enough reason to believe that 2018 will be a pivotal year for smart glass technology. Thanks to the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Samsung and Microsoft, it seems big things are coming. Perhaps what we’re most anticipating however, is whether Amazon will finally confirm their entrance to this market – making the smart home connection to wearables a dream finally come true.

  1. The world of augmented reality will make you sweat, squat and stretch – Feel the burn!

A big theme in smart glass technology is if and how they could work with augmented reality, and in the upcoming CES 2018 event, it seems we’ll be treated to a demonstration from Icaros – a Virtual Reality company that wants to show the world the new way of working out. Known as “Active VR”, it combines personal trainer, with the chance of working out wherever. Not only could this prove an influence on smart glass and VR headset manufacturers, but it could collide with the world of smart sportswear, too. Which brings us nicely onto our next point…

  1. Sports wearables are going to hit the ground running

The CES 2018 line-up provides for predictions a plenty, as we can see who and what is going to showcased. This year, an overwhelming amount of companies will be in the business of fitness, and from fitness trackers masquerading as jewellery, to implanted devices that monitor your health and fitness, we’re going to see innovation in action. What’s perhaps most exciting about this progress, is that smart patches are seemingly just around the corner. No bigger than your palm, the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and E Ink are already busy progressing this potentially market disrupting piece of tech.

  1. Hearables and bone conduction technology are going to be heard loud and clear

Bone conductive technology is promising to deliver sharp sounding songs, whilst still allowing you to keep your wits about you (rumour has it this technology will be seen in Amazon’s *ahem* smart glasses, as well as in the smart glasses from VUE). However, where this technology will really come to fore will be with smart earphones. Take Aftershokz Trekz as an example.

With bone conduction and hearables combining, this is just one way in which technologies could and should merge together, to finally, finally, get to an approach closer to holistic wearables.

Audio products in store

Wearable Technology for the Elderly

As people get older, they may find it difficult to face losing autonomy due to health concerns and other issues. Their friends and families worry about them living alone – and considering the dangers that older people can face from falls and other medical issues, those fears are understandable. Fortunately, there’s a happy medium now in wearable technology for the elderly.

New wearable sensors are making it possible for seniors to maintain their independence and autonomy while also giving them and their loved ones some peace of mind.

What Is Wearable Technology?

Simply put, wearable technology is any piece of technology that you can wear on your body. Examples of wearable technology might include shoes, belts, rings, watches, and other items.

Many of the options in wearable technology are surprisingly fashionable. You might expect them not to be, but as electronics have become smaller the possibility of creating sleek and wearable garments and accessories has become a reality.

Another way to look at wearable technology is to view it as the perfect marriage of fashion and technology. In fact, the theme of 2016’s Met Gala in New York was “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” Celebrities attended wearing fashions that incorporated technology in a variety of ways. One of the most stunning ensembles of the evening was designed by Zac Posen and worn by actress Claire Danes. The dress appeared to be sky blue under bright light, but in the dark it was revealed to be made of fiber optic LED fabric that glowed like the night sky.

Of course, some wearable technology is mostly decorative, like Posen’s dress, while other options combine fashion and function.

What are the Benefits of Wearable Sensors for Elderly People?

The benefits of wearable sensors for elderly people are clear. They allow older people to balance their need for autonomy with protecting themselves in the event that they need help. And because technology has advanced, they can be fashionable while doing it.

Wearable sensors can do everything from monitoring heartbeats, respiration, and sleep patterns to helping people who are vision impaired avoid obstacles in their paths. They can also be connected to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology, allowing the easy transmission of biometric information to caregivers and family members.

What might amaze you about the wearable technology for the elderly that’s available today is that it is so sleek that you have probably seen people on the streets of London wearing it without even realizing what it was.

That’s helpful because for some older people, the thought of losing dignity by wearing a clunky monitor is not an appealing one. The new items available are far more unobtrusive than such sensors were in the past – and that means that it may be relatively easy to convince your loved one to wear one.

Examples of Wearable Technology for Elderly People

To give you an idea of how fashionable and functional wearable technology can be, let’s look at a few examples.

E.life Waterproof NFC Ringly Smart Ring Enabled Wearable Technology with Health Stone 

The NFC Smart Ring from Ringly has a sleek black design that belies its multiple functions. This ring operates in conjunction with a smart phone, keeping personal information (such as payment information or unlocking technology) on the underside of the ring and the things that need to be easily accessible, like your email address, in the top.

The ring itself never needs to be charged, making it ideal in the event the person wearing it is unable to reach their smart phone. Communication with the ring is simple, requiring only a whisper.

Misfit Shine Fitness + Sleep Monitor

If you want a piece of wearable technology to track your activities during the day and your sleep at night, the Misfit Shine Fitness + Sleep Monitor can help. The technology in this band, which looks like a high-end watch and can be worn on the wrist, shoe, bra, or even around the neck, goes beyond a simple step counter. It can track any physical activity and also keep track of your sleep cycles.

The Misfit Shine has a sleek black band and a gold-toned face. It can be worn with almost any outfit from casual to dressy.

Jawbone UP3 Teal Cross Heart Rate Activity and Sleep Tracker

Monitoring your heart rate can be important both as a measure of fitness and as a way of alerting you to potential problems. The Jawbone UP2 Teal Cross Heart Rate Activity and Sleep Tracker keeps track of your average heartbeat throughout the day.

At night, this device transforms into a sleep monitor. It monitors REM, light, and deep sleep, and it also includes a silent alarm that will wake you silently at the ideal place in your sleep cycle.

Conclusion

As both technology and fashion continue to evolve, you can expect to see more products with wearable technology for elderly people. These products can provide peace of mind and real-time monitoring while also making a fashionable addition to anybody’s wardrobe.

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Wearable tech for swimming

Wearable technology is starting to help the performance of swimmers for a variety of reasons. We delve deeper and investigate what’s available to help you swim in style when you next take a dip in Hampstead Heath ponds.

Swimming for health and fitness

Where previously, measuring performance in water was limited to athletes and their coaches, many devices have now become more affordable to help regular swimmers. Doing so helps gather data and trends to improve stamina and swimming technique.

Most common of these are heart rate monitors and performance measurement devices.

Underwater Heart Rate Monitors

As an anaerobic form of exercise, a heart rate monitor in the pool or the ponds is a useful way to set targets for a swimming session or for over several sessions. Changes over time can help measure improvements in overall health and fitness. Typically worn around the temple and ears, these devices work by allowing an Infra Red sensor to measure the blood flowing through capillaries.

This data is then sent to a built in processor which when set against the temple, translates the information into audio through bone conduction. One of the major benefits of this piece of technology is that it tells you exactly how hard your body is working in real time and can help you reach your optimum level no matter how intense or casual the swim is.

Finis Inc. has developed Aqua-Pulse, which uses infrared sensors and functions like an ear clip.

Instabeat is another device that can help swimmers in this area. With heart rate sensors mounted on swimming goggles, swimmers can instead have visual feedback on how they’re faring underwater.

Performance Feedback

Besides monitoring and relaying heart rate, Bone Conduction Technology is also being applied to give constant audio feedback on how fast you are swimming, together with other real time and calculated statistics that can help improve the performance of your swim.

The Misfit Shine and FlyFit are going to make appearances in the market very soon and if you decide to get one, has the potential to greatly improve your swimming performance.

The Speedo Aqua, the Garmin Swim Worldwide watch and the Swimsense have motion sensors on the devices that can help track how many laps, the pace, the stroke count and even identify the type of stroke you are doing.

The Basis Peak and the Mio Alpha 2 can track a great number of stats underwater and work really well in depths of up to 30 metres. The device can automatically be synced with a mobile app for reviewing the results later and the display screen can be customized.

Whether you want to track the distance travelled, read time underwater, use it as a stopwatch or check how many calories are burnt, underwater fitness trackers can help you track even the tiniest movements you do underwater, all thanks to a variety of complex, integrated sensors.

Audio and music players for swimming

Several companies have waterproofed traditional Mp3 devices to enable swimmers to listen to music underwater. This helps to get into the zone much quicker and is also more likely to help extend a work out. More prevalent though, are Mp3 devices that use bone conduction technology for audio transmission, which can be used in place of ear-phones.

The SwiMP3 uses jawbone conduction, where sound resonates through the jawbone and the music plays as you might expect.

Safety for professional divers and open water swimming

Underwater airbags are not just used for lifting heavy shipwrecks out of the water anymore! Kingii is the latest swimming, wearable tech. It is a wristband that can help take you to the surface, or keep you afloat when at risk of drowning or facing danger in open waters. The Kingii weighs less than an average smartphone and contains a rectangular pouch with a small capsule of carbon dioxide.

If you get into trouble when out swimming or need immediate assistance, all you need to do is tug on the bracelet, which will inflate the flotation device in a matter of seconds, inflating the airbag with carbon dioxide. This will then lift you up to the surface of the water and to safety.

Making swimming for leisure more fun

Underwater cameras including GoPro feature stunning video quality and is built to withstand extreme water pressure and environments. Wearable underwater cameras allow users to have their hands free for both leisure and extreme water sports.

Aids for Paralympians

When a Paralympic swimmer reaches the end of a lap, the coach would ordinarily tap him or her on the back as a signal to flip or turn around. Developed by the Spanish Paralympic Committee and in association with Samsung, Blind Caps are the newest entrants in the league of swimming wearable tech.

The device works by having hardware worn on the swimmer, which is connected to software on a smartwatch or a phone. The coach can then simply tap once on the phone or the watch to alert the swimmer when he or she has reached the end of the lap.Blind caps

The alert comes in the form of a gentle vibration when the swimmer reaches the end of the pool. With this piece of technology, comes a positive change in the way Paralympic games can now be conducted.

Whichever device you choose to take for your next swim, stay safe and have fun!

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A game changer for healthcare

As wearable technology has gained more traction in our day-to-day lives, it has also forayed and extended its growth into the healthcare sector.

What started out as a simple, life-style device has evolved into innovative break-throughs that could shape the future of the health management industry. The data from wearable technology offer health professionals insights into a patient’s well-being that can be used to provide better care in a personalised way.

medical 2Wearable devices can empower a person and educate them with real-time data on their health and well being.

Data as basic as the number of steps you have taken to as complex as how well your lungs are working can be accessed through wearable devices. You can easily check your blood pressure by glancing at the display and for further review, it syncs this data to your smartphone, so you can view it anytime, anywhere with the analysis of associated life-style habits.

The device can provide valuable recommendations such as what food to consume if blood sugar levels fall. In addition, these devices can also measure levels of brain activity, body temperature and hydration.

This technology has made living with diabetes not so dreaded as it used to be. There are glucose monitors available that one can carry in a tiny case and an insulin pump that is attached to the person at all times.

The devices provide its wearer with regular health updates and contain historical data. It also helps to make quick decisions by giving timely feedback thereby being in control over the situation.

Wearable devices don’t just identify the problem and provide suggestions, but they also are poised to play a key role in offering solutions.

For example, Valedo, one of the health-oriented wearables available in the market, is a pair of wearables that come as a relief to those who have issues related to lower back health. It makes use of an accelerometer, a gyro meter and a magnetometer to capture your motion across a 3D plane and then suggests 45 different exercise options through its interactive interface depending on your health condition and requirement.

Wearables are now being modified by engineers to incorporate algorithms that analyse more biometric data.

wearable technology medical useAs wearable devices are being widely adopted for personal health management, its application on the professional front is also on the rise.

Google Glass – the smart eyewear, helps surgeons to perform surgery with more precision by having the CT and X-ray images directly in their field. This helps the surgeon to devote their full attention to the patient and not have to worry about leaving the room for getting the X-ray reports.

It has also become easier to monitor a patient’s vital signs minute-by-minute as opposed to the four-hour check which is usually done at the hospitals.

BioPatch is a smart device that notifies any adverse signs or symptoms found in the body and alerts the nurse via smartphones thus helping them efficiently prioritize their time.

Wearable technology also has the potential to save you from occasional trips to the hospital by transmitting the necessary health related data to the doctor via wireless devices thus revolutionizing the doctor-patient interaction and improving the comfort of the patient.

How readily and to what extent this is taken advantage of remains to be seen.

The top 5 wearable brands today

Wearable technology is one of the fastest growing trends in modern times and the demand for particular brands is rising rapidly.

Though there are recurrent debates regarding the necessity and the overall value of these devices today, wearable technology manufacturers continue to manufacture enhanced, people-friendly wearable tech, to appeal to a growing demographic of health-conscious people, the education industry and some tertiary sectors.

LG ,_ _ _ _ _ _-_14507399524‘Google glass’ has researchers buzzing with excitement, whilst some gamers have found their little slice of heaven with the ‘Oculus Rift’, the VR viewer, that takes the user into a virtual gaming world, as if they were present in the game themselves.

Wearable technology also comes in the form of smartwatches – your personal fitness tracker, your wallet and your app manager all-in-one. ‘Moto 360’ and ‘Apple Watch’ are some of the few examples of the leading smartwatches in the market.

Here is a round-up of the most popular wearable technology manufacturers and brands in the market today –

1. Fitbit

Fitbit is the clear winner in the global wearable technology market. In the first quarter of the year 2015, Fitbit shipped 3.9 million wearable devices, accounting for nearly 34.2% of the market.

The three wearable devices, the Charge, the Charge HR and the Surge are devices that help consumers keep a tab on their fitness levels, their weight, diet and activity and are currently the most-used activity-tracking wearables around the world; and also the most talked-about.

2. Xiaomi

Xiaomi is literally the dark horse of the wearable market in China, and it is now making its presence felt globally. With a market share of 17.1%, the brand is known for its best-selling wearable device – the Mi Band.

Unlike other giants in the wearable technology market, the Mi Band cannot tell the time, connect to external apps or even display notifications. So what makes this band stand out from the rest in the crowd? It’s cheaper than most wearables and still has almost the same functions as a Fitbit or a Jawbone.

Its simplistic appearance is one of its greatest USP’s and its 30-day battery life is one that other big brands such as Apple, Fitbit, Samsung and Moto need to look out for.

3. Apple Inc.

After a recent survey conducted on 2,000 smartphone users in the US, Apple was declared the ‘coolest wearable brand’ among all other brands and is the company that every other company benchmarks themselves against.

According to a recent report, Apple is second in line as one of the most popular wearable technology manufacturers and has shipped 3.6 million units of its only wearable device – the Apple Watch, giving the company a colossal 19.9% share of the entire global market.

Most popular wearable technology manufacturers4. Samsung

Samsung’s ‘Gear’ range includes Tizen-powered Gear, Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, Gear S and Gear Fit.

These smartwatches come in a range of colors, customizable themes and display SMS’s, incoming calls, 3G Radio, physical activity, emails and other 3rd party apps in the background.

Though both Apple and Samsung are two different ecosystems of their own, the two brands have always been pitted against one another when it comes to technology. Even in the case of wearable devices, there are differences right off the bat.

The displays in both watches are obviously different – one is round, while the other is rectangular. The Samsung smartwatch is also lighter.

The other difference between the Samsung and the Apple wearable devices is that, while the ‘Gear’ smartwatches are compatible on Samsung and other Android mobile phone devices, the Apple Watch works only with the iPhone.

Samsung however, has a larger reach due to its standard quality and is far more affordable in terms of price.

5. Motorola

The Moto 360 and the Moto 360 Sport range have been released and are already grabbing interest with its premium features.

Appearance-wise, the Moto smartwatches are considered some of the best-looking in the wearable technology industry and come with Gorilla Glass 3 protection for the display and the Live Dial feature for Android Wear. The Moto 360 range shows time, notifications, comes with a bright LED display, plays music and tracks fitness levels.

With so many wearable technologies breaking into multiple industries and with the future looking bright and welcoming for these next-gen devices.

Smartwatches & payment systems

Smartwatch owners can now use their smartwatches for a wide variety of functions. Data stored and retrieved on smartwatches is becoming more reliable, secure, with multiple levels of authentication.

clock-653391_640Smartwatches have shown that they can retrieve information, check the weather, help with navigation, check call logs, store apps and monitor personal health care data.

In recent times, smartwatches also serve as ID, store ticketing info for events and in the future, are also seen as devices that can help their owners make quick payments at a checkout.

Though people still prefer the one-step wireless card tap, fishing it or a phone out from a purse or pocket can be quite fumbly. Smartwatches combine the best of both.

Here’s some information on the different payment systems that are compatible and those that are yet to be configured with smartwatches:

Apple Pay

The Apple Watch supports the Apple Pay system and is currently the only smartwatch in the market to support a payment system. It’s shown great success with its users and is currently dominating the smartwatch market with at least 4 million units of the wearable being sold since its introduction to the market.

Samsung Pay

Samsung Pay has already been launched in Korea and the United States and though it has still not caught fire in the United States or the UK, Samsung Pay has shown great amount of success in its homeland with 100,000 payments being made in a day with the Samsung Pay function.

The upcoming Samsung Smartwatches will include the Samsung Pay function that will enable easier and a more reliable transaction process on the go, with all your details secured safely on your wrist. ‘Handy’ for a night out on the town (sorry, pun intended…).

smart-watches-and-payment-systemsPaying for your latte with ‘Pebble’

Though a dedicated payment system has not been initiated with the ‘Pebble’, it does provide the facility to pay for coffees at Starbucks outlets around the world.

This payment barcode only uniquely appears on the ‘Pebble’ display, which can then be fed into the Starbucks app scanner and voila! You’ve paid for your coffee!

With talks of the Android Pay system being introduced to ‘Pebble’, the possibilities could be endless!

Then ….there are dedicated smartwatches for payments

For the cost-conscious, there are dedicated smartwatches that help keep track of expenses while also making payments. The Cash Smartwatch is more like a smartwatch app than a watch itself that allows its users to keep a tab of payments and in the near future, make payments itself.

The Wirecard Band on the other hand uses NFC technology. The band, though not exactly a smartwatch, functions like a payment band working with a contactless payment process. The user wearing the Wirecard band simply places the band against the NFC payment terminal and the payment goes through.

With Apple Pay breaking into the market and talks of Android Pay and Samsung Pay making progress, smartwatches are starting to revolutionize the way that payments are being made today. According to a source, wearable technology is in fact the best way for companies such as Apple and Samsung to attract consumers to their mobile payment systems, rather than smartphones.

Tech in class – trends for today

Laptops, smartphones and tablets have all made their appearances in digital-friendly classrooms and now, it’s time for wearable technology to do its bit. Here’s a summary of some recent studies into the popularity of wearable technology today and in the near future –

Andriod Features 3Trends now

More than a hundred classes around the world are using VR viewers to magically transport themselves to historical spots around the world thanks to an innovative app by Google known as ‘Expeditions’.

The result of having these classrooms implement VR viewers has been phenomenal. As a result students are showing greater engagement in classrooms.

‘Muse headbands’, work more like ‘brain-activity monitors’ and were implemented at the University of Victoria and New York University.

Here, researchers helped teachers improve the educational outcome of students by finding out which subjects, lectures or classes students enjoyed and were best for a students’ learning experience.

Trends for the future

A recent, 2014 Horizon Report has stated that wearable technologies will be adopted by higher education institutes around the globe within three to five years. A good number of top universities have already begun experimenting with wearable technology for teaching.
Recent studies have shown that teachers who use technology in the classrooms have a direct effect on the behaviour of students in classrooms.

If teachers are early adopters, there is a greater chance of impacting the pace of the ‘adoption of technology’ by students. This thereby, influences how students behave in classrooms and how technology is being used in the classrooms.

Students will have self-directed access to information and knowledge, quite literally at their fingertips. With wearable technologies such as smartwatches, Muse and GoPro seeping into classrooms; the possibilities and learning experiences for both, students and teachers are pretty impressive.