Wearable tech will be big at CES in January

Expect wearable technology to be one of the stars of the show at CES this January. The Consumer Electronics Show, taking place in Las Vegas, has long been a tech-fest (among other attractions …), and I’m betting on some major wearable launches early in the new year.

The show names “digital health care” as one of five trends to watch at CES ’14, with the Consumer Electronics Association predicting that there’s going to be way more to the topic than just “fitness devices like calorie counters, heart rate monitors and pedometers”.

Technology such as “devices that can monitor … health and safety” will become increasingly relevant as the oldest baby boomers approach their 70th birthdays. It’s not just about tracking your footsteps any more, it’s also about the Quantified Self and measuring your own personal I/O.

In the wristband wearable arena, the table stakes are getting higher, meaning that any new device launching is going to need quite a few features – such as:

  • Low-power Bluetooth syncing. Without this, you’re outdated already
  • An altimeter. Fitbit recently raised the bar by adding this to the Force
  • Battery life of at least a week

Adding to that, some things I’d love to see arriving on a wristband wearable:

  • A decent quality clasp. Enough with the cheap silicon bands! Time for some metal or leather options – Pebble Watch has the idea by using “industry standard” watch strap measurements
  • Wireless charging – although possibly only available off-wrist …
  • Heart-rate and/or blood pressure monitoring – especially when targeting  Boomers
  • GPS tracking – it featured in the original Jawbone UP but presumably burned too much battery and was deleted when the UP relaunched
  • Contactless payment – I’d like to integrate my credit card with my watch and just hover my wrist to pay for a coffee …

Based on the above, here are some predictions for what you might expect at CES:

  1. A new version of the Jawbone UP with Bluetooth. A year in wearable technology is a long time, and as I’ve already blogged, the UP has been comprehensively outgunned by rival wristbands this year.
  2. More new entrants – possibly from the watchmakers. I’d bet on an innovator like Swatch adding features to a wristwatch
  3. And coming from the other direction, a device like Pebble integrating a pedometer etc (confusingly, there is an ugly Pebble Activity Tracker by FitLinxx which appears to have nothing to do with the Kickstarter-originated Pebble Watch – but which definitely rivals Fitbug for the ugliest wristband wearable so far. The Pebble Activity Tracker also wins first prize for lame website copy: “An all-day activity tracker that will motivate you to be active anytime, anywhere. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from your destination. Enjoy a game of tag with your family.”)
  4. Second-generation improvements to the Fitbit Flex – expect a better battery life and perhaps a more robust silicon band, possibly also an altimeter
  5. The arrival of devices targeting Millennials – who have plenty of wrist real estate up for grabs, since they don’t tend to wear a watch

What do you think? Leave a comment with your predictions …

/WTW

3 Responses to Wearable tech will be big at CES in January

  1. […] predicted here more than three weeks ago, the UP24 means no more laborious plugging in to a smartphone to sync. […]

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  3. Informative article, exactly what I wanted to find.

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