Wearable technology at Mobile World Congress
Here at Mobile World Congress, wearable technology is coming to the forefront. With the technology currently falling into three categories – smart wristbands, smartwatches and smart glasses – wearables are a major hype at this year’s event in Barcelona.
Wearables and the Internet of Things featured large in the presentations at the annual pre-MWC kick-off event held by research company IDC, which is now tracking the exponential growth of the Internet of Things, the category into which smart wristbands are counted.
Huawei and HTC expected to launch smartwatches; Samsung already out with new models
Meanwhile on the smartwatches side, expect phone makers HTC and Huawei to jump into the pool. In Barcelona, Huawei is very visible even outside the event, with promo stands at the airport and in city center locations including Placa de Catalunya. And the first online images of HTC’s watch show a pretty run-of-the-mill looking device.
According to IDC, Huawei, along with LG and Lenovo, are all now in the top 5 of smartphone vendors behind leader Samsung and second-placed Apple. IDC also thinks that Android market share will peak at just under 80% before leveling off in 2017 – which underlines that Android should be the dominant mobile operating system for developers.
Samsung has also today announced additional smartwatches, running on the previously-abandoned Tizen operating system, as GoMo News reports. Meanwhile CNBC tries to pour cold water on the whole thing by asking whether wearable tech is a victim of its own hype – yet the next day publishes a breathless account revealing that “it’s no secret wearable tech is on the rise”.
Smart wristbands – how much ground will you cover at MWC?
Fitbit is putting on a brave face despite the shock cancellation of its Force wristband and running another type of Fitbit Challenge at MWC – with daily prizes “for the top 2 participants who are most active, taking the most steps”. Get set for some high step counts: the MWC fairground is quite a way out of town and a good 10-minute walk from the local railway station, and the furthest-flung halls are a good 1km after that.
Fitbit is concentrating on selling Fitbit Flex bands to mobilistas at “an advantageous price” to delegates, of EUR 59. If you’re already a Fitbit user, you can join in the fun by registering on the firm’s booth at CS150 Congress Square.
Keeping an eye on smart glasses
Of the three emerging wearable technology categories, it is ‘augmented reality visors’ (as one vendor poetically described smart glasses) that are the ugly sister. So far, no sightings of anyone wearing Google Glass here in Barcelona. And it looks like Google’s rivals are lining up to bring more devices to the market – for example, eyewear firm Vuzix claims that its “award winning M100 smart glasses, V720 video headphones and other eyewear products” will be all over the show, with the company’s CEO declaring that “MWC is a key event for Vuzix”.
Watch this space for more news and analysis from Barcelona.