Wearables at MWC: Day One round-up
Based on a quick tour of the show floor and a skim of the news headlines, it appears that smartwatches are the most-popular wearable at this year’s Mobile World Congress, with the fashion industry finally getting in on the game.
Jewelry and accessories brand Guess is among the exhibitors leading the charge to show analog wristwatches with a one-line LED readout built-in to the face – looking like a flashback to the Breitling Chronospace watch.
Guess describes its entry into tech as a device where “fashion meets lifestyle functionality”. There’s actually a little bit more to the watches than meets the eye, since they can be used to provide voice commands to connected Android and Apple smartphones, making it possible to respond to messages straight from the wrist.
The Guess Connect model, due to launch in “late” 2015, is produced in a partnership with watchmaker Martian.
Swiss manufacturer MyKronoz is showing a range of smart wristbands and watches including the ZeBracelet smartwatch with built-in mic and speaker, which also offers the usual smart wristband features such as step counting and sleep tracking.
MyKronoz’ ZeClock is visually similar to the Guess Connect, also using an LED panel built in to the watch face –and this model can be used as a remote control for a smartphone camera as well as providing the usual wrist notifications of messages, calls, alarms etc .
For smart wristbands, real-time heart-rate tracking is huge
Despite the flood of smartwatches in Barcelona, smart wristbands are very much alive and well – and by the looks of it, real-time heart-rate tracking has already become this year’s must-have feature.
Fitbit, which is already on the market with its Charge HR wristband which includes heart-rate tracking, is offering MWC delegates a steep EUR 50 discount on the EUR 150 Charge HR.
A bunch of start-ups are also showing off smart wristbands with real-time HR monitoring, looking for distribution or OEM deals for their bands, including B-on Track from Shenzhen, China, and the Singaporean brand Oaxis O2, which uses colored LEDs on the display to show different heart rates.
Meanwhile, Garmin, which is investing heavily in its smart wristband range and sponsoring the Garmin Healthband Challenge at MWC, is offering a 40% discount on selected devices – sold on the show floor – on the EUR 90 Vivofit and EUR 135 Vivosmart. In a competition which echoes Fitbit’s bungled 2014 attempt, Garmin is gamifying the show, with a chance for wristband owners to get on a top stepper leaderboard. Although the company is enthusiastic about the challenge, it’s quite vague about the actual prizes up for grabs.
Garmin is also using MWC to show off a makeover for its rather utilitarian VivoFit, with the “Signature Series” of interchangeable metallic bands, although these do make the device look more like a 1970s digital watch than perhaps intended.
More dispatches from the show floor tomorrow …