Sony’s crowdfunded Wena smartwatch could be a hit — if it ever gets here
Sep02

Sony’s crowdfunded Wena smartwatch could be a hit — if it ever gets here

Considering the results of a study conducted earlier this year which found “many U.K. consumers would be unwilling to wear any [wearable] products currently on the market” due to their ugly design, it’s no surprise that more and more tech titans are finally beginning to focus on the overall aesthetic of their wearable devices. Increasing the adoption of wearable technology by way of fashionable design is the basis for Sony’s Wena Wrist smartwatch, an acronym which stands for “Wear Electronics Naturally.” Wena is the latest product to come out of Sony’s crowdfunding and e-commerce platform First Flight, a venture that finances experimental projects spearheaded by the company’s employees. The watch is set for release only in Japan and only for iOS, although developers will first have to raise enough funds to bankroll the project within 60 days. In this case, that’s just a cool ¥10 million (~$83,000). Wena’s watch face is that of a traditional timepiece, with three separate hands and dials for hours, minutes, and seconds. Just as a classic analog watch can never truly look outdated, the Wena is designed to remain current thanks to its tech-heavy wriststrap; upgrade the strap, and the entire device will follow suit.  So what are the hardware specs hidden in said strap? An NFC wallet, an activity tracker, and smartphone notifications via LED lights and strap vibration. Details are scarce, but we do know that users will have the ability to take phone calls, check emails, and play games — but at the expense of the device’s week-length battery life (per usual). If Wena is a success in Japan, it could come to the United States, marking another smartwatch hit for Sony alongside the Sony Smartwatch 3. We’ll have to see how the first wave of consumers takes to the watch, if the project is...

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The LG Watch Urbane Luxe is the gold Apple Watch of Androids
Sep01

The LG Watch Urbane Luxe is the gold Apple Watch of Androids

The LG Watch Urbane Luxe is the most luxurious Android smartwatch we’ve seen to date. Boasting an alligator leather strap, 23-karat gold plating, and a “deployment clasp,” each watch is “individually numbered and presented in a piano gloss lacquered case with a signed certificate of authenticity.”  Interestingly enough, though, these are the only differences between the Urbane Luxe and its predecessor, the Urbane. The body shape, style, and specs remain completely unchanged. Just as the Watch Urbane is LG’s answer to the Apple Watch, the Watch Urbane Luxe is the Gold Apple Watch equivalent. Because for those who can afford it, why not splurge for luxury, I guess? As LG VP Chris Yie says, “Wearable devices shouldn’t be thought of as an extension of one’s smartphone, but as an extension of oneself.” The result of a collaboration between LG and Reeds Jewelers, the Urbane Luxe is set to be featured at the IFA electronics show in Berlin this week. But don’t get too excited just yet. Only 500 limited edition watches will be manufactured, available for pre-order now and set to ship at the end of October. This seems about right, considering only about 500 people will find the $1,200 price tag...

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Apple patents new bone conduction earbuds
Aug27

Apple patents new bone conduction earbuds

Considering Apple’s ability to provide us a new generation of the same product every year, it’s surprising how little their iconic white earbuds have changed since their inception — until (maybe) now. A patent application published this week describes a plan aiming to improve the quality of voice communications in wireless earbuds through bone conduction. The plan is this: First, a sensor within the actual earbuds will monitor the vibrations in a user’s bone structure by detecting the vibrations of their vocal chords, essentially allowing for a far greater clarity of sound than currently possible. Secondly, internal microphones will detect environmental sound and “combine that information with accelerometer output, battery level and earbud position data,” to eradicate that noise pollution, offering a handy solution to the most common complaint by users of hands-free devices. So the improved earbuds will allow you to hear better in noisy environments while simultaneously allowing others to hear you better, too. This means that Siri will be able to actually understand you, always. Don’t be too excited just yet, though. Apple has been known to file multiple patents yearly, many of which never come to fruition. On the flipside, the company’s continued focus on music has got to mean the perfect earbuds will be in consumers’ ears sooner rather than later, right? Only time will...

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Is the to-be-released Swatch smartwatch the anti-Apple Watch?
Aug25

Is the to-be-released Swatch smartwatch the anti-Apple Watch?

Earlier this year, Swatch teased a different kind of smartwatch. Named the Touch Zero One, the $160 touchscreen device has general fitness tracker capabilities (monitoring calories burned and steps taken) but is specifically geared towards beach volleyball, harboring the ability to track spikes, high-fives, and low- and high-hits. The stats are forwarded to a companion app which, in turn, rates the user’s volleyball prowess on a scale of 0 to 100. The narrow scope of utility is precisely what sets the looming Swatch smartwatch apart from the crowd. Instead of cramming enormous functionality into a single device and thereby transforming it into a wrist-computer (read: Apple Watch), Swatch’s strategy appears to be “including individual tech features in different models.” The tactic makes sense, considering CEO Nicolas Hayek has stated the number ‘zero’ in the device’s title is for a reason. “Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine. The Touch Zero One is not the end of development,” he told Tages Anzeiger.  The hardware is another distinctive break from the path most smartwatch manufacturers have been trotting — and again, that seems to be precisely the point. The Touch Zero One has a clunky cab-yellow plastic face and a multi-colored band that can only be described as sporty, but it is designed for function over fashion, after all. And in a market flooded with fitness devices ironically overly-preoccupied with aesthetics, some good old-fashioned utilitarianism is a welcome relief. But is the plan to go against the grain brilliant in its novelty, or is it merely an attempt to be different just to be different? Swatch has made its intention to go head-to-head with Apple painstakingly clear. Aside from calling the Apple Watch “a toy,” Hayek recently trademarked “One More Thing,” a phrase infamously used by the late Steve Jobs while announcing new devices.  Either way, Swatch’s tactic is certainly an interesting one, especially considering the fact that the Touch Zero Two will be here sooner than you may think. Although details are scarce, Hayek announced the watch will be unveiled at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de...

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Intel IDF15 brings Intel/Fossil smartwatch, Curie module hacks, and a TV show
Aug19

Intel IDF15 brings Intel/Fossil smartwatch, Curie module hacks, and a TV show

This summer’s IDF15 (Intel Developer Forum) in San Francisco brought together a host of innovative developers. While the event itself spanned a fairly large technological spectrum (from robotics to IoT to AI), the presentations regarding wearable tech were especially interesting for us. Check out our highlights below. Intel/Fossil Smartwatch Last year Intel teamed up with watch maker Fossil Group to create an Android Wear smartwatch. That watch was finally unveiled, and by the looks of it, it is meant to be an Apple competitor. Many have noted the smartwatch’s resemblance to the Moto 360 ecosystem with the round face (even featuring the black bar at the bottom) and a choice of interchangeable leather and metal bands available in silver and gold. While details are scarce (we don’t even know the device’s name), we do know that Fossil plans on also making watches for Michael Kors and Kate Spade. Fossil Group announced a series of device called “Connected Accessories” that will include men’s and women’s bracelets, and two smartwatches, including the above shown smartwatch running Android Wear. No price points were announced but a release date of October 2016 was given for the Connected Accessories. Curie Module Uses IDF also saw an announcement for a host of new Curie module uses. The button-sized wearables chip is already known for it’s role in a motion detection wristband capable of commandeering a swarm of robot spiders, but this time around it’s versatility was demonstrated through a BMX demonstration. Curie modules were embedded in the seat and handlebars of the bikes and served to gather data on everything from airtime and maximum height to landing impact and bike angle as professional riders took to the stage. While the demonstration showed off Curie’s ability in a fun and visually engaging way, it’s functionality is in reality unlimited. Curie’s power-to-size ratio really does allow for an incredibly diverse range of practical uses- from unlocking a computer via wristband to serving as the most reliable fitness wearable to date. America’s Greatest Makers TV Show The tech revolution is finally coming to the masses. United Artists Media Group CEO Mark Burnett, creator of the entrepreneurial TV hit Shark Tank and wilderness endurance competition Survivor, has signed on for a new show- and the prize is $1 million. Titled America’s Greatest Makers, inventors across the country will be asked to submit videos presenting ideas for wearable tech or consumer devices powered by the aforementioned Curie module. “I am really excited because it’s so fresh,” said Burnett. “We’re going to spur the tech community, and the future tech community. These are people who never would have thought to invent something until they...

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