This week in wearables: Misfit Flash, extended battery life, and a delay for HTC
Jul17

This week in wearables: Misfit Flash, extended battery life, and a delay for HTC

Before you head out for the weekend, catch up on the many rumors and announcements that you may have missed this week. 1. With the recent success of the budget-conscious Xiaomi Mi Band, Misfit Wearables took the challenge of an affordable wearable into their own hands by releasing the Misfit Flash Link. With functions from fitness tracking to acting as a remote control for music, this $20 device just might currently be the most functional and most reasonably priced device on the market. 2. Despite the slowdown in Apple Watch success these days, rumors of the Apple Watch 2 updates have been spreading quickly. Tech reports are revealing that a bigger battery and an OLED screen are in the works for the watch design, as well as more capabilities such as mobile payment that are independent from Bluetooth. The likelihood of a FaceTime camera has quickly become less likely for this next generation, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing that capability in the next couple years. 3. The geniuses at Microsoft have created a new way to extend the battery life of your wearable. WearDrive is intended to move the most energy performing operations off the actual device and over to your smart phone using bluetooth. This way your wearable will only be responsible for the most basic functions, batteries won’t need to get any bigger, and maybe we can finally stop writing reviews for poor battery life. 4. Oculus VR made a huge play this week with the purchase of the Israel-based, gesture-control company, Pebbles Ltd. This acquisition was a smart, yet expensive (nearly a $60 million) buy for Oculus. While most gesture-control technologies use digitally-generated images of a user’s body, Pebbles allows users to actually see real images of their own hands and arms in their VR display. Hopefully we’ll be getting to see some cool tech updates to the virtual reality world soon. 5. Also fresh from the rumor mill is the news that Google is getting ready for the release of their own watch-to-watch messaging service for Android smartwatches. While the Apple Watch already has a messenger for users to send doodles to one another, it seems as though Google is trying to get a leg up in the smartwatch competition. 6. HTC is taking a couple steps back from the wearables game by delaying the release of their first fitness band, the HTC Grip. The delay is not due to production issues, but instead was a decision made so that HTC will be able to offer a complete line of fitness products later in the year, according to the company’s statement. Considering all of...

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Misfit Flash Link revealed: A $20 fitness and smart home device
Jul16

Misfit Flash Link revealed: A $20 fitness and smart home device

Following the lead of the budget-conscious Xiaomi Mi Band, Misfit Wearables has released the Flash Link, a $20 plastic clip-on wearable packing more features than its predecessor at a much more affordable price. Aside from the fitness tracking and sleep monitoring capabilities inherent to the Misfit Flash, the Misfit Flash Link functions as a remote control for music, computer presentations, and even camera selfies. On the downside, it requires two separate apps to accomplish all of this- The Misfit Fitness app for activity tracking, and the brand new Misfit Link app for the remainder. Here’s how it works: the button uses single, double, and triple presses as well as a hold function to fulfill different tasks. It is made of plastic, is water resistant, comes in a few different colors (onyx, frost, reef, and Coca-Cola red), and is intended to be clipped on (though it may worn on the wrist with additional bands). And perhaps most exciting – no charging required! The Misfit Flash Link runs on a replaceable coin cell battery that can go up to 6 months before running out of juice. It is refreshing how super simple the Flash Link is; it is just a button, after all. The flip side of the proverbial coin however is that the device can only be programmed for one app at any given time, meaning taking a selfie while skipping a music track is not an option (although how often do these occurrences need to overlap, really?). While the aforementioned dual app requirement and solo functionality of the Link may be an inconvenience for some, the minimalism (as well as the always gratifying pushing of a giant button) inherent to the device is undeniable. It is certainly interesting to watch as Misfit slowly but surely grows into something more than merely a fitness tracker provider. The click-button can already be used with Misfit’s Bolt light bulb, a device that can be remotely programmed for a variety of different settings. Furthermore, there are plans in the works for integration with Logitech Harmony smart home devices, meaning that Apple and Google may have some unexpected competition in the IoT realm. Either way, we are excited to watch as Misfit branches out towards creating cheaper and more versatile...

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5 companies trying really hard to make fashionable wearable tech
Jun02

5 companies trying really hard to make fashionable wearable tech

In a market admittedly flooded with remarkably ugly wearable tech, it was only a matter of time before devices were disguised as jewelry. The most successful of these “fashionable” devices are the ones that are not a mere coverup, but statement pieces that one would want to wear with or without the embedded technology. Here are our top five contenders for wearable tech attempting to marry aesthetics with innovation. Whether or not they’re worth the price tags — or even worth wearing — will be up to the eye of the beholder. June UV What’s cool about Nenatmo’s June UV bracelet is that it does one thing and one thing only: tracking UV exposure. The design is sleek and inconspicuous, also versatile in that it could be clipped onto a hair tie or lapel. However, if you are the type of person who wears sunscreen daily, you may not benefit much from a $129 device whose purpose lies in telling you when to apply it.   Misfit Flash The Misfit Flash is probably the most affordable ($49.99) and simultaneously simple device on this list. The gadget doubles as a fitness and sleep monitor, can clasp onto clothing, and is convenient in its water resistance and charge-free software (a single charge lasts up to six months!). The Flash also comes in seven non-cheesy but super-vibrant colors and is compatible with a large variety of smartphones. For a more blinged-out version of this tracker, check out the Swarovski Shine — although keep in mind that with great glitz comes a great price. Ringly Probably one of the more useful tech rings on the market, Ringly is actually pretty good looking (albeit slightly clunky). Its functionality is undeniable; choose what notifications you want to receive from whichever apps, and the ring vibrates and lights up in assigned, corresponding colors. Because it is somewhat inconspicuous, it seems like a great little gadget for the businesses woman on the go. $195 isn’t too steep a price for 18k gold and semi-precious stones if you live the type of life that prevents you from constantly pulling out your phone throughout the day. Tory Burch for Fitbit In a world overflowing with notoriously ugly wearable tech, we appreciate Tory Burch’s attempt at an aesthetically pleasing device that might actually blend into a woman’s wardrobe rather than stand out. However, her designs are anything but understated. Once on-arm, the bracelet is loud and heavy. The fact that it is costume and not gold means that it would wear quickly, as well. Unless you are a Tory fanatic, you are probably better off saving the $195 for a more affordable fitness tracker. Opening Ceremony & Intel The result of a partnership between...

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Understanding the missteps of today’s activity trackers
Mar27

Understanding the missteps of today’s activity trackers

2014 was a breakout year for activity trackers, with device after device entering the market. While we made significant progress in the world of quantified fitness, many consumers still struggled with whether activity trackers truly addressed their needs. The average consumer jumped at “smart” devices, hoping their ability to count steps, record activity, and log nutrition would be the magical cure to failed fitness attempts. What they found instead was akin to going out for tapas and leaving the table still hungry – a truth found in pages of one- and two-star Amazon reviews left by consumers frustrated by the inaccuracy and limitations of fitness devices. And it’s this frustration that causes one to wonder, “Why is it so difficult to accurately track gestures?” To answer that question, it’s important to better understand how activity tracking works and what’s inside your wearable. Your wearable has motions sensors inside that measure the way you move. Building a device that can use those motion sensors to distinguish between different movements can be tedious. First, engineers enlist users to test the devices by performing a set of activities — like walking or running — that the engineers can collect data from and analyze for specific patterns amongst the user base. When a pattern is recognized across a large set of users, an algorithm is written. This algorithm will identify a specific activity based upon motion data and will track the quantity with which that activity is performed. From the user’s perspective, the processing of motion data by algorithms is seamless; a regularly updated step count on the device screen. But from the engineer’s perspective, this is an intricate, time-consuming process, and one that is difficult to get right. Five factors play heavily into this challenge:   Selecting the Right Features – Features, or derived values extracted from a set of measured data, help inform pattern learning and gestures recognition. Often, the number of useful features quickly rises, making it increasingly difficult to recognize a pattern. It is difficult to know which features are right to consistently recognize an activity’s pattern. Your Unique Movements – How you move differs from the way other people move; however, wearables track movements through a set of algorithms that are tailored to the “average” person. So if your walking pattern falls outside the algorithmic average – say, due to a limp, variance in strides, or pushing a baby stroller – you’ll see inaccurate results. Body Location Specific – Today’s wearables are configured to be worn on a specific body part, often the wrist. It allows engineers to write more accurate algorithms, but it also means that changing...

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