aNewDomain — Crowded and chaotic as usual, the CES Unveiled pre-show press event in Las Vegas churned this year with all manner of “connected devices,” most glaringly those known as wearables. Some of the most intriguing things on display — like an expandable belt for monitoring your waistline and a gesture-driven finger ring for controlling home appliances — are still kind of clunky. Yet older categories of wearables — including smart watches and cameras – looked sleeker and more practical as they moved into their second generation.
This year the ugliest and most outlandish gadgets tended to grab the most attention. In a booth housing Emiota, journalists clamored to see Belty, a belt that changes size in accordance with small changes in the width of your girth that could happen when you eat, hit the gym or sit down.
Despite its endearing name, Belty isn’t exactly something you would happily wear to work (or out on a date). It’s covered with a heavy metal mesh that conceals hidden sensors. Even worse, if Belty decides that you’ve been sitting down longer than you should, the smart belt starts to vibrate.
Belty is ergonomically elegant, though, in comparison to Melomind, a cumbersome, nerdy-looking headset aimed at monitoring your brain to help you learn to relax your mind.
The worry buster is available for pre-order now at $299 from the website of device creator My Brain Tech, where it is dubbed “the connected headset to get rid of stress.”
One Ring to Rule Them …
Elsewhere at CES Unveiled, Logbar drew tons of clamor with Ring — a piece of jewelry for controlling home gadgets– and its accessory Ring Hub, for wireless connectivity to those other Internet things.
People are taking plenty of notice of Logbar outside of CES, too. Last year, Logbar raised more than $880,000 in financing through Kickstarter. The startup is also teaming up with outside developers and other partners.
On its website, Logbar details how you can use Ring to control “Pepper,” a robot produced by Softbank, in addition to switching the color of your indoor lighting through wireless communications with “hue” lightbulb gizmos from Philips.
Although Ring is new to CES in 2015, this isn’t the first incarnation of the product. The version on display at CES is smaller than the original prototype and, unlike its predecessor, it’s made from metallic materials that supposedly will not interfere with wireless connectivity. So even among new types of wearable products like this one, progress can happen quite quickly, especially with financial resources at hand.
Old School Wearables
But the changes seem even more marked among established sorts of wearables (if any kinds of wearables can actually be considered well established). For example, Clip 2, the second gen of Narrative’s wearable camera, boasts the new ability to connect to a computer through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth wireless, instead of being limited to USB tethering.
Clip 2 also sports a more flexible back mount, letting you attach the camera to a chain or pin it to your sweater, for instance, rather than just clipping it on to something.
Additionally, Narrative has upgraded the gadget’s sensor from 5 mexapixels to 8 megapixels, the angle of its lens from 68 degrees to 86 degrees and its camera resolution from 2560×1920 to 3264×2448. A more capable 315 mAh battery reportedly lasts up to eight hours.
Narrative, by the way, is also now adding capabilities to its smartphone apps for sharing timelines of “public moments” captured with the camera. The new nicety is already available for Android phones and is heading soon to iOS. Narrative offers a desktop app for Clip cameras, too.
Meanwhile, Withings — a company that’s already offering fitness-related connected devices — wasted no time in moving from its first generation smart watch, the Activité product announced last summer, to the new Activité Pop, which was introduced at CES Unveiled.
Like the initial Activité, the Activité Pop is able to monitor your steps and sleep patterns. But, unlike the first smart watch, which was priced at $400, the Pop costs only $150. It also adds water resistance as a new feature. (Purportedly, you can go swimming while you’re wearing it.) The Pop is set for release this week and comes in either grey, sand or blue color schemes.
As the so-called “Internet of things” grows bigger and bigger, people will need to start getting kind of selective about what wearables they’re going to wear – and how many of them, for that matter.
Wearing Clip 2 at the same time as Activité Pop could be a snap. But even if you got up the nerve to don Belty before heading out the door, you probably wouldn’t want to boost your stress levels by adding a clunky headset to the wearables mix.
On the other hand, two reps from French-based My Brain Tech sat calmly through all of CES Unveiled with Melomind on their heads. So maybe you’d be relaxed enough not to even care what you were wearing if you did something like that every day.
Image Credits in Order of Appearance: myBrain, Logbar, Narrative, Withings