The wearable technology market today is worth over US$24 billon, thanks to the popular demand for various new devices that have emerged recently. This is a product market that is expected to continue to climb upwards of US$80 billion in the next five years or so. That’s a staggering number for devices that range from 20 bucks to $15,000. We take a look at the pros and cons of each of our favourites, and tell you whether you should pick one up or not.
ON THE WRIST
1. Apple Watch
Our associate editor Farhan Shah recently rated this as a “Buy Later”, and we stand by our statement. Apple’s smart watch offers a plethora of functions, but all tied back to the mobile phone which it acts as an accessory an intermediary to. That’s great, if you simply want to have a watch that can translate something to you through a display, but we aren’t quite feeling the full benefits of such a device as yet. Nevertheless, it’s great for message updates, alerts, and as a fitness tracker.
Functions: Photo viewing, navigation, time display, app controls on phone, weather, notifications, calendar alerts, voice control, fitness tracker, heartbeat sensor, et cetera
Pros: Aesthetically beautiful, comes in various options, haptic feedback, controls on watch via a single crown, easy to operate
Cons: Pricey compared with competitors, tied to iOS, first version doesn’t utilise all the potential of the device, short but acceptable battery life
It’s one of the most popular fitness trackers in the market, and one of the longest present apart from Tissot‘s adventure watches. Fitbit’s products generally measure your activity for the day and act as a watch as well. They also monitor your sleep patterns and act as a caller ID display when connected to the phone via Bluetooth. It’s not as comprehensive as the Apple Watch, but it’s plenty sufficient.
Functions: Caller ID display, wireless syncing with the phone, sleep analysis and silent alarm, time display, activity tracker
Pros: Sturdy, with a rubber strap design. The silent alarm and sleep tracker wakes you in light sleep. Works with all platforms. Long battery life
Cons: The Fitbit Surge, the best of the lot, is a little pricey. Not super comfortable to wear to sleep as well
This is the coolest motorcycle helmet we’ve seen ever. Currently on Indiegogo, it’s already hit its required target. The Android-powered device has an augmented reality heads-up display with an ultra wide angle rear view camera, transparent display so you can see the road in front of you clearly, and makes it easy and safe for motorcycle riders on the road. Think Tron, when they had the automated guiding system. Cool.
Functions: Navigation, always in focus heads-up display, GPS, rear view camera, handsfree calling, music streaming, Bluetooth connectivity, Internet via phone, automated updates, polycarbonate shell
Pros: It’s a safety device for riders that ensure they will always know the best route around, keeps them connected and also spatially aware. It also has a great design
Cons: It’s pretty expensive, even for a motorcycle helmet, and it does block out contact with the external environment. Only for motorcyclists
4. Oculus Rift
The most-talked about virtual reality headset uses state-of-the-art optics to give you an immersive experience with a wide field-of-view. The game-focused platform is also great for movies and other more adult interests, as some people have already found on certain Reddit subs. The start of the virtual reality experience as we imagined in the future, it’s not a holographic device but immersive virtual reality.
Functions: Virtual reality display, game connectivity, video display, stereo audio, positional tracking
Pros: Wide field-of-view, 360 degree positional tracking, high refresh rate for video, integrated audio, comes with matching controllers, immersive experience
Cons: Needs to be connected via cable to a computer to render the graphics, high specs needed for computers. Expensive.
We’ve spoken about this before, a handsfree holographic computer that turns every platform and space into a computing display. It’s a work-in-progress that ties in with Windows, taking it to the next level of experience. Microsoft has had incredible demos so far, with videos showing how the software works. Six cameras and stereo sound create an augmented reality interface where you can engage in work, entertainment and more.
Functions: Augmented reality computing, holographic display, 3-D imaging, collaborative platform computing, et cetera.
Pros: It’s a computer in a (relatively heavy) set of eyewear. If this doesn’t make you crave it, I’m not sure what else will.
Cons: It’s not out yet and so far we’ve only seen tested and tried demo software.
6. Meta Pro
Google Glass’ death knell is not quite sounded, even though most of us regard it as an early and ambitious project that failed to take off. Meta Pro attempts to take where Google Glass failed and add some style to it. It projects 3D stereoscopic visuals in holographic form on the front of the eyewear, and offers surface tracking and natural user interface through finger gestures.
Functions: Video and audio display, interactivity, augmented reality interaction
Pros: It looks good, acts in a similar manner to Microsoft’s Hololens. However, the device that holds the processor is in a separate object.
Cons: At US$3,000 odd a pair at our current estimates, this is for the wealthy.