It's no secret that I am not a big fan of smartwatches, and that I often refer to them as nothing more than a passing fad. One concept artist has all but changed my mind though. The the concept smartwatch he recently designed is both beautiful and brilliant in both form and function.
Gabor Balogh posted his design up on Adobe's Behance social network for designers, and it caught the eye of the entire tech world. The design is based off of the Havanna Timepiece from Triwa, and replaces its face-plate with a concept circular display. While new concept smartwatch designs pop up every day, Balogh's ditches the common square and bulky wrist-piece for a sleek and classical, low-profile design with a modern UI that I would be proud to wear every day.
The way it works with most wearable devices today is that you simply buy one of a few available models and go on about your day. If down the road you decide you need more features, you need to buy a new smartwatch. A group from the UK is working on a slick modular smartwatch that was inspired by Google's Project Ara.
I think this is a very cool idea. The way the product works is that the user can choose from a number of blocks that contain sensors inside. These blocks let you start with a basic configuration and then add new sensors as your needs change.
The sensors appear to be part of the links in the bracelet of the watch. They connect simply using something akin to headphone ports you would see on your PC or smartphone. This would allow you to customize the smartwatch to whatever you will be doing that day.
If you've ever wanted to live out a Seinfeld fantasy, and you own an Oculus Rift headset, now is your chance. Jerry's Place VR is a download for the Oculus Rift, which pits you right in the middle of Jerry Seinfeld's apartment from the hit TV show.
Fans can walk around the apartment's main room, bathroom, and Jerry's bedroom using Oculus VR's Rift headset, or even just a normal PC. Greg Miller, wrote on the project's website: "Television is virtual reality in some ways. I thought it would be a novel virtual reality experience to take a place that exists in Hollywood magic and make it for the Oculus Rift as if it were real".
Miller worked on Jerry's Place VR for around a month, using 3D modelling software to create a near-perfect, but virtual replica. He started the project off as a way to get used to using Unity, which is a game engine that a chunk of Oculus Rift-compatible titles are built on.
One thing I don't like with my Google Glass is that I can't type using it without pulling my smartphone, but it looks like Samsung is working on a way around this for its own wearable device.
According to Galaxy Club, which has unearthed a new patent filing from Samsung, the company has been experimenting with the idea of using its wearable device to blast out an augmented reality keyboard onto users' hands in order to type out messages. You can see from the image above that the patent sees the device blasting out the QWERTY keyboard onto users' hands, leaving thumbs free to type on the augmented reality keyboard.
While this looks good on paper - or, on screen - I personally don't think this would be practical in any form. It might be nice for other functions of Samsung's Glass-like device, but for typing? Keep on keeping on, Samsung.
A woman in San Francisco made a complaint that she was assaulted by some Google Glass haters at Molotov bar. The situation escalated to a point where she was verbally and physically assaulted, then robbed.
Sarah Slocum was flaunting her Google Glass to her friends while she was around the bar, when a few people didn't like seeing the wearable tech in their face. Slocum, who is a tech blogger said, "OMG so you'll never believe this but... I got verbally and physically assaulted and robbed last night in the city, had things thrown at me because some *** Google Glass haters."
Researchers in Japan have made an 'Earclip-type Wearable PC' which can be controlled by blinking or the 'click' of a tongue. Currently the prototype is being tested.
The wireless device weighs 17 grams and is equipped with Bluetooth, GPS, Compass, Gyro-sensor, barometer, speaker and a microphone. What's being said by many commentators is that this device could be the 'next big thing' in wearable technology. The device uses a microchip and has data storage. The design of the Earclip PC was inspired from a traditional 'ikebana' flower setup. Kazuhiro Taniguchi of Hiroshima City University said,"We have made this with the basic idea that people will wear it in the same way they wear earrings."
Freescale Semiconductor introduces the smallest ever ARM based microcontroller (MCU) they made for embedded devices for Internet of Things Market: Kinetsis KL03. The MCU is as smaller than a golf ball dimple.
Rajeev Kumar, director of worldwide marketing and business development for Freescale's Microcontrollers business said,"When size is no longer a barrier to incorporating microcontrollers into edge node devices, we can start to redefine what's possible for the Internet of Things. We see the miniaturization of MCUs as a key driver of IoT evolution. With the groundbreaking form factors of the new Kinetis KL03, systems designers for edge node products now have the technology they need to develop entirely new product categories capable, quite literally, of changing the world."
Last year we heard lots of rumors and saw several leaks surrounding a Google Nexus-branded smartwatch, but nothing ever came to fruition and the Nexus smartwatch never appeared. Today website, Android Police, has posted leaked photos which are said to be of the ill-fated Nexus wearable, but I remain skeptical. If true this had to have been a very early prototype or proof-of-concept type thing and nothing near a finished Nexus product.
The images depict a smartwatch that appears to be very bulky in design with a band that better fits a $10 Timex watch from the 90's rather than a ultra-modern intelligent wearable that one would expect from Google's Nexus division. The band does have one cool feature though in the form of a built-in USB data and charging port. Little clues are available to say for certain that these leaked images are the Nexus GEM though, and even the single image of the device powered on shows little useful information. Even the menu item "3 Bit Mode Apps" is useless as a deep Google search turns up nothing.
We do know that Google and LG are working together to bring a Nexus smartwatch to the market, but this device is most certainly not it. It does somewhat resemble Motorola's ACTV sports watch though, and could be an early prototype of that device, or even a fresh prototype of the smartwatch it has confirmed its working on right now. Whatever the case, lets hope that the end result of both Google and Motorola's upcoming wearables are more refined this this as they have some stiff competition from LG and Samsung to contend with.
MWC 2014 - During a panel discussion in Barcelona this week, Motorola senior vice president, Rick Osterloh, says that the company is planning on launching a new smartwatch later this year. The wearable device is said to address issues consumers have with current smartwatch models on the market and will improve on style and battery life. It is unknown what the smartwatch may look like, but we are willing to bet that Motorola will steer clear of its MotoACTV design that saw less than stellar sales since its launch.
This news comes as a surprise, especially since the company is in the midst of a transition of ownership phase between Google and its new owners, Lenovo. From a business standpoint, the announcement does make some sense though as smartwatches and other wearable technology are at the forefront of consumer spending, a market which is dominated by LG, Pebble, and Samsung at the moment. Let's just hope that Motorola can pull it off this time under the leadership of Lenovo.
When I started at TweakTown over three years ago, I never thought I'd type the words "Snoop Dogg" into a title, or body of any article I was writing... well, that day has come. It has come courtesy of Avegant, who took to Kickstarter to crowdfund its Glyph Beta.
Glyph, is a new head-mounted display that is expected to be released in Q1 2015. Snoop Dogg, the uber famous rapper, has tried out Glyph, giving it his seal of approval. The display itself flips down from a headphone-like position, which is something Avegant calls a "virtual retinal display" which allows users to connect a bunch of different devices to it for instant video access.
The company were after $250,000 in funding, but ended up with over $1.5 million. Snoop Dogg saw the Avegant Glyph on CNN, and reached out to the company to test it out. He gave a shout out to Avegant, and the company's COO, Yobie Benjamin, on Twitter: "Shout out to my homie @yobie for showing me what everyone's going to jump on @Avegant - Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg) February 20, 2014".
A new report from CNET is suggesting that LG has been chosen as the OEM to manufacturer the company's Nexus-branded smartwatch, and that the device will be unveiled at the Mountain View company's I/O conference in June. Furthermore, the report went on to state that Google will be unveiling more details on the device well before the conference kicks off to give developers time to create apps for the device.
The decision to chose LG is no surprise at all as Google is quite pleased with the company's partnership with LG to manufacturer the Nexus 5 smartphone as well as its predecessor, the Nexus 4. The report says that just like it did with other Nexus devices, Google will head up all sales, marketing, and media on the device, leaving LG the task of making the hardware the best it can possibly be. The Nexus smartwatch will arrive just in time to rival Samsung's new Gear 2, Apples iWatch, and even HTC's upcoming wearable. Unfortunately, unless Google and LG make something amazing, I still do not see the smartwatch making it past the novelty stage in the market.
MWC 2014 - Sony unveiled two great looking devices today at MWC 2014, the Xperia Z2 smartphone and Xperia Z2 Tablet, but the fitness tracking market just saw an entry from the Japanese giant. Introducing the Sony SmartBand.
Sony's SmartBand is powered by the company's new Core fitness tracker, which will come with a Lifelog app. Sony's new wearable will track your physical activity and movements throughout the day, but the Lifelog app is where things change. Sony's Lifelog app will save the places you visit, songs you've listened to, games you've played, books you've read, and much more.
This is referred to by Sony as the SmartWear Experience, with the SmartBand being the start of this new wearable journey for the company. The SmartBand is waterproof, is capable of measuring your sleep cycle, waking you up at the ideal time each morning, and will notify you of incoming calls, and activity coming in from social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
MWC 2014 - Huawei has taken the wraps off of its new smartband, the TalkBand B1. The Huawei TalkBand B1 features a 1.4-inch flexible OLED display that supports wireless calling.
There's a removable earpiece inside of the TalkBan B1, which is why it is 14.6mm thick. It also has plenty of fitness tracking abilities, where it will record how many steps you've taken, how far you've traveled, and just how many calories you've burned. There's also a sleeping pattern monitor which will keep track of you snoozing away at night, as well as a smart alarm function which will wake you up at the right time.
NFC is featured for pairing, with the internal 90mAh battery good for around six days of use. There's no word on pricing, but the B1 will launch in China next month, with Japan, the Middle East, Russia and Western Europe having to wait until Q2 2014 to get their hands, or wrists, on the TalkBand B1.
We've heard about Sony's VR headset quite a few times now, but it looks like we'll see the Japanese electronics giant unveil its PlayStation 4 virtual reality headset at the 2014 Game Developers Conference next month in San Francisco.
TechRadar has an "inside source" who told them that Sony's VR headset is coming along well, with the source saying: "The quality and resolution are really, really good. People will definitely be impressed with what Sony's built". Sony was expected to unveil its VR headset earlier, but the company wanted extra time on the device before it officially unveils it.
The source added: "Sony has deliberately taken its time to tweak and polish the headset before revealing it". Sony already has a few VR headsets, but this new device is made purely for gaming. VR gaming will be big business in the years to come, so Sony arriving on the market first with a consumer VR device will be a big bragging point for the company.
Mobile World Congress 2014 - Mobile World Congress 2014 kicks off in just a matter of hours, but Samsung has jumped the gun announcing two new smartwatches. The two new smartwatches don't feature the word "Galaxy" in their name, they're just known as Gear 2, and Gear 2 Neo.
Samsung has opted to drop Google's mobile OS Android, in favor of Tizen, something we thought would happen. The new smartwatches don't only feature Samsung's open-source OS, but they will feature revamped hardware, too.
The front-facing camera has been moved from the face of the smartwatch into the strap on the body itself, an IR port is provided so that it turns the Gear 2 smartwatches into a full living room remote. As for hardware, we have a 1.63-inch 320x320 Super AMOLED display, single-core processor at 1GHz, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of on-board flash.
We reported about Google working on its own smartwatch all the way back in August of last year, but it looks like the Mountain View-based search giant is reaching the launching point of its new smartwatch.
TechCrunch is reporting that Google will "officially" begin shipping its smartwatch sometime in the second half of next month, but members from within Google's smartwatch team say that the date will be pushed back until June. Alternatively, Google could launch the smartwatch early, without its full feature set, which would be unfortunate.
According to people familiar with the matter, an early version of Google's smartwatch featured a metal band, square face, colorful digital display with a gradient background where colors gently fade from one to the other. Google will reportedly ship its smartwatch with a plastic band versus a metal band, like the Pebble Steel, but it is just one of the many prototypes the company is working on.
Startup founder Cuff recently launched a wearables product line that is more fashionable and appealing, hopefully to cater to customers looking for functional, visually appealing products.
Included in the Cuff collection are bracelets, necklaces, and key chains that look like something from a women's magazine as opposed to a geeky tech magazine. The products range in price from $50 up to $150 and are currently only available with Apple iOS 6 or newer - no Google Android support is available, and will roll out a custom app once Android has stable Bluetooth 4.0 support, according to the company.
Wearables have tremendous potential for the enterprise and consumer markets, but the industry still has multiple challenges to overcome. Companies are focusing more on the enterprise wearable market at the moment, but technology breakthroughs should trickle into consumer markets as familiarity and stability increase.
(From right to left: Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO; Paul Travers, Vuzix CEO; Fred Ishii, Iron CIty Micro Display founder; Mark Spitzer, Google X Director of Operations; and Jessica Lessin, moderator)
During the recent Kopin Wearable Technology Launch Event in Santa Clara, California, panelists spoke during a round table discussion and shared their views on what needs to change for the future of wearables to accelerate even faster.
"Miniaturization is hugely important - and second to that, bringing down cost (is important)," said Bruce Hawver, SteelSeries CEO, during a panel discussion at the Kopin press event. "Consumers are now more aware and willing to adopt it. Technology is now pervasive in our lives and users look for easier ways to access it."
With the 2014 Mobile World Congress just around the corner, some of the major players behind the scenes in the mobile device world are beginning to release info on what can be found under the hood of the next-generation devices we will see showcased next week. Broadcom has just unveiled its newest System on Chip (SoC), that is designed for the smartwatch segment of the market.
The new BCM4771 GNSS System on Chip is designed to fix some of the power-hungry issues with GPS on current SoCs on the market. Built on a 40nm process, the chip features a new GPS sensor hub that us designed to not only shrink the component size, but greatly reduce the power draw of the device when used in applications where a small battery may be the only option. This comes in quite handy for devices like smartwatches and smart glasses, where batteries are typically in the 300-500mAh range. Broadcom says the device will launch in late March and will arrive in retail devices by the end of the summer.
The original Oculus Rift development kit (or DK1) is no longer being manufactured by Oculus VR, with the company out of the necessary materials to produce more Rift DK1 units, according to a post on the /r/Oculus section of Reddit.
Oculus VR is "looking for alternate sources for the needed components", but doesn't have a time frame of when additional Rift units will be made available. The company will sell out of its inventory in each region, but once this happens it will halt sales in that particular region until it can deliver new orders to consumers.
Right now, Oculus VR is only selling and shipping Rift DK1 units to the following countries:
- United States
- Countries in the European Union
- South Korea
Not so surprisingly, /r/Oculus poster 'cybereality' said: "We never expected to sell so many development kits and VR only made this much progress with the community's support and enthusiasm. Even though we never wanted to sell out, it's a good problem to have -- Thank you!"
Mobile World Congress 2014 kicks off in Barcelona, Spain next week, and the latest rumor is that HTC will unveil a smartwatch at the event. The device in question would be powered by Qualcomm internals.
Considering Qualcomm has its own smarwatch in the Qualcomm Toq, this would be an interesting move for the struggling Taiwanese company to pull off. Bloomberg is behind the report, which states that the company might also show off a second smartwatch that would use the amazing powers of Google Now, as well as an "electronic bracelet that plays music". Next week should be quite hot with mobile and wearable devices, that's for sure!