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The wearable computing market is expected to boom over the next four years, with an estimated 19.2 million units shipped in 2014 up to 112 million in 2018, according to research firm IDC. Manufacturers are using a mix of complex accessories, smart accessories, and smart wearables to help garner interest from consumers, including the use of products such as Nike+, Fitbit, and Google Glass to gain attention.
Looking ahead, casual consumers will find a variety of affordable, functional wearables that can be used for everything from fitness bands to communication devices for mobile phones and smartphones. The new generation of wearables often are designed to operate independently of other devices, though can be easily paired to smartphones, tablets, PCs, and other electronics - a trend that will continue in the future.
"Complex accessories have succeeded in drawing much-needed interest and attention to a wearables market that has had some difficulty gaining traction," said Ramon Llamas, IDC Mobile Phones Research Manager, in a statement. "The increased buzz has prompted more vendors to announce their intentions to enter this market. Most importantly, end-users have warmed to their simplicity in terms of design and functionality, making their value easy to understand and use."
The wearable game just got very hot, with Google announcing it will sell its Glass headset starting April 15, but what about Apple's place in the wearable market? New rumors of its iWatch suggest that we could see two versions of Apple's smartwatch released, including a high-end version that would cost thousands of dollars.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is usually on the ball with most Apple rumors, said in a research note to clients on Thursday morning that Apple was preparing two iWatch models for this year. The first of which would be a smaller 1.3-inch device for people with smaller wrists, and another model that would feature a 1.5-inch screen.
Both models would feature a flexible AMOLED display with sapphire crystal display covers. Kuo said that Apple's iWatch would have a host of sensors that would monitor multiple things like motion, heart rate and more. The analyst noted the iWatch would have deep integration with iPhone and iPad, and would include an NFC chip, wireless charging capabilities, and a "fashionable appearance".
Kuo wrote to his clients: "Fashion is the name of the game; most expensive model likely priced at several thousand US dollars. Referring to the rules of the fashion market, we predict the iWatch casing and band will come in various materials. The most expensive model of the iWatch line will carry a price tag of several thousand US dollars". Kuo forecasts that Apple will sell some 5.5 million units of its iWatch this year, ramping up to somewhere between 30 million to 50 million in 2015.
It looks like Google is pushing up the release of its Glass headset, where it will begin selling the wearable device to consumers on April 15. The search giant will make Glass available to the US public for a limited time, starting Tuesday.
Google hasn't said just how many Glass units it will make available, but the quantity would be very limited. The company said in a blog post: "Every day we get requests from those of you who haven't found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too. That's why next Tuesday, April 15th, we'll be trying our latest and biggest Explorer Program expansion experiment to date. We'll be allowing anyone in the U.S. to become an Explorer by purchasing Glass".
Most people, myself included, expected Google to push Glass out later in the year - so this feels like an extension of the Explorer program, and not the real consumer version. I'm expecting the real release to be much more powerful in terms of hardware, something the current Glass device lacks.
The United States Air Force has been testing out Google's popular, but still not available Glass headset for military use. VentureBeat is reporting that the Battlefield Air Targeting Man-Aided (K)nowledge (BATMAN) research team is excited over the possibilities of Glass in the battlefield.
The reasons behind this is thanks to Google Glasses and "its low power, its low footprint, it sits totally above the eyes, and doesn't block images or hinder vision". 2nd Lt. Anthony Eastin, a Behavioral Scientist on the team said: "The goal is to build software for research purposes for future endeavors".
Soldiers equipped with Glass on the battlefield would be capable of accessing important information quicker than before, which would remove the requirement of lugging around laptops and other much less portable electronics. Glass isn't the exact answer to all of the military's problems, but for $1500, it definitely is a cheap (at least for the military) alternative.
Developer Diego Araos has used a Parrot AR drone mixed with the virtual reality goodness of Oculus Rift, to use head movements to control his aerial drone. The video below shows it all.
Depending on Araos' tilting his sight and head, the drone moves to his movements. The project, according to the video's description, is "open source and a fork of another of my projects drone-swarm (to control several AR Drones within one network)". You can actually download Araos' creation on GitHub, if you so happen to own both products required.
When I first saw the Samsung Gear Fit device, one of the things that bothered me most about it was that the content on the screen was shown in horizontal orientation only. That's not exactly ideal for viewing in all situations when you are wearing the device on your wrist.
I'm not the only one that bothered with Samsung announced that the Gear Fit has been updated with a new option that lets the content on its little screen be offered in a vertical orientation. Having the content on the screen in a normal watch orientation will definitely make it easier to use.
The feature was reportedly confirmed as available on a Gear Fit on display in the official Samsung Store in South Korea. There is no word on when the update will roll out to other countries. If you have the update or the ability to view content on the screen in vertical orientation let us know.
Samsung started taking pre orders on its new wearable devices, the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit not long ago. The wearable products all have compatibility with certain Samsung smartphones and offer fitness tracking tech and smartphone notifications. The most feature packed of the devices is the Gear 2.
The gang at iFixit has taken a new Gear 2 and torn the smartwatch apart to see what it looks like on the inside and to get an idea what it would take to fix the device. We know the Gear 2 is waterproof and that waterproofing comes in the form of a gasket between the two halves of the case and around each of the screw holes.
One of the good things the teardown found was an easily removable battery. If that battery stops taking a charge you can open the case and replace it with no trouble at all. In fact, one of the only parts that isn't easy to take apart is the LCD assembly. It looks like that entire assembly has to be replaced in one piece if you break a screen. The overall repairability score for the watch is 8 out of 10.
LG has already unveiled its Android Wear-powered G Watch, but now we're hearing some more information on LG's wearable device. LG talked its G Watch with Pocket-lint, where it showed the site a non-working prototype of the G Watch, but in its final design.
Pocket-lint wrote: "As the original mock-up pictures, already revealed by LG suggested, there will be no buttons on the device at all. The design offered a solid, seamless build that wasn't heavy but certainly felt premium". The Android Wear-powered smartwatch will arrive with interchangeable straps, which should have people impressed.
All we know so far is that the G Watch will be powered by Google's Android Wear platform, with more details shared at Google I/O in June.
Oculus VR is ramping up its Rift DK2 unit, which features a 1920x1080 display inside of the VR headset. GameFace Labs is a company you may not have heard of, but it has just announced that it is the first company to show off a prototype VR headset with a 2.5K display.
2.5K is just a fancy way of saying 2560x1440, where at this resolution, it is pushing out 78% more pixels than a 1080p-based display, such as the Oculus Rift DK2. Ed Mason, CEO of GameFace Labs explains: "The upgrade to 1280 x 1440 per eye is monumental. Individual pixels are hard to detect at first glance, making it a more immersive and comfortable experience in every single game and experience that we've tried. A lot of the 'presence' described by devs at the Valve [prototype VR headset] demonstration can be attributed to their use of higher resolution (and lower persistence) panels, which has a noticeable impact in suspending disbelief and tricking the brain".
Better yet, the company is just stopping at 2.5K, as it wants to get one of the most powerful mobile solutions into its VR headset, making mobile VR a reality. This is actually something I talked about Oculus VR doing, but it seems that GameFace Labs is the one we should be watching. The company is rubbing up against NVIDIA's very impressive Tegra K1 aka Jetson, which is a super powerful system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution that has a quad-core processor running at 2.3GHz with a 192-core GPU.
The rumors about the Apple iWatch will never end until the product launches. Even then, the rumors will only transition to what the next version of the device will have. A new iWatch rumor is making the rounds that claims the iWatch might have a UV light exposure sensor. That would allow the iWatch to monitor for risk of sunburn.
The rumor suggests that the sensor would come from Silicon Labs. That company announced an interesting sensor with a host of functions earlier this year. Other than monitoring UV light exposure the chip can also track heart rate, pulse, blood oximetry, and supports proximity and gesture control with infrared and ambient light methods.
Despite being packed with features this chip is surprisingly small at 2mm square. Rumors continue to suggest that the iWatch will ship later this year with as many as 10 million units selling in 2014. A rumor in February suggested that the iWatch would feature solar, induction, and motion charging.