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Wearable supporters promote fitness trackers and smartwatches as valuable tools to help monitor physical activity and general health - but a new study found that most smartphone applications are just as accurate, according to researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
During a trial conducted at Penn, participants wore the following: a pedometer and two accelerometers, three wearable devices, and two smartphones (one with three apps and the other smartphone running one app. Smartphone data apps tracked step counts that were similar to one another, while the wearables provided greater variance.
"In this study, we wanted to address one of the challenges with using wearable devices: they must be accurate," said Meredith Case, Penn medical student and study author. "After all, if a device is going to be effective at monitoring - and potentially changing - behavior, individuals have to be able to trust the data. We found that smartphone apps are just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity."
Out of the 4.6 million wearable devices shipped across 2014, only 720,000 of them were powered by Android Wear according to analyst firm, Canalys.
According to Canalys' data, the Moto 360 was the most popular wearable on the market. But out of those 4.6 million, Google must be feeling the pain that its Android Wear OS only powered 720,000 of those units, as it faces heavy competition from Pebble, and Samsung's Gear range of smartwatches, which runs Samsung's own OS.
Xiaomi shipped over 1 million units of its Mi Smartband, which is something Canalys puts down to its unique marketing campaign. LG's G Watch R had a nice sales boost over the holidays, with Samsung not igniting the wearable world as much as it most likely hoped to.
Mobile traffic is set to boom over the next few years, with wearable devices becoming more prevalent - and increasingly relying on mobile data. The wearable market will increase from 109 million in 2014 up to 578 million by 2019, according to Cisco, which will increase the amount of mobile data being used.
There will be an increase in smartwatches with the launch of the Apple Watch later this year, while other rival devices continue to hit the consumer market. The Apple Watch needs to be paired to an iPhone to transmit data, though smartphones already use six times the amount of data when compared to a normal mobile phone.
Of the 11.5 billion predicted mobile connections by 2019, 8.3 billion will be smartphones, tablets, laptops and other personal mobile devices - and those devices will rely on a mix of cellular data and Wi-Fi.
GDC 2015 isn't too far away now, with John Carmack announcing that he will be speaking about "The Dawn of Mobile VR" on March 4, for at least 1.5 hours (or longer, knowing Carmack).
The CTO of Oculus VR and co-founder of id Software will be talking about the technical aspects of seeing mobile VR turn into a reality, from techniques and strategies for maximizing the quality of your VR games, applications and experiences, to his thoughts on the future of VR, as well as what it means for the mobile ecosystem.
After "The Dawn of Mobile VR" session, there will be a Q&A session that will last until "all questions are answered or everyone is chased out", so if you're at GDC 2015 and want to ask the legendary John Carmack a question, there's your chance. Carmack is hoping that game developers will not only walk away with a better understanding of mobile VR, but the techniques and strategies for developing mobile VR content, and what the future of consumer VR might end up being.
Wearable hardware continues a rapid evolution, and now requires better software able to make use of the data, according to Pebble.
"The hardware is out there," said Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble Technology, in a statement published by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. "It works; it's durable and long-lasting. The conversation can now shift from just being hardware to being, 'What am I going to do with this? How does communication change? How can I accomplish things during my day?'"
Migicovsky's company has focused on developing hardware for the past seven years, but there is now more focus on software development. Sixty of the team's 130-employee workforce is now made up of software engineers, he said.
Something that most of us had taken for granted when in school, was wearing a watch, these days with wearable computing, you have to think twice. Just like some schools are now.
BuzzFeed News is reporting that many universities are issuing blanket bans on all watches during exams, just in case some of them are wearing wearables to cheat during exams. London's City University has said that it "wouldn't be practical" to have people checking every students watch to see if it was an analog, or smartwatch.
Pebble has sold more than 1 million smartwatches since launch, with the milestone reached on December 31, as the company's price cuts apparently helped do the trick. The Pebble smartwatch saw a price reduction down to $99, while the Steel model received a price cut down to $199 in September - and consumers were more willing to splurge.
To help build on its success, Pebble will release a new software platform and additional smartwatch products to compete with growing competition. Specifically, the company has a new software framework that it hopes will appeal to consumers and app designers:
"We've found a new framework to use as an interaction model on the watch," said Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble, in a statement to The Verge. "It doesn't look like what we have today, and it doesn't look like what's on your smartphone."
Apple is preparing for the launch of its first wearable next month, requesting some of its developers to have their Watch apps ready by mid-February for the big launch.
The company is asking their high profile app developers and close partners to have their Watch-compatible iPhone apps ready to go in the App Store by the middle of February. Even though Watch isn't due until April, Apple is most likely wanting to get things prepared with plenty of time left for testing. Not only that, the apps could be used for promotional material, something we can expect Apple to push in the very near future.
Feeling a little bored up there in first-class? Major Australian airline Qantas will now be utilizing the help of the Samsung Gear VR with an accompanied Galaxy Note 4 to see their first-class customers further enjoy their experience.
It will be first tested through LA to Sydney and Melbourne to LA flights, said to be completed through the use of Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s. 12 Gear VR headsets will be used in the beginning test period, set as four for the outbound flight, four for the inbound flight and two for each of the first-class passenger lounges located in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Gear VR device will be connected to a Qantas app on the Note 4, allowing passengers to get a 360-degree look into the Qantas first-class lounge in LAX, runway-side videos of the aircraft taking off and setting down and a virtual reality boat ride on a Northern Territory river - set as a cross promotion with Tourism NT.
We've already been warned of one major issue with smartwatch usage - Not only do the manufacturers all seemingly list a nightly-charge routine, but it seems likely that these devices will barely last a full working day idling without requiring a charging cable to be used.
Obviously this isn't optimal, with users often charging their smartphones daily alongside other portable devices including tablets. Apple have been reportedly aiming for a 19-hour window, alongside 2.5 to 4 hours when in constant use. This is a stark contrast to ASUS, who are apparently going to use a simplified chipset and mobile operating system to ensure extended use.
ASUS chairman Jonney Shih has proudly stated "the ZenWatch is defined by us as a companion of a smartphone, and we think it still has a lot of room for improvement," further commenting that "as a companion device, its central processing unit and operating system should be more simplified than the current version, so that I can use it for up to seven days on one charge, rather than for just two days."