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A growing number of police agencies are adopting body cameras that officers wear while on patrol, providing a better account of what happens during interactions with the public. The cameras, about the size of a pack of cigarettes and worn on an officer's chest, can record at angles civilian cell phones and police cruiser in-dash cams can miss.
"In a couple of decades... every public safety employee, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, everybody will have them," said Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) chief. "I think it improves behavior on both sides of the camera, which is our goal."
In addition to police officers behaving more appropriately, citizens - and potential suspects - could behave better if they know they are being recorded. However, there are privacy concerns because police officers are not required to inform people if they are recording.
We are finally learning more about Apple's first wearable, Watch, as the company has released its WatchKit for developers to tinker with. We now know that third-party apps will require a connected iPhone in order to work, as the processing for Watch is offloaded to the iPhone, with the Watch just rendering the result.
Apple's WatchKit also revealed some animations being pre-rendered as an image sequence on the iPhone, before it is blasted up to the Watch for display. We also don't know what will happen if your iPhone disconnects from Watch while you're looking at it, as the Watch apps are installed to the wearable by "your existing app" found on your iPhone. The documentation does state that Apple will support "fully-native" Watch apps in the future, but this won't happen until this time next year.
One thing we know for sure, is that the Watch will come in two different display resolutions; 272x340 for the 38mm Watch, and the 312x390 for 42mm version. Apple won't start selling its Watch until "early 2015", but it could be delayed a little later into the year yet.
The wearable electronic devices market will reach 68.1 million units in 2015, a slight drop from 70.1 million units in 2014, the Gartner research group said. The industry will take a hit as consumers consider a wider adoption of smartwatches, especially devices that can be easily paired with their Google Android or Apple iPhone smartphones.
The five most prominent fitness wearables currently on the market: wristbands, sports watches, heart rate monitors, smart garments, and other fitness monitors. While sport watches and heart rate monitors are common place, newer generation of devices are disrupting the market - but not fast enough to prevent the onslaught of smartwatches that will be released in 2015.
"Smartwatches having retail prices of $149 or more will typically have the capability to track activity and have accelerometers and gyroscopes similar to their smart wristband cousins," said Angela McIntyre, Gartner research director. "The smartwatches differ from smart wristbands in that smartwatches need to display the time and have a user interface oriented around communication. However, some smart wristbands have the ability to display and send text messages. The overlap in functionality between smart wristbands and smartwatches is expected to continue."
Intel previously unveiled the My Intelligent Communication Accessory (MICA) wearable, an expensive and stylish wearable bracelet geared towards women. MICA wearers won't need to carry a smartphone and will be able to connect to Facebook, Google, Yelp, and other online services through an AT&T data plan, and indicates Intel wants to find new ways to connect with consumers.
"We really approached this first and foremost about why would a woman want to wear this everyday, and how can it be incorporated into her wardrobe," said Humberto Leon, Intel creative director. Intel purchased wearables firm Basis earlier in 2014, as a number of hardware companies jump into the wearable market.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich had to claw its way into the smartphone and tablet markets, after losing out to ARM and other rivals, but wants to ensure it is an early adopter in the wearables market.
The Google Glass consumer wearable headset is still expected to launch in 2015, but interested buyers shouldn't hold their breath as they wait. Unfortunately for Google, it appears that some developers are jumping off the Glass bandwagon, losing faith in the high-priced wearable, as several other developers will focus more on business users.
Chris O'Neill, Google Glass head of business operations, previously had this to say: "We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launc this product until it's absolutely ready." The company still reportedly has hundreds of employees working on Glass, especially trying to drive interest in Glass Explorer, but potential consumer development remains up in the air.
Consumers have shown interest in new generations of Glass, but don't want to purchase a product that doesn't have a strong backbone of apps and third-party support. Along with losing developer support, several Glass executives left Google throughout 2014, saying the current wearable market isn't big enough to continue such high-profile work.
The Google Glass wearable could be losing support from early adopters and supporters, as Google pushed back a consumer launch. Wearables have a great opportunity for business and military use, but widespread consumer adoption could prove difficult, especially if developers are jumping ship. Nine out of 16 Glass app makers recently said they have dropped Glass-related projects, with three others shifting from consumer to business focus.
"We are completely energized and as energized as ever about the opportunity that wearables and Glass in particular represent," said Chris O'Neill, Google Glass Head of Business Operations. "We are committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launch this product until it's absolutely ready."
Whether it's Glass or some type of wrist-worn wearable, the entire wearables market receives a lot of media attention - and analysts expect the industry to develop its success in the coming years. However, software and hardware developers must be ready to invest time and money into wearables, knowing that an immediate return on investment (ROI) is unlikely.
The latest episode of South Park, if you haven't already watched it, has Cartman using the Oculus Rift. Cartman gets stuck in virtual reality, resulting in Kyle having to 'go into' VR to 'get him out'.
The compilation video above shows you all of the parts of the episode that involve the Oculus Rift, and I'm hoping that the guys and girls at Oculus have seen the episode, realizing they've just made the mainstream (even more so than they already have) hitting an episode of South Park.
Samsung is now offering developers a new wearable, Simband, which is built from the company's Gear S smartwatch. Simband offers things a little different, providing developers with a slew of sensors on the health tracker.
Simband is just one part of it, with SAMIIO being the software platform to drive the hardware side of things. The South Korean electronics giant is opening up a public beta of its platforms, to all developers to tinker around with. But don't mistake this for a product launch, because it's not - Samsung isn't selling Simband just yet, as it's just a piece of hardware for developers to work with, and build apps for.
Developers can pull the sensor array out, which is inside the band of the Simband, for their own custom boards, too. Samsung provides a massive amount of measurement options, such as: electrocardiogram (ECG), bio-impedance, (bio-z), photoplethysmogram (PPG, using those fancy LED lights on the band), galvanic skin response (GSR), accelerometer, and skin temperature. Samsung has also thrown a bunch of supplemental material on its site Voice of the Body.
Samsung is finally detailing its Oculus-powered Gear VR headset, which will be available next month in two different models. First, the Gear VR "Innovator Edition" will be priced at $250 and will include a Bluetooth controller, while the Gear VR on its own will be priced at $200.
Both of the Gear VR headsets require Samsung's Galaxy Note 4 smartphone, which is around $750 on its own. For owners of the Note 4 already, the Gear VR should be a great accessory, priced at 'only' $200.
Sony has just opened up orders for its new SmartWatch 3 on Google's Play store, with a price of $249.99. Until today, Sony was only teasing the Android Wear-powered wearable as "coming soon".
For those in the US, the SmartWatch 3 has been available through Verizon Wireless, but now it's open to Google Play, many more people can purchase it. Sony aims at more fitness on its Android Wear-powered SmartWatch 3, with a built-in GPS included - something that's a first for Android Wear.
Sony has also made its SmartWatch 3 waterproof, so you can wear it all day and night; rail, hail and shine, without worrying about it getting damaged.