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Virtual reality and augmented reality hardware and software products are changing the way users interact in the living room and at the PC. The Oculus Rift, Avegant Glyph, and smart glasses might get a lot of the attention from gamers, but VR and AR create potential for so many business and enterprise apps.
Smart glasses are being used as training tools for industry decision makers trying to embrace new technologies and cut prices, as the military, medical, and biotech companies show interest in VR.
As VR hardware continues to evolve, the bundled software also provides great opportunities for consumers and business users. Sixense's MakeVR 3D modeling software, which needs a 3D multi-touch interface, pushes the boundaries of the type of software that can be developed in the future. The MakeVR Kickstarter reached $56,000 of its $250,000 goal just three days after launch.
Moving forward, Oculus, Sony, Vuzix, Recon Instruments, Google, Meta, GlassUp, and other companies are helping drive innovation.
Pyle Audio, best known for its car, home and competition audio equipment, recently released its Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Watch (PSBTHR70) for consumers trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. The device can store 10 workouts or 100 lap records, easily transfer workout data to smartphones and Bluetooth-enabled devices, and will include overall distance covered.
Google Android and Apple iOS users can send workout data to services such as MapMyRun, RunKeeper or WahooFitness automatically. The Pyle Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Watch is available now for $69.99 MSRP, available in blue, black, green or pink.
"We've long been providing customers with high-quality home, pro and car audio products," said Abe Brach, Pyle Audio Vice President, in a press statement. "It was the natural next step to bring our decades of experience with personal technology products to the health and fitness market. During any workout either on land or in water the Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor and Watch is a must have."
Casual fitness wearables will see increased growth in 2014, because the technology is becoming easier to use, while the overall price tag drops.
During a recent interview with Bloomberg, HTC's chairwoman, Cher Wang, said that the company is working on a smartwatch to bring to market in 2014, and that work on the device has been slowed from issues with its battery as well as display problems. She did go on to say that HTC will launch a smartwatch by the holiday season if everything works out from here.
"Many years ago we started looking at smart watches and wearables, but we believe that we really have to solve the battery problems and the LCD light problems. These are customer-centric problems," said Wang. She went on to echo HTC CEO in saying that the device needed to fill a specific need to be welcomed into day to day life, otherwise it would be yet another novelty gimmick. I think that HTC is doing this the right way and that taking the development process slowly will allow for a better end product and not just something that does the same stuff our smartphones and Bluetooth headsets already do.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) is currently beta testing Google Glass to see if the wearable product can help aid in criminal investigations and offer additional benefits to patrol officers.
Anyone is welcome to apply for the Google Glass Explorer Program, but testing from the NYPD and other major organizations will only help Google develop its product. However, while the NYPD is currently testing Glass, Google confirmed that it isn't actively helping the NYPD, so law enforcement will have to determine the best method to utilize the technology.
The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) also appears interested in Google Glass, as technology is increasingly embraced, with some officers already issued Samsung Galaxy S4 while out on patrol. The smartphone allows officers to easily run warrant checks and view mugshots instead of relying on police dispatch and in-vehicle systems. The SFPD hopes Google Glass will provide a similar method to easily accessing information, whether or not officers are near a patrol car.
During an interview with USA Today, John Carmack said that before he joined virtual reality outfit Oculus, he proposed a deal to both Oculus and ZeniMax Media - the parent company of id Software.
Carmack said that he would've joined the worlds of of ZeniMax's games, like the upcoming Wolfenstein: The New Order and Doom 4 to the Oculus Rift. Carmack said: "It would have been a huge win. It seemed like a sensible plan for me". The companies couldn't make an agreement though, which left Carmack "really sad," to which he added: "When it became clear that I wasn't going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR while at id Software, I decided to not renew my contract".
Since November last year Carmack has been working full-time at Oculus VR, where he developing games for the Rift.
We continue to hear about Apple's iWatch, but nothing has materialized just yet - but this latest tease could make the iWatch stand out from the wearable crowd if it turns out to be true. The latest rumors, according to a report by The New York Times, could see the iWatch featuring new charging methods.
These charging methods include solar, inductive and motion charging - which could see the iWatch charged through charging pads, the Sun, or even the movement of your arm as you walk, or run. Apple's wearable device would still be in the prototype stage, but the company has hired a bunch of engineers that could see it become a reality sooner, rather than later. A change in the way it is charged could really change how people look at wearable devices.
It looks like both Acer and ASUS are preparing to enter the wearable device market, according to a report from Focus Taiwan. ASUS' chairman, Jonney Shih, said on Tuesday at ASUS' end-of-year party: "We will put our entire design thought into it. There are actually many challenges in this area, and I don't think products that lack special features will be useful. We'll try to replace your watch by all means". ASUS will most likely debut its smartwatch at Computex 2014 in Taiwan, in June.
What about Acer? It will launch its wearable devices in the second half of the year, with the company working on a wearable device that will have an option for a necklace-style piece.
Focus Taiwan adds that the wearable devices market will grow to $20.6 billion by 2018, with 191 million units shipped worldwide.
Google today confirmed its Google Glass will support prescription glasses, which has been the most requested feature by potential customers. As Google prepares to publicly launch Glass on a wide scale before the end of the year, providing prescription and additional fashion models will help entice customers that were sitting on the fence.
"This marks the next phase in the evolution of Glass as we move towards a wider consumer launch later in 2014," Google noted in a recently posted FAQ.
Vision care insurance provider VSP will also include Glass prescriptions, anticipating wider adoption of the next-generation wearable product. The Titanium line will include curve, split, bold and thin frame shapes, available for $225 each. Google is teaming up with Maui Jim to include Glass sunglasses, and consumers can expect to pay $150 for the sunglasses version.
As wearable electronics are expected take off over the next few years, Google hopes to help mold the industry as an early adopter of the technology. Partnering with insurance providers, sunglasses makers, and traditional glasses frame manufacturers should help give consumers a wider variety of different products to choose from.
Back in 2013, we saw wearable tech really take the center stage and bloom into an entire new industry, with smart watches, exercise bands, and even smart glasses launching. 2014 is poised to take wearable technology to the next level, and if a new product being developed in Japan is any indication, wearables are going to get much more personal in the very near future.
Pictured above is the "True Love Tester" bra, a piece of smart lingerie that is designed to thwart off sneaky companions who might try to unhook its clasps covertly while its wearer is distracted. Unfortunately, that task is much harder with a smart-bra than it is with traditional underwear. The True Love Tester bra features sensors that feed back information on its wearers heart rate to a smartphone which analyzes the data and will only release the clasps if the heart rate signature indicate "true love."
The accompanying app is able to discern from other strenuous, heart rate elevating activities such as running, shopping, eating spicy food, or even getting frightened while watching a scary movie. While this all sounds cool, the app does not simply release a locking mechanism on the bra, it apparently flings the cups open with much gusto, which means that technology like this could provide for some interesting scenarios when worn in public with ones significant other near by.
A new report from the Korean Times is suggesting that we might see Samsung release a direct competitor to Google's Project Glass before the end of the year. The report states that an unnamed Samsung official has confirmed that the company is currently working on a smart glasses product similar to Google Glass, and that it could arrive as early as September of this year pending any delays.
With smart glasses quickly becoming bigger than smart watches were in 2014, Samsung would be crazy to overlook the potential they have to brand yet another wearable electronic with its Galaxy brand. The Korean Times report states that Galaxy Glass would feature functionality almost identical to that of the Galaxy Gear, and would connect to a users smartphone and would let users make calls, search the internet, and record video. This is of course very similar to Google Glass, and I would not rule out a lawsuit down the road from either company claiming IP violations. Either way, competition in the smart glasses world is only a good thing for the consumer, and could drive down the currently sky-high prices.