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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has largely been hands-off in regards to regulation of the upcoming Apple Watch smartwatch wearable.
Silicon Valley companies are interested in providing wearables and other technology that encroaches on health care - and the FDA is offering feedback when appropriate. However, Apple Watch and other solutions are still in their infancy, so the FDA won't need to intervene in the immediate future.
"We are taking a very light touch, an almost hands-off approach," said Bakul Patel, associate director for digital health at the FDA, while speaking with Bloomberg Business. "If you have technology that's going to motivate a person to stay healthy, that's not something we want to be engaged in."
The wearables market is evolving as new vendors, devices and consumer knowledge help push the industry forward.
Manufacturers will ship 45.7 million units this year, a 133.4 percent growth from 19.6 million units year-over-year, according to the IDC research group. In addition, shipment volumes will reach 126.1 million units by 2019 - as more consumers show faith in adopting wearables.
"The explosion of wearable devices was clearly led by fitness bands, which until recently commanded prices that provided comfortable margins, but those days are changing," said Ryan Reith, program director of the IDC worldwide quarterly device trackers program. "The price of these fitness bands have come down so significantly in some markets that smartphone OEMs are now bundling them with smartphones at little cost."
Wearable maker Fitbit understands the entire wearables industry will be strongly shaken up with the upcoming Apple Watch smartwatch - but is taking a glass half-full approach, welcoming the Silicon Valley giant.
"I think the more important thing for any emerging category is consumer awareness. That's the biggest barrier to success," said James Park, CEO of Fitbit, in an interview with Washington Post. "Anyone - especially a large company - comes in and is able to raise the level of consumer awareness. It's great for everybody."
Fitbit has worked to improve the comfort of its products, while also improving battery life and other hardware functionality.
Researchers from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, are developing fabric chips that use wearable sensors to help collect medical data. Scientific data will be collected from sweat, blood, phlegm, environmental pollutants and other metrics, so researchers can look for chemical workers.
Fabric chips have proven to be effective as a way to analyze select chemicals already, and there are a growing number of potential uses. The fabric chip is made by encasing silk in brass, and then treating it with silver nanoparticles - and can track biomarker vibrations - opening the door to practical uses.
"We would like to be able to detect biomarkers of tuberculosis," said Christa Brosseau, associate professor chemistry at Saint Mary's University, in a statement to the CBC. "The idea is you could have a fabric chip built into a handkerchief and they could cough into this handkerchief and then it could be easily analyzed."
The Pebble Kickstarter campaign has ended, and it looks like people are firmly behind the smartwatch wearable company. Most of the generated $20.3 million in funding came from pre-orders of the Pebble Time smartwatch, which customers can expect to begin receiving in May.
It took only 49 minutes to raise $1 million, smashing the first Kickstarter record, and became the best funded campaign one week later - receiving $13.3 million total.
"We cannot thank the Pebble community enough for their monumental support," said Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble. "We continue to listen to and be inspired by the backers who believed in us and supported our vision from day one."
Ever since Valve and HTC announced their partnership on the Vive headset, I've been itching to try it, but it has eluded me for now. Now we have news that developers will be able to secure themselves the SteamVR headset for free, at least for now.
Valve spokesperson Doug Lombardi talked with Ars Technica, where he said that the developer kits will be given to developers for free in its early stages, with developers of any size able to sign up. The developer kits will begin shipping in the spring, with a retail availability of later in the year.
UNICEF wants kids to be more active and healthier, and has launched its Kid Power program to promote healthy lifestyles for children in the United States. The program is currently underway in Boston, New York City and Dallas, and will be expanded to additional cities in 2016.
As part of the program, each child tracks his or her steps using a wearable, and when 12,000 steps in one day has been hit, UNICEF donates a nutrition pack. UNICEF also wants to educate American children about malnutrition and how it impacts children in other parts of the world.
"One in four American kids is underactive - they're little couch potatoes," said Caryl Stern, US Fund for UNICEF. "And one in four children around the world has some level of malnourishment, and so we are trying to get the kids who are underactive healthy and active."
We really don't know when to expect the Consumer Version 1 (CV1) of the Oculus Rift, but according to Facebook, we should expect the Facebook-owned company to release the first retail Oculus Rift headset later this year.
The news is coming from Facebook's annual F8 developers conference, where Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said that the social network is working on VR, and showed off a space shooter game. He said: "You're going to be able to play incredible games in VR later this year". Schroepfer also added that Facebook wants to bring people together with VR, where he said that in around ten years you'll be able to join your friends and family in birthday celebration by "being there" in VR.
The LG G Watch Urbane is one of the slickest wearables unveiled in the last couple of months, but the new LTE-powered version of the watch will soon be made available, with a huge $590 cost.
It might not be as much as what Apple is asking for its Watch, and the $10,000 Watch, but it's quite expensive compared to Pebble Time at $179, Motorola's Moto 360 for $249, and Apple's Watch starting at $349. The G Watch Urbane is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 400 clocked at 1.2GHz, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of internal storage. There'll also be LTE connectivity in the LTE-powered version, which will allow wearers to make and receive phone calls without having to tether to their smartphone.
Leap Motion has teamed up with Razer for its OSVR headsets, where it will supply its motion-tracking technology directly into the Open Source Virtual Reality headset.
Razer's upcoming Hacker Development Kit (HDK) headset for OSVR will be made available later this year, where developers will have the option of buying one with the faceplate that feature's Leap Motion's gesture-tracking hardware and software baked inside. Developers who opt for this will receive a bundle that includes the ability to create apps and experiences that will use Leap Motion's hand-tracking technology.
Leap Motion's CEO, Michael Buckwald, has said that this partnership is just the first it will have with VR headset makers. Buckwald was coy on which other partners it is working with, but teased that Leap Motion's long-term goal is to have their technology in as many of the leading VR headsets as possible. Buckwald said: "The peripheral [the Leap Motion controller as a standalone device] is still our biggest business but VR is our priority now. We can be in at the ground floor and help shape what it means to have input and help shape what the [VR] operating systems look like".