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Technology manufacturers are greatly helping the medical industry by jumping into the smartwatch market, with medical statistics collected in a non-evasive manner. Samsung, Apple, Google, and other companies creating smartwatch technology hope to give customers the chance to track heart rate, calories, blood sugar, and similar data that can be quickly analyzed.
To help make it easier to implement these types of features, medical scientists are being recruited to lend a hand, while they also approach U.S. regulators asking for oversight. There is special interest in glucose monitoring, which could be a market worth more than $12 billion by 2017. There has been a 41 percent increase in diabetes over the past five years, and glucose tracking via smartwatch will help save medical patients the trouble of pricking their fingers.
During a press event to announce the Simband last month in San Francisco, Samsung heavily promoted the ability to actively and accurately track medical data.
One of the biggest Apple rumors that has been going around in the last year or so is the smartwatch rumor. A new rumor about the smartwatch has turned up with a source claiming that Apple will begin mass production of the smartwatch in July.
Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Quanta is said to be the company that will produce the smartwatch for Apple. Smartwatches have proven to be a hot category for many technology fans and so far, we have no official word from Apple on what its watch will feature, but there are plenty of rumors.
E3 2014 - Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR, has had some absolutely beautiful words to say about the world of 30FPS gaming - which seems to be the center of the console world, even with the next-gen consoles in the Xbox One and PS4.
At E3 2014, Luckey was interviewed by LinusTechTips, where they asked what Luckey what he thought about 30FPS gaming, to which he replied with a very simple, but very precise: "it's not a good artistic decision, it's a failure". Personally, I 100% agree with Luckey, and have been a huge pusher of high refresh rate screens for quite some time. For the last 5 years or more, I have run 120Hz panels for gaming, as I cannot go back to 60Hz - no matter the panel, even at 4K.
It's great to see Luckey taking a huge stab here - but that quote is just glorious. 30FPS gaming does suck, and we're not sitting here laughing at everyone who doesn't have the hardware to run it, but once you do - 60FPS (or higher) and even more, 120FPS+ is where it is at. With the right panel, and a game that can truly handle 120FPS+, it is glorious.
The VR space is definitely heating up, with Oculus VR wanting to get its Rift headset into as many consumers' hands as possible - but what about Sony's PS4-exclusive VR headset, Project Morpheus?
Well, Sony is beginning to tease the specifications inside of its VR headset, something that should arrive with a 5-inch 1920x1080-pixel panel, with 90-degrees field of view. Where it'll get interesting, is that the PS4 game that the VR headset is rendering, will have to be running at 1920x1080 - which nearly half or more of the games on PS4 do not - and at a very high frame rate.
The increased FOV also doesn't help, as there are more things to render because of the higher field of view - so Sony is going to run into a few problems here. Anton Mikhailov, an Engineer from the Magic Lab in PlayStation's R&D group has said: "It is a tricky balance between all of these things. "Essentially, for a given resolution, let's take 1080p. It's a good sweet spot for developers: 1080p/60, it's a target they understand. If you go with 1080p/60, FOV over 100°, the pixel density starts to be quite low. So it starts to be hard to read text, stuff like that. So I feel for 1080p, [FOV of] 90°, 100° is a good sweet spot. If the screen res goes up, you can start to have higher FOVs. So I think there is a balancing game there. We're trying to make the most balanced system we can".
Google I/O kicks off at the end of the month, where we should hear about a slew of new devices and services, with one of those being Google Fit. Google Fit is rumored to be Google's new health and fitness wearable device, which tracks a bunch of data about your body.
What is unknown right now, is what exactly Google Fit will do - but one thing Google could do to stand out from the rest is to introduce a set of APIs that would allow developers to get deep into, expanding the Fit's feature set. It could work like Android Wear does for smartwatches, where Fit could turn into a centralized hub for health and fitness data, trackable by its users.
This could see Fit being the central hub of health and fitness information, available on your wrist. June 25 isn't far away, where we should hopefully hear more on Google Fit.
E3 2014 - VR will be mainstream in the coming years, and with the power of Facebook behind it, Oculus VR are going to be at the center of the VR storm. But during an interview with Ars Technica, Oculus VR's CEO Brendan Iribe had some great things to say about the first consumer Oculus Rift headset, where he hopes to see "just north of 1 million units" sold.
Where will Facebook's influence in the Rift come into play? Well, it will help with the pricing of the Rift, with Iribe saying that Mark Zuckerberg wants to ignore margins wherever possible, pushing the price of the Rift down to get them into the hands of as many consumers as possible. Iribe added: "I do too. But at the same time, we were planning to run a business, hopefully a break-even [or] profitable business off of this, not a money-losing business. Mark is much more in the mindset of 'Let's get this to scale with the best quality product at the lowest cost possible".
When the second consumer Oculus Rift is ready to hit the hands of consumers, Facebook's influence will be felt much more, as "It is going to allow us to deliver a much better consumer V2, that's for sure," according to Iribe. He continued: "There's a lot of rich content being made, but we need a lot more of it. As Mark says, as you start to get to race to scale there are a lot of opportunities to monetize that are really great for consumers, because they get a really low-cost product".
E3 2014 - The first consumer Oculus Rift headset will reach the hands of consumers next year, but just how many units does the Facebook-owned VR startup expect to ship? Well, they are hoping for "north of a million units [in sales]" over the life of the first consumer version of the Oculus Rift".
Oculus VR CEO, Brendan Iribe has said: "It's not going to be a console-scale market. It always could be, but that's not the goal. The goal is to set expectations low, get the enthusiasts and early adopters to get into the space, get their feedback, get developers making really great content...".
The full potential of VR, and the Oculus Rift will be after the first consumer unit has been released, with the second version ready to go. This is when Iribe says things will be kicked up considerably, where he continues: "That's when we'll get these incredible, holy grail [games], the killer app for VR. And that's when we think the scale will really goal, and hopefully you'll get many millions of people into VR, playing great games and other stuff".
Activity trackers easily outsold smartwatches at a rate of 4 to 1 during the first quarter of 2014, with both markets expected to grow tremendously, according to the ABI Research analyst group. An estimated 10 million activity trackers will be shipped by the end of the year, and 7 million smartwatches will hit the market.
Fitbit, Garmin, Nike, and Jawbone are the leaders in the activity tracker market, according to ABI Research, as other manufacturers jump into the market.
"Activity trackers are currently the most viable consumer electronics wearable device category, because they have a clear use case that cannot be matched by smartphones, in contrast to smartphones," according to ABI. "Smartwatches will develop rapidly in 2014 and 2015, with hybrid activity tracker/smartwatches soon to hit the market, more specialized components being developed and most importantly the use case improving through a growing applications ecosystem. As the value proposition of smartwatches increases, however, the price will still need to decrease to balance with end-user expectations."
E3 2014 - I wrote a very emotional, but optimistic piece on the acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook back in March, but one of the best guys I've met in the industry, Nate Mitchell, Oculus VR's VP of Product, has had some great words to say at E3 2014.
Mitchell spoke with Polygon at E3, where he said: "For us, we're all gamers, we're game developers, and if you look at our team, it's 90 percent industry veterans, so we have this big focus on games. We want this to be the best platform for VR games. I think, longer-term, we're all excited about the potential of everything you can do with VR, whether it's film or education or training or communication. Over time, I think you'll see more of that, but it's all really about games, and Facebook is excited about that, too".
One of the better parts of the talk, is that Mitchell said that Facebook has been both hands-off, and hands-on "in the best possible way". He continued: "Part of the Facebook deal is, 'Here's a buffet of resources, take advantage of whatever you want.' On the flip-side, they've also been super proactive in suggesting ideas. So as we've gone and said, hey, we want to bring on Jason Rubin, or we want to build these studios, they've said 100 percent, go for it".
Samsung and Pebble became early supporters of smartwatches, and that decision has paid off with both companies controlling the estimated $96 million market. Samsung has 78 percent of market revenue with its Gear smartwatch, as Pebble is in No. 2 with 18 percent revenue share.
The smartwatch market is poised to explode in popularity, as one in 5 consumers have expressed interest in the technology, according to the NPD research group. The average price of a smartwatch is $189, with prices varying from $160 up to $257 - and 25-34 year olds are most interested in smartwatches.
"The smartwatch market is poised to continue to grow in 2014," said Ben Arnold, NPD executive director of industry analysis, in a statement. "With nearly $100 million in U.S. sales in less than a year, the category is off to a promising start with just two major brands."