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The debate regarding the use of police body cameras rages on across the country, as numerous jurisdictions continue to evaluate potential benefits and risks of using them. Supporters hope it will help keep police officers on their best behavior, while also making criminals think twice before engaging in an altercation with police.
Some of the benefits of deploying body cameras worn by officers include being able to resolve complaints from the public, using footage in future training efforts, and providing additional evidence in legal cases.
"In addition to these benefits, a recent study suggests that the mere presence of [body worn cameras] may even serve to prevent negative interactions by modifying police officer and citizen behavior," according to a study from the Department of Justice. "As a result, the use of these devices may lead to enhance police accountability, as well as improved police-community relations."
Oculus VR has teamed up with Runtastic for some upcoming VR-based workout and fitness applications. Runtastic will reportedly use the Oculus Rift, allowing users to use the VR headset to transport them to exotic locations around the world for their workout.
Runtastic is only running with a prototype application at this time, but the developer is aiming for a totally hands-free experience. Within the VR world, users will see their virtual trainer, and a heads up display that will show them real-time stats and other details. I think the idea of a VR workout is incredible, as people could choose to work out on the Moon, on the beach at sunrise or sunset, or on the side of a cliff. It will open up a new world of app development for wearables and workout 'maps'.
Activelink, a Panasonic subsidiary, will reportedly release its Power Loader robotic exoskeleton suit to the consumer market sometime in 2015. The unique technology will range in price from $5,000 up to $7,000, and can help the wearer by aiding in moving heavy objects and conducting manual labor tasks. The company wants to manufacture up to 1,000 of these custom suits over the next year, and will increase production based on demand.
Previous versions of the Power Loader exoskeleton aids humans in lifting up to 220 lbs., and run up to 5 miles per hour, according to Activelink. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery that helps power a motor.
These type of robotic exoskeletons are being developed by governments and militaries - but there is a major development push being embraced for consumers.
A rumor out of Taiwan indicates the Apple Watch will enter mass production starting in January, with Quanta Computer reportedly prepared to manufacture up to 24 million units during the first year. Quanta is stepping up employees from 2,000 up to 10,000, and should be extremely busy trying to keep up with orders.
Final pricing of the Apple Watch hasn't been published, but entry-level pricing begins at $250.
The wearables market is gaining steam in the United States, and the Apple Watch is expected to drive the industry to new heights. Microsoft, Samsung, LG and Motorola already have smart watches available on the consumer market, but Apple is predicted to quickly dominate all rivals.
In addition to providing an enhanced view of police interactions with the public, there is another benefit of police officers being equipped with body cameras: researchers will be able to study video and audio footage to help create more realistic training scenarios for officers. Researchers from UCLA will pull video and audio material from up to 100 officers at an undisclosed police agency.
"While we focus attention on things that escalated all the way to extreme outcomes, we know a lot less about other events," said Jeff Brantigham, an anthropologist from UCLA, in a statement published by the MIT Technology Review. "Things that went down a dangerous path and ended up being okay. Why did it end up that way? That would provide a huge benefit in terms of training."
The Obama Administration has promised $75 million in funding for body cameras, as many police departments across the country show interest in deploying them.
The smart wearables market is growing at a rapid pace, and it won't take too long before these high-tech products are "completely unobtrusive" to the eye, according to Gartner. By 2017, 30 percent of consumer smart products will no longer be eye-sores that owners don't want to wear on a frequent basis.
"Already, there are some interesting developments at the prototype stage that could pave the way for consumer wearables to blend seamlessly into their surroundings," said Annette Zimmermann, Gartner research director, in a statement.
Even though consumers are still curious about the market, there is a strong push to help ensure smart wearables blend in - as prices drop and technology increases - should only help the market mature even faster. Companies already are working on smart contact lenses and smart jewelry, catering to new revenue streams that tech companies sometimes miss.
The wearables market is still growing, but could end up being a major emerging technology - especially in workplaces, as businesses embrace them for employees. A third of companies in Europe plan to roll out some form of wearable technology in 2015, according to a survey from IT and systems monitoring company Ipswitch.
The French (34 percent) and German (33 percent) governments should lead wearable adoption, ahead of the UK (25 percent) and other European Union countries. Even if companies don't provide wearable products to employees, many of them - led by the Apple Watch - can benefit from increased demand.
Analysts are still unsure what to make of the wearable market for consumers and business employees, only simply saying that it will see tremendous growth over the next few years.
Jawbone wants to see the workplace become a health competition with its latest Up for Groups initiative, which is their latest ecosystem for its range of wearables.
Up for Groups will give employers a bunch of tools that can keep their staff motivated and reaching different fitness achievements, while using Up24 and Up Move trackers. Up for Groups has a slew of features like leaderboards, activity logs, and detailed performance ratings from group members.
Jawbone's ultimate goal is to have corporate health stretching outside of the normal 9-5, but it'll be up to the individual if they can pull through for their group.
Virtuix is ready to show off the Virtuix Omni's final design at CES 2015 in January, with the company securing itself $2.7 million in investment funds.
The $2.7 million cash injection has perfect timing, as the company is ready to push its product into the commercial space. Virtuix is currently preparing the shipment of Omni units to its Kickstarter backers, as well as the full commercial launch. But first, they'll be showing off the final design of the Virtuix Omni at CES 2015 in Las Vegas, in the first week of January, just weeks away.
In February 2013, the company took in over $1.1 million from Kickstarter for the Virtuix Omni, and since then the company has been right on the edge of VR development. Virtuix CEO Jan Goetgeluk said: "Virtuix's mission is to take virtual reality beyond the chair. The Omni transforms VR into an active experience. These funds ensure that we can accelerate development of that mission beyond our upcoming commercial launch".
Hardware maker Intel hesitated as smartphones and tablets became popular, making it extremely difficult for the company to compete with competitors. However, the company appears to be learning from its mistakes and is working diligently to create new opportunities in the growing wearables market.
In addition to internal hardware development, Intel also has purchased smaller companies and created new partnerships as the industry advances. The Silicon Valley company will continue to manufacture new chips and sensors, and wants to help the Internet of Things (IoT) market develop - further accelerating the growth of wearable devices.
"It hasn't come to fruition as much as the hype would suggest, but we really think something's there," said Mike Bell, Intel's New Devices group leader. "Most people don't want to have a square screen that uses this technology."