Before I get into it, I want to talk about this year’s Wareable Tech Awards. I’m not quite sure how we’re already halfway through October, but it doesn’t seem so long ago that we were debating the longlists before we had to start whittling things down to the final shortlists.
Last week we held our judging evening where we had the likes of Jeremy White from Wired UK and Muchaneta Kapfunde from FashNerd help us get a better sense of who and what should be walking away with a Wareable award come 9 November. What’s always great about nights like this is that you get an entirely different perspective on what makes a wearable special or worthy of recognition. When you’re consumed by wearable tech on a daily basis, it’s easy to ignore whether the tech we hold in such high regard is similarly thought of in the same vein by people that are not writing it about it 24/7. Yes, we like to think of ourselves as the authority, but this is one of the best ways to really find out which wearables are really making a difference.
But enough about the Awards. It’s still a few weeks yet before I have to bust out the dancing hot dog costume (spoiler alert: that is definitely not happening), so here’s what’s been going down in the big ol’ world of wearables this week.
Fossil’s wearable invasion
The Fossil Group is spearheading the next generation of wearables. Soon people will no longer point to that plastic, sporty band around your wrist and say, “Eww, what is that?” Okay, so I might be slightly exaggerating, but the fashion giant promised us it was going big on stylish wearables and so far it has not disappointed.
Now it seems like we are writing about a new Fossil hybrid on an almost weekly basis and there’s even more coming before the end of the year. But FG is not stopping at smartwatches and fitness trackers either. It’s also planning to venture into hearables and eyewear next. Quite how those will take shape, we have no idea, but with so many luxury and designer brands at its disposal, it’s another opportunity to showcase those connected smarts and get wearables into the lives of people who have maybe never laid their hand on one.
FG is also playing a major role in redressing the wearable tech gender balance as well, something that our features editor Sophie discusses in this week’s great edition of #Trending. Definitely go read that.
Smartwatches for the kids
From a positive note we move onto a negative one and it’s a serious one. This week, the Norwegian Consumer Council revealed a report based on its own testing that shed light on the security risks of smartwatches designed for kids. So we are not talking Apple Watches or Fitbit Ionics here, but connected watches that still allow you to make calls and can help parents pinpoint the location of their little ones.
The report revealed that some of these smartwatches could be easily hacked and could let anyone with the knowhow eavesdrop on calls or even spoof the location of their children. Now I don’t have kids, but that doesn’t mean this kind of story doesn’t concern me. I have nieces and nephews who I’ve let try out wearables that are built for smaller hands.
Security is paramount for any piece of tech that’s transmitting and storing data and more so when it’s designed for children. It’s perhaps not all that unsurprising that no major tech company has developed these types of wearable as it casts a whole another level of security that needs to be considered.
Fortunately, some of those companies named in this report have acted swiftly to rectify the situation and it’ll be lesson for others that while it’s great to have a wearable that does all these amazing things, security should be a top priority.
I want to finish off back on a high note about wearables because there was a great story that was technically at the tail end of last week, but I only found about this week – so it counts in my book.
It’s about Brooklyn reporter and podcaster James Green who had noticed his heart rate had spiked via an app on his Apple Watch and it actually turned out that he had a pulmonary embolism. For those without advanced medical knowledge, that’s a blocked vessel in the lungs. Had it not been noticed, it could have proved fatal.
The app in question was called HeartWatch and we’ve been speaking to the developer, so keep a look out for a piece on said chat next week, but this week saw another smartwatch-friendly app launch that’s all about heart health. Cardiogram, which has already been available for the Apple Watch has now popped up on Google Play for compatible Android Wear watches. Like HeartWatch it promises to deliver advanced metrics and has the capability to detect conditions such as atrial fibrillation.
We’ve talked a lot at Wareable about the state of heart rate accuracy from wrist worn wearables, but a story like James’ and apps like Cardiogram and HeartWatch are reminders that these tiny little computers can actually be pretty useful health monitoring devices after all.
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