Most of the noise on wearables has revolved around fitness trackers and smart watches over the past couple of years, but I wanted to summarise my top 10 favourite finds across the wearables category to demonstrate wearables do extend beyond the wrist.
These examples could inspire you to design and embed within your own wearable, copycat or buy to wear right now!
Hopefully these products might also inspire you to join the element14 Safe & Sound Wearables Design Challenge before the concept submission date of 27th January 2017 - enter to be in with a chance of receiving a free Kit. Great prizes are also up for grabs for two final winners!
1. Adafruit 1657 Gemma Wearables Starter Pack (RRP £20.61)
Adafruit Industries have launched an affordable DIY wearables starter pack that anyone can get their head around. Included is everything you need to make a basic project. There's a GEMMA board, four sewable bright RGB pixels, a battery holder and batteries, 2-ply conductive thread, and crocodile clips.
2. Electro Fashion Sewable LED Kit & Projects (RRP £21.50)
This kit has been compiled by Kitronik to equip teachers of 7-14 year olds with basic consumables for up to 5 simple projects, even with no prior electronic expertise. Also suitable for parents and hobbyists.
3. NXP WaRP7 Wearable Reference Platform (RRP £82)
All components included in this system were selected based on low power, small form factor and cost and will speed the initial design phase so much so, freeing developers to focus on creating differentiated features.
The WaRP7 platform consists of a main board and a daughter card. The main board is based on the NXP i.MX 7Solo applications processor that features an advanced implementation of the ARM Cortex-A7 core, as well as the ARM Cortex-M4 core. The daughter card is based on a flexible design with sensors to collect a range of data and the MikroBus expansion socket opens users to over 200 Click Boards, allowing rapid prototyping across all potential wearable usage models.
4. TOM TOM Adventurer Cardio + Music (RRP 269.99)
As a sportswoman formerly involved in wearable’s design, it’s nice to see some choice finally coming on to the market after 15 years of saying wearable’s is the ‘next big thing in sportswear’, although the conversation still revolves most around wrist wear. It is true that choosing a smart watch really depends on your use... and the Fitbit range can satisfy most gym-goers and leisure users wanting to track their steps and sleep no problem, but for me I have been waiting for a multisport ensemble that does everything, and isn’t too heavy on my wrist and has a decent display, has working GPS functionality and now it’s here all wrapped up as the Tom Tom Adventurer smart watch. This baby also has the best battery life of anything else on the market with a heavy spec. It’s new so get your order in now to get ahead!
5. FITBIT FB103BK Wireless Activity + Sleep Trackers (RRP £88.63)
In a world where individuals are sleeping less and scientists are telling us that the lack of sleep is the cause of many illnesses, tracking our dormancy is as important as tracking our fitness. Small IoT aids like the Fitbit FB103BK can be worn discreetly in a pocket, belt or bra and will monitor activity as well as how long and how well we sleep and can wake us (and not our partner) with a silent alarm.
6. HANNspree SW1BSC1B Prime Smartwatch (RRP £56.94)
Everyone wants an affordable smart watch and the Pebble is definitely up there and you probably know all about them, but have you heard of the HANNspree Prime? It’s a SmartPhone and Smart Fitness Watch at an absolute bargain price!
Impressively, it contains most of the features and functionality of a full smartphone and would be a perfect accessory if you were posing as Michael Knight calling Kit to taxi you home after the New Year’s celebrations! With Bluetooth connectivity, and an integrated quad-band GSM SIM card slot allows you to stay connected away from your phone. It features a 1.54” capacitive touch display, 4 hours talk time, built-in 0.3MP camera with video recorder, video player, pedometer and more...
7. X-Strike for Runners (Awaiting Funding)
X-STRIKE is an open-source real-time running performance monitoring and feedback platform, which is aimed at runners recording their own foot strikes and comparing their own foot strike patterns against a role-model runner in the connected network; the objective being to improve one’s own performance. What makes it even more impressive is that the platform is actually 3 interlinked wearables in one worn on the bicep, hand, insole that communicate to generate a 3D locomotion graphy.
Here’s a great DIY intermediate project to follow - simply by adapting any off-the-shelf bra using Arduino MKR1000, Neopixels and controllable by your smartphone to do what you like in the name of fun.
ALSO: A concept bra with a more serious side (not available to buy yet), nonetheless a great idea is a winner of the UK Royal College of Art 2015 Awards - the Euphoros Connected Bra, which can detect both activity (i.e. movement) and social activity levels (i.e. the amount of conversation the mother has measured using a mic). Euphoros is a prototyped wellbeing wearable that connects to partners, doctors and carers via Bluetooth and a companion app. One in seven women suffer from postnatal depression, according to the UK NHS and Euphoros is one of a suite of empathic technology products and has been designed to limit depression and loneliness by improving engagement within new families; building more of a caring network for new mums.
9. Oculus Rift VR Headset (RRP £549)
A top ten wouldn’t be complete without the best of VR entertainment devices, and the Oculus Rift still tops the device leaderboard for immersing yourself in to three-dimensional game and movie worlds. It plugs into your computer's DVI and USB ports and tracks your head movements to provide 3D imagery on its stereo screens. Now owned by facebook, no doubt this product will offer us more in the future.
10. Oakley Radar Pace (RRP £400)
Rounding out my top ten is my favourite hearable. Although Oakley was the first to integrate audio in to their Pace years ago, their technology has now advanced to offer intelligent coaching audio. They do need to pair with your smartphone, but the conversational AI is awesome and learns your habits over time.
So, there you have it.
I’m looking forward to seeing all the rumours around the new Snapchat AR glasses, smart rings/jewellery, stress busting/emotion sensing devices, temporary tattoos/implantables, wearable payments, sportswear, safety and connected smart home wearables come to fruition in 2017...let’s wait and see!
What wearables inventions do you think will be next?