So everyone reported on Wearables as the feature of CES 2014, but I just couldn't believe how little variety there was in the functionality and also noted how ugly they all were!
this picture is of the showcase of an Asian manufacturer who manufactures a large number of the step counters and Smart Watches for brands that I saw and tried on their booths too.
How many companies can survive, all marketing a single sensor device? Especially since Fitbit and Nike seem to have captured 2/3 of the sales so far.
i was personally wearing four different step countersa CES and all of them were telling me that the eight miles a day I was averaging cruising the exhibition halls was making me healthy. Not taking into account other factors like what my body was actually telling me, not to mention what I was eating and drinking. The user experience, ease of use, and interpretation of what it all means is still lacking for the average consumer to get interested IMHO. So I am not going to list and review a lot of wearable devices. But a few did stand out as being innovative and better equipped to serve mankind going forward.
CES did great job of laying out specific "Tech Zone" sectors for all the companies innovating with technology in emerging areas of consumer lifestyle to be grouped together so one could visit and see many products and products all together. This helped me with discovery of many types of eye-opening tech, but also showed how crowded some product categories were as well as helping to find gaps in what is available, or that the pieces are in place but for example, the ecosystem or end user value propositions are not.
Very encouraging advances on show at CES 2014 from three further candidate Smart Glasses display technologies.
GlassUp – Projection on coated lens, currently Monochrome
Optinvent – Another approach to see-through lenses that has lots of promise.
Innovega iOptik – Uses special contact lenses to produce very wide FoV see-through experience and potential to address some near eye focus challenges.
As with Lumus, these are display technologies with potential, but not full featured applications development platforms like Google Glass, Vuzix M100 and Epson BT200.
Epson brought to CES 2014 their next generation product with several industrial and professional applications examples being shown by partners and software developers on their booth. Like Vuzix, their open OS for development is Android, so existing platforms and applications can be run directly with only slight modification. Their Smart Glasses do this via a separate tethered control box and battery, so not as totally self contained and wearable as the M100, but in the industrial applications they are addressing, this is probably acceptable. The important aspect to note is that in both the Vuzix and Epson cases, SDK and APIs that enable a standard Android OS are the core offering. Expect a proliferation of Apps to appear based on valuable use cases.
Very encouraging again to see not just technology, but valuable applications such as medical, maintenance, gaming, etc. with fairly simple to use UI’s On show from this company.
One of the first commercially available of the Smart Glasses is from Vuzix who is specifically targeting the professional, industrial and prosumer sectors with this product. Also seen from Vuzix at Showstoppers and on the CES exhibition floor was their next generation lens technology which could be the beginning of consumer appropriate see-through Smart Glasses. These enabling technologies will only take hold if a large number of valuable industrial and eventually consumer applications become available.
A wearable camera and near eye display coupled to context awareness enabling sensors, plus an open Android Applications platform able to store or connect to relevant information is a killer combination for enabling a wide range of valuable professional and industrial use cases. There is a ready market for this device. Desk-less, hands-free work environments are the killer sectors.
Making this unobtrusive, fashionable and even undetectable is the key to wide spread consumer use, simply because the value propositions already exist and are a high value subset of what smartphones are taken out and used for now, but will extend well beyond that when the consumer friendly, wearable technology becomes available.
Vuzix is breaking important new ground in both areas with their commercially available M100 monocular Smart Glass product and with thin, see through lens technology ready to deploy in normal looking consumer eyeglasses formats.
At CES 2014 they were showing Industrial Applications on the M100s developed by industrial partners and VAR’s.
They were also showing patented Waveguide lenses which will be used in their consumer Smart Glasses. Hopefully we will see these as products at CES2015 :-)
Google was not really showing anything at CES 2014, but there were plenty of people wearing Glass!
Glass got mixed reviews when I asked some of them their opinion and what they were using it for at CES. Most were not really using, just wearing! One young girl told me she was doing a study for University on reactions from the public about people wearing Google Glass in public! Another at a bus stop proudly wearing, but intensely working using his Smartphone.
Thank you Google for kicking off the awareness campaign, but the good news is there are both ready to deploy products and amazing new technologies to fuel a value driven range of business opportunities.
In some way I suspect Google welcomes all entries who can deliver this enabling technology as we all know that they just want to get closer to our eyeballs to support their real strategy.
Thanks to Pete Wassell at Augmate and contributions from the companies who are the real veterans in head mounted displays, there was a very nice and informative showcase at the entrance to the Eureka Park in the Venetian.
I have personally been monitoring this sector for 15 years so this was a bit of a nostalgic experience for me. I was involved in the very early days with Reflection Technology who broke early ground. Then Microvision launched their Nomad product which sported a Virtual Retinal Display and in cooperation with Metaio, sold this into the automobile industry as a repair mechanic's aid.
If you think Google Glass is a breakthrough product you only have to look at what Vuzix (called Icuity then) and MicroOptical (myvu) launched in the late 1990's to see that this headworn display technology has been around for a while from these early innovators. The difference from then to now is that the belt or backpack worn PC that drove this is now completely headworn and in the case of the M100 from Vuzix, is a complete open platform Android OS device, so the Applications software can come from several sectors in parallel.
So the Journey from HMD's of 10+ years ago takes us right into a new era of Smart Glasses and Augmented Reality. Thank you Google for bringing this onto the radar screens of the potential user sectors. The Technology is now available and in the hands of developers!
Market researchers ABI predict that 2 million Smart Glasses type devices will be sold this year (2014). This seems a bit optimistic, but with Vuzix M100 commercially available now and Google Glass and Epson coming into general commercial availability in the next months it's at least a possibility from the supply side of the equation. This has never been the case before.
The next chapters in this story will be very interesting ones!
The FIND by SenseGiz is a tag which can be used to prevent losing or misplacing objects like keys, bags, pets, phones etc.
You can hook it or stick it to any item that you want to find immediately or do not want to lose. If you leave that item and start going away, your smartphone app will give off an alarm alerting you about the item left behind. The FIND comes with a phone protect mode as well, where the FIND in your bag or pocket starts beeping if you have misplaced your phone. Or you can use the app to FIND any item whenever you need it! The FIND app is supported on iOS and Android phones.
So simple, yet so many uses.
Available soon for about $20. each.
Looks like SanDisk is starting to think outside the dongle! This is effectively your Personal Cloud in your pocket. And can be shared across iOS, Android devices and to PC & MAC as well. On iOS this all works well over iCloud, but having web connectivity is a must. So the two things that caught my attention on this is that it could save you from buying the iOS devices with the biggest memory, you could get away with less (£$€) and that wide area connectivity is not needed to keep all your devices sync'd up. I see the value, but have lots of questions as to how seamless this is for the user. Only answered when the review unit I have been promised arrives. I will update....
olloclip lenses for iPhone were one of my favourites from last year at CES and they pleasantly surprised me this year when I saw them at Showstoppers with a whole range of new lenses and multi-lens combinations. The ones that most impressed me were the Macrolens combinations, 7X, 14x and 21X all in one package. Also a new telephoto plus polarizing filter combo and a 4-in-1 fisheye, Wideange and two Macro combinations. With a few of these in your pocket you can capture just about anything on an iPhone. The combination of the wide angle plus the new Pano capability in the iPhone camera App makes a powerful combination to capture 360° or panoramic scenes. Well done olloclip!