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Wearable Electronics

Swatch Working on Own Smartwatch OS

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Swatch Working on Own Smartwatch OS

Swatch is working on an alternative to Android Wear and Watch OS, Bloomberg reports-- one to be first seen in a Tissot-branded smartwatch launching by end 2018.

What will make the Swatch software better than that developed by the American giants? According to Swatch CEO Nick Hayek the difference lies in its trying to "think small," meaning it drains less battery power, the biggest problem wearables currently face. It also promises to "protect data better," and the OS will be available for 3rd parties.

“There’s a possibility for wearables to develop as a consumer product, but you have to miniaturize and have an independent operating system,” the CEO adds.

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TAG Heuer Presents Modular Smartwatch

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TAG Heuer Presents Modular Smartwatch

Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer announces a second take at the smartwatch-- the Connected Modular 45, an Android Wear device the company describes as one of the most customisable around.

The "modular" part of the Connected Modular 45 comes in the shape of interchangable 45mm watch "heads," with a choice of either connected or mechanical modules. The connected module comes courtesy of Intel, since it features an Atom Z34XX CPU (on a Swiss-made motherboard), an AMOLED display, 4GB built-in storage and connectivity via wifi, GPS and NFC. On the Swiss-made mechanical side one can choose from the Calibre 5 or the more accurate Heuer O2T Tourbillon.

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Google and Levi's Team Up in Smart Jacket

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Google and Levi's Team Up in Smart Jacket

Google and Levi's extend the idea of wearable electronics to actual clothing as the two companies present the first product from Google's Project Jacquard-- the smart Commuter Trucker jacket.

Presented at the SXSW festival, the jacket has a conductive fabric turning the left sleeve into a smartphone controller. As a result one can manipulate core smartphone functions, such as answer the phone, read texts, control maps or play music, by touching and swiping the sleeve. It all sounds very similar to a smartwatch, only arguably less obtrusive and more stylish.

A companion app allows users to set "abilities"-- such as a double-tap for music or a swipe up to tell the time. A small rechargeable tag clipped inside the sleeve powers the fabric-based touchpad, with battery life currently clocking at around 2 days on a single charge.

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Fitbit Tracks Heart Rate With Alta HR

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Fitbit Tracks Heart Rate With Alta HR

Fitbit presents an update to the Alta fitness tracker-- the Alta HR, a slim wearable featuring a new sensor complete with real-time heart rate tracking.

Like the previous model, the Alta HR has a tap-sensitive OLED display, and promises 7 days of battery life on a single charge while automatically tracking activities. Sleep tracking is apparently more detailed now, with "Sleep Stages" combining motion data with heart rate variability to show light, deep and REM sleep stages, while "Sleep Insights" shows how diet and fitness patterns affect sleep patterns.

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IDC: Q4 2016 Best Quarter Yet for Apple Watch

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IDC: Q4 2016 Best Quarter Yet for Apple Watch

IDC reports an all-time shipment high for the global wearables market on Q4 2016-- 33.9 million units, a 16.9% Y-o-Y increase. Shipments for full-year 2016 are also on the up, growing by 25% to 102.4m.

The year sees an evolving wearable arena. Early in 2016 the market was divided between smart and basic wearables, with smart wearables coming off worse despite additional features and technology. Later on both WatchOS and Android Wear pivoted to focus on what customers appear to want most, which is fitness and health applications.

"Like any technology market, the wearables market is changing," the analyst remarks. "Basic wearables started out as single-purpose devices tracking footsteps and are morphing into multi-purpose wearable devices, fusing together multiple health and fitness capabilities and smartphone notifications. It's enough to blur the lines against most smart wearables, to the point where 1st generation smartwatches are no better than most fitness trackers."

 

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Huawei Updates Watch at MWC 2017

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Huawei Updates Watch at MWC 2017

Huawei announces an update of the 2015 Watch smartwatch at MWC 2017-- the Watch 2 and Watch 2 Classic, both featuring GPS, heart rate sensors, NFC and, in case of the Watch 2, LTE connectivity.

The two versions of the Watch 2 have circular 1.2-inch display and a somewhat chunky design at 12.6mm thick. Both have two physical buttons, microphones, speakers and 420mAh batteries Huawei claims last for up to 2 days on a single charge. The company also includes a low-power "watch mode" pushing battery life to over 25 days by restricting watch functionality to just telling the time and step counting.

As mentioned previously, the Watch 2 also includes LTE connectivity thanks to its plastic construction. The Watch 2 Classic is wifi only, and has a metal chassis.

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Android Wear Reaches 2.0

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Android Wear Reaches 2.0

Google releases the next version of the Android Wear smartwatch operating system-- Android Wear 2.0, an upgrade with features such as standalone apps, LTE support and improved fitness tracking.

Android Wear 2.0 is redesigned to be easier to use through simple swipes and the voice-controlled Google Assistant (summoned through the "OK Google" command). Complicated wrist gestures are disabled by default, and watch faces are customisable through 3rd party apps, allowing one to display current weather, stock prices, nearby places or a favourite contact.

Users can also install apps directly on a smartphone through a miniature version of the Google Play Store, while health tracking promises improvements through a pre-installed Google Fit app able to automatically detect workouts and give exercise tips. Notifications also get a boost through grouping and actionable options, such as deleting an email or replying to an SMS.

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A Smartwatch for Games

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A Smartwatch for Games

Do your customers want to play games on their wrists? The Gameband offers a dedicated solution, since it is described as a "powerful smartwatch" built for "people who love to game."

The Gameband comes in two versions-- an Atari version featuring classic games such as Pong, Crystal Casltes and Asteroids, and a Terraria version with an exclusive minigame based on the titular game. Whichever version of the Gameband one chooses they get to play games on a 1.63-inch AMOLED display, with a microSD card slot allowing the addition of more titles.

The smartwatch runs on a custom version of Android and pairs with a PC app named PixelFurnace for the transfer of software. One can even store an entire PC game on the Gameband and play it on another PC by plugging the watch in and launching the game on PixelFurnace on that computer.

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TomTom Intros Touch Cardio

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TomTom Intros Touch Cardio

TomTom announces what is essentially an entry-level version of the Touch tracker-- the Touch Cardio, a basic fitness tracker featuring an optical heart rate monitor.

The Touch Cardio tracks steps, calories burned, sleep and active time as well as heart rate, and connects with the TomTom Sports app. Like the Touch it has an OLED display and 24/7 monitoring within a slim design, but lacks the body composition feature for the measuring of fat/muscle percentage.

Customers can also use the Cardio for basic smartwatch functionality, since the display can notify users of incoming messages and incoming calls.

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How Many Watches Did Apple Sell?

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How Many Watches Did Apple Sell?

Apple might not reveal actual Watch sales figures, but Strategy Analytics believes it has an idea of how much smartwatches the iPhone maker shipped in Q4 2016-- 5.2 million, with 2% Y-o-Y growth.

"Demand for Apple’s new Watch Series 2 as a holiday-season gift in Western markets was surprisingly strong and it enabled Apple to clear a large backlog of smartwatch inventory during the quarter,” the analyst remarks.

The overall smartwatch market is also on a somewhat positive note, as Q4 2016 shipments are up by 1% Y-o-Y to 8.2m units, a return to growth after 2 consecutive quarters of decline. Driving such (admittedly slight) recovery are new product launches from Apple, as well as stronger seasonal demand from developed markets.

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Wearable Decline Hits Fitbit

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Wearable Decline Hits Fitbit

Fitbit might be the current leader in wearable devices, but things are not looking so rosy for the fitness tracker maker-- the company faces the wrath of Wall Street, as its 2016 results fail to reach expectations.

The company reports Q4 2016 revenue totals $572-580 million from sales reaching 6.5m devices, down from previously announced guidance of $725-750m. It also says 2016 growth is around 17%, instead of growth forecasts of 25-26%. However it does point out a bright spot in EMEA, where Q4 2016 revenue growth reaches 58% Y-o-Y.

“Q4 2016 results are expected to be below our prior guidance range; however, we are confident this performance is not reflective of the value of our brand, market-leading platform, and company’s long-term potential... To address this reduction in growth and what we believe is a temporary slowdown and transition period, we are taking clear steps to reduce operating costs," CEO James Park says.

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