Wearable Electronics

DigiTimes: Apple Watch Shipments to Reach 15m in 2017

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DigiTimes: Apple Watch Shipments to Reach 15m in 2017

According to upstream supply chain sources speaking to DigiTimes overall Apple Watch shipments are to reach 4.4 million in Q4 2017, before growing to 15m for the full year 2017 and 20m by 2018.

Such results bode well for Apple and its plans for the 3rd generation Watch. Other vendors do not have such luck, though-- the anonymous sources say demand is weakening for wearables from the likes of Xiaomi and Fitbit. Also seeing weak demand are Samsung, LG, Huawei and Motorola, while Asus and Intel have essentially given up on the device category.

Why did smartwatches-- aside from the Watch-- fail to capture the imagination? DigiTimes points out "high prices, weak battery life, overlapping functionalities with smartphones, and not yet fully integrated ecosystem have prevented demand from reaching expected levels."

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Swim Tracking, Offline Spotify for Gear Fit2 Pro?

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Swim Tracking, Offline Spotify for Gear Fit2 Pro?

According to VentureBeat Samsung will reveal more than just the Galaxy Note8 at its 23 August event-- also waiting in the wings is the Gear Fit2 Pro, the 3rd fitness tracker from the Korean giant.

In a confusing take on naming conventions, the Gear Fit2 Pro is actually the sequel to the Gear Fit2. It features a similar tall, curved display and a bevy of upgrades, including what a more powerful processor and 5 ATM water resistance. This allows users to fully submerge the band in water, allowing the tracking of swimming workouts via Speedo On app (in comparison, the Gear Fit2 is IP-68 certified, and is not submersible).

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Strategy Analytics: Xiaomi Takes Wearables Lead

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Strategy Analytics: Xiaomi Takes Wearables Lead

According to Strategy Analytics the wearables market has a new leader in Q2 2017-- Xiaomi takes over 17% market share, beating the likes of Fitbit and Apple for the first time ever.

The reason behind Xiaomi's rise to the top is the popularity of the Mi Band fitness trackers in China, the result of highly competitive pricing and rich features. In total the company shipped 3.7 million wearables globally in Q2 2017, a 23% Y-o-Y increase over the 3m shipped in Q2 2016.

In the meantime Fitbit finds itself between a rock and a hard place, as its product offering fails to be either low-end fitness band or a premium smartwatch. Shipments for the former wearables leader total 3.4m in Q2 2017, with market share dropping from 29% in Q2 2016 to 16%.

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Cellular Capability for Next Apple Watch?

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Cellular Capability for Next Apple Watch?

According to Bloomberg Apple is working to ensure the Watch is a device more independent of the iPhone-- and as such "at least some new Apple Watch models" will feature an LTE chip.

Cellular connectivity means the Watch would not need to be connected wirelessly to an iPhone to stream music, download map directions, use a number of apps and send or receive messages. A "person familiar with the situation" adds the LTE chip comes from Intel, as opposed to regular iDevice modem supplier Qualcomm, with whom Apple is currently locked in bitter legal dispute.

In addition, Bloomberg says Apple is already in talks with carriers in both Europe and the US to support the LTE Watch-- but these may be a "limited subset" of carriers carrying the iPhone.

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The First MFi Choclear Implant Sound Processor

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The First MFi Choclear Implant Sound Processor

Implantable hearing solution Cochlear teams up with Apple to launch a first Made for iPhone cochlear implant sound processor-- the Nucleus 7 Sound Processor.

Through the Nucleus 7 users will be able to directly pair their hearing implant directly with an iPhone or iPod touch. They also can control, monitor and customise hearing via companion Nucleus Smart app. Further app features include a tracker (records coil-offs times, or each time the sound processor does not detect the implant coil), time in speech (measures time spent in speech environments, including FM and streaming) and Find My Processor (locates lost sound processor via location services).

In addition, Cochlear says the sound processor is smallest and lightest behind-the-ear option on the market. It carries SmartSound iQ with SCAN and dual microphone technology, enabling clear hearing in any environment. A new processing chip also promises more efficient processing with up to 50% longer battery life than the previous generation.

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The Bluetooth Earpiece in a Ring

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The Bluetooth Earpiece in a Ring

Origami Labs presents itself as a solution for customers wanting a Bluetooth earpiece without the dorky look-- Orii, an index finger-worn ring able to produce sound via bone conduction.

The actual ring is perhaps oversized, being 30mm, 20mm wide and 12mm thick. Construction is in aluminium, and inside are a dual Bluetooth 4.0 radio with Bluetooth Low Energy support, dual-mic noise cancellation, gyroscope, LED, 50mAh battery and a bone conduction actuator. The LED flashes whenever a call is received, and to answer one simply needs to touch their ear with their index finger.

As well as calls the Orii allows users to talk with voice assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant. A companion iOS/Android app allows the customisation of the notifications provided by the LED light. Origami Labs says battery life totals 1 hour of talk time, with 45 hours of standby time.

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Jabra Upgrades Elite Sport Battery

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Jabra Upgrades Elite Sport Battery

Headphone maker Jabra announces an update on the Elite Sport wireless earbuds-- one promising a 50% increase in battery life without an increase in the weight or depth of the earbud.

The result, the company says, is battery life reaching up to 4.5 hours of use on a single charge (or 13.5 hours when used with the portable charging case). The upgrade also adds an equaliser profile feature, allowing users to personalise their music experience, and a "Lime Green Gray" colour option.

All other features of the original Elite Dash earbuds, such as audio passthrough, water resistance up to 1m for 30 minutes, heart rate monitor and personalised audio coaching, are retained. The earbuds carry multiple microphones to pick up the user's voice while determining how much of the background to filter out, and can pick up incoming voice commands with a voice command.

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Sony Wena Hybrid Smartwatch Gets Sequel

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Sony Wena Hybrid Smartwatch Gets Sequel

The Wena Wrist, the analog-style smartwatch developed by the Sony internal incubator, gets a sequel-- Three Hands Square, a smaller version featuring an optional leather strap.

The Wena Wrist is an interesting take on wearables, since it carries the smarts inside the wrist strap, not the strictly analog body. The regular metal strap carries an NFC chip (for mobile payments through the Japanese Felica standard), activity tracker (pairs with an iOS app), customisable LED light and notifications via vibration.

However, the new leather strap lacks the LED light and vibration features.

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IDC: Wearables Market to "Nearly Double" by 2021

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IDC: Wearables Market to

The wearable device market should maintain forward momentum in the coming years, IDC reports-- the analyst forecasts 2017 shipments will total 125.5 million, a 20.4% increase over the 104.3m units of 2016.

Further into the future, the market is expected to nearly double before reaching a total of 240.1m units shipped in 2021, making a CAGR of 18.2% for the 5-year period.

“The wearables market is entering a new phase,” IDC says. “Since the market’s inception, it’s been a matter of getting product out there to generate awareness and interest. Now it’s about getting the experience right-- from the way the hardware looks and feels to how software collects, analyses, and presents insightful data. What this means for users is that in the years ahead, they will be treated to second- and 3rd-generation devices that will make the today’s devices seem quaint.”

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IDC: Xiaomi, Apple Hold Top Wearables Position

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IDC: Xiaomi, Apple Hold Top Wearables Position

According to IDC, the global wearables market maintains its upward trajectory on Q1 2017, with shipments reaching 24.7 million-- a 17.9% Y-o-Y increase, while Apple and Xiaomi share the position of top vendor for the quarter.

Xiaomi and Apple holding the top spot means a competitor got supplanted. That competitor is Fitbit, a company currently going through transformation as user tastes shift from fitness bands to smartwatches and other products. This allowed Xiaomi to push inexpensive devices in China, while Apple leverages its position as leading smartwatch vendor.

That said one should not stop start dismissing Fitbit. After all, the fitness tracker wearer has a user base of 50 million, a "strong" presence in corporate wellnes and assets keeping it on the top of mind for digital health. This makes it well positioned for a move into new segments and markets.

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Snapchat Spectacles Reach Europe

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Snapchat Spectacles Reach Europe

Snap-- aka the rebranded Snapchat-- announces the Spectacles, its video-recording sunglasses, are now available in Europe, 7 months after an initial US launch.

For the unfamiliar, the Spectacles are a pair of colourful round sunglasses with a built-in videocamera. They pair with smartphones and the Snapchat app via Bluetooth or wifi, and shoot what the company calls "Snaps," snippets of video up to 10 seconds in length.

The Specs store up to three 10-second long Snaps, and video recording starts and stops by pressing a button on the left arm of the sunglasses. An outwards-facing light lets people know the Specs are recording, and once transferred to smartphone Snaps appear in the Memories section of the Snapchat app for sharing with the rest of the world.

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