If wearable technology wants to break into the mainstream, it has to overcome the geek factor. And that may be tough when King of the Nerds Sergey Brin is touting Google Glass on New York’s subways.
Some companies are actually opting for prominent devices as a way to show off your connectedness, or at least not lose your gadget in the wash. But as batteries get smaller, wearables could become less of a fashion statement and more about a new wave of immersive computing.
Either way, there will be a lot of competition. ABI Research predicts that the global market for wearable computing devices in health and fitness could reach 170 million devices by 2017.
At the end of the day, the design of the wearable and how it feels on your body is only half the battle. Wearable makers are hard at work making sure their gadgets can collect the right data and deliver a service to users that makes the data important and useful in their daily lives. If the body data isn’t helpful, then really, what’s the point?
We created this “bare-bones” infographic of wearable devices that are currently available and that fit the mold for what we see as the future of the connected you: data-driven services, and unobtrusive design. Which ones do you own or want to own? Click on each body section to read more about the companies and devices available.
Google’s “augmented reality” glasses allow you to do anything you’d normally do on your phone or laptop — record video, find directions, message your friends — but without your hands. It’s currently available only to select “creative individuals” in colors Charcoal, Tangerine, Shale, Cotton and Sky and perhaps soon in more attractive styles. ($1,500)
A number of companies including Motorola, Pebble and Basis Science have all thrown their hats in the connected watch arena. Adding new purpose to a time-warn accessory, these smart watches read texts out loud, play music, and track your exercise and health — in addition to telling time. Apple is even working on a watch that could run iOS. ($115-$300)
Companies like Jawbone and Fitbit are marrying data and design for a wearable computing experience that’s seamless and attractive. Their wristbands and bracelets are being used to track fitness, sleep and calories but look like a simple accessory. ($99-$129)
Sensors are the essential part of all wearable devices. Companies like Misfit and its Shine device use sensors that can also function as jewelry for a seamless way to track your activity. A recent Apple filing shows the company might have even broader ambitions for wearable sensors, too. ($59-$99)
From connected shoes to connected clips and inserts, feet are often the preferred place for activity trackers that show where and how far you’ve run. ($ price varies on technology)
Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.