Oddly Specific Wearable Gadgets at CES 2016
Honestly, putting some Swarovski crystals on it isn’t helping.
Las Vegas, NV-- Wearables are getting a little ridiculous. Now that there are approximately 300 smart activity trackers on the market, all of which track exactly the same stats, companies are starting to go niche hunting in areas that have produced some extremely specific wearables. We're not just talking wearables for athletes, we're talking separate wearables for basketball players and soccer players. Oh, and of course there are wearables for your dog, too. Check out ten ultra-narrow-focused wearables we saw at CES 2016.
1. Vert 2
The Vert 2 from Vert is a wearable for athletes—specifically, for jumping athletes, like basketball and volleyball players. This small wearable, which can be worn in various ways (including in special clothing with integrated Vert 2 pouches), measures everything you ever wanted to know about your jumping prowess.
Vert 2 wearers will be able to see their average jump height, total jump count, jump intensity, jump acceleration, best vertical jump, and more. The Vert 2 lasts for between 5 and 7 hours on a charge, which makes it's perfect for practice or a game—but it's not exactly an all-day wearable. The Vert 2 will be out in May of this year, and will cost around $125 to $150.
2. GoBe 1.2
Healbe is back with the second-ish iteration of its controversial calorie-counting wearable, the GoBe 1.2. The controversy arose when Healbe initially claimed that the first GoBe could read the wearer’s blood glucose level without piercing the person’s skin—which was a huge misspeak, since a patent for a noninvasive blood glucose reader would probably be worth about a trillion dollars.
Anyway, the new version of the GoBe doesn't claim to read blood glucose, but it does (supposedly) measure galvanic skin response (allowing for advanced stress measurement), glycemic food index, and metabolism, along with calories. As for accuracy, a rep from Healbe asserts that the GoBe 1.2 is about 85 percent accurate, which isn't great if you're a hardcore calorie-counter, but is probably more accurate than using MyFitnessPal's food database. The GoBe 1.2 will be available in June for $249.
The Reliefband is a highly specialized wearable aimed at people suffering from nausea—but that target audience may be bigger than you might think, since it includes pregnant women with morning sickness and travelers with motion sickness. The Reliefband doesn't track or record information with sensors; instead, it emits short pulses that stimulate a nerve in your wrist to stop nausea within minutes. Because too many pulses can leave you impervious to the Reliefband's palliative effects, the Reliefband is designed for manual operation whenever you feel nauseated.
Unlike some wearables, the Reliefband is not based on junk science. The technology it relies on has been used in hospitals for years to help chemotherapy and post-op patients recover from nausea. The Reliefband is available now for $90.
Everyone needs a wearable! Even your baby needs a wearable! Okay, so the TempTraq isn't really just for babies. This business card-size underarm patch is designed to be worn for up to 48 hours, during which time it will continuously track the temperature of the person who has it on and report back to an app. Its target wearers are babies and children, but anyone, including the elderly, can use it.
But why can't you just take your kid's temperature? Well, this way you don't have to disturb them if they're sleeping, and you can also monitor their temperature (and receive alerts) from a distance through TempTraq Connect—perfect for working parents. The TempTraq is available now, and retails for $20.
5. Tractive GPS 2
Is there anything more specific than a wearable for your dog? How about a pet-wearable GPS tracker...that comes in cool colors, like camouflage green or hot pink with genuine Swarovski crystals? The Tractive GPS 2 is a GPS pet tracker that lets you pinpoint your pooch’s peregrinations in real-time (using an app, of course). This 100 percent waterproof tracking device attaches to your pet's collar (or harness, if you have a small dog), and has an integrated light for when you're looking for your best buddy in the darkness.
The Tractive GPS 2 also keeps a 24-hour running history of your pet's whereabouts, just in case you're interested in what your dog does all day (I'm pretty sure my French bulldog's tracking history would be the most boring thing ever, because he sits on the couch about 23 hours a day). This $150 gadget is available now.
You may not think you're stressed out, but you're probably wrong. According to BioTrak Health, creators of the de-stressing wearable Halo, 90 percent of all people suffer from muscle tension caused by stress. The aptly named Halo is a headband-type wearable that uses surface EMGs to measure muscle tension and then coaches you through relaxation exercises on a companion app.
The Halo is primarily designed for people who suffer from chronic muscle tension, or migraines caused by stress. This wearable isn't designed to be worn constantly—it's not exactly subtle—but the long-term goal is for you eventually to be able to recognize tension without the wearable and then to use the relaxation exercises you’ve learned from the Halo to chill out on your own. The Halo will be available this spring and will cost around $200.
7. Eagle Eye
Are you an amateur soccer player? Or are you coaching an amateur soccer team? If so, Eagle Eye is a soccer-oriented wearable designed specifically for you. "Amateur" is the key word here: This tracker, which players wear on their upper arm, is designed to help players and coaches see how well (or poorly) they maintain their position on the field.
The Eagle Eye also tracks other things, like playing time, total distance run, sprints, and speed; but the most valuable data comes from a heat map that shows you where players are on the field. This way, when a midfielder tells you he's pretty sure he didn't spend all his time on offense, you can pull up his stats and help him see the light. The Eagle Eye will start shipping this spring, and will cost $150 (per unit, I assume, so we're probably talking minor league, not middle school, teams).
Kids' posture these days is atrocious—and it's all because of excessive mobile device usage, says Medical Wearable Solutions, creator of EyeForcer. Apparently there's a condition called 'Gameboy Disease' (despite the fact that the last Game Boy was released 10 years ago), which causes poor posture, neck and back pain, vision problems, and other issues in children aged 8 to 18. And EyeForcer, a pair of lensless 'glasses,' can help.
EyeForcer is a Bluetooth device that works with Android systems. A special companion app that can commandeer the Android OS lets parents set up EyeForcer-enforced boundaries on a phone or tablet. For example, parents can set up kids' devices so that poor posture results in a game shutdown, or good posture results in more playtime. Posture problems aside, the EyeForcer app also lets parents restrict app access and set time limits, which is very appealing to some of the people involved. The EyeForcer is still in prototype phase (no price has been set), but it should start shipping later this year.
Kopin's Solos glasses are like Google Glass for cyclists. These sporty sunglasses (which have replaceable lenses, so you can swap in clear or high-contrast lenses) have a tiny Head-Up Display (HUD) attached, so you can see all your performance metrics without taking your eyes off the road. The Solos connects to all the ANT+ trackers you already use via a companion app on your phone.
Solos' HUD is designed to be as minimal as possible, so you're not distracted from the cycling experience. But the glasses—which are still in prototype form, though they’re expected to start shipping in the second quarter of this year, for under $500—will likely have some phone alert functionality, and you'll be able to take calls through the built-in speakers.
I have a circadian rhythm disorder, which means I usually end up sleeping when it's light outside—so I know the value of a good sleep mask. But my last sleep mask cost $30, not $299. Priced at that higher figure, the Neuroon is a thick, sensor-packed sleep 'wearable' designed to help shift workers and people with jet lag (me, essentially) get back on a normal sleep schedule.
This ultra-fancy sleep mask uses biometric sensors to measure brain waves, muscle tension, eye movement, pulse, body temperature, and body movement during sleep to track the wearer’s sleep quality and provide personalized recommendations (through a companion app). It also uses light therapy to wake you up slowly (with a 'Neuroon Sunrise') without a jarring alarm. Most people aren’t likely to find a $300 sleep mask (which is shipping now) terribly appealing, but I'm kind of intrigued.