Wearable technology may still be in its infancy, but thanks to the coolness of products such as the Pebble smartwatch and Google Glass, a few examples are sure to appear on Christmas lists this year. However, the market isn’t all about strapping something to your wrist or face, and if you’re prepared to splash out, it’s possible to swathe an entire body in deliciously geeky clothing and hardware. Here’s our guide to keeping the wearable tech fan in your life happy this holiday season, and if you’re feeling flush, then buy one of each to cover them from head to toe in tech.
The Polar Stride Sensor attaches to a shoe, then links up to an iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth, and is great for runners who don’t want to limit themselves to using one type of shoe. It provides feedback on running technique, and extensive data on speed and distance traveled too. The egg-shaped gadget is water and shock resistant, and is securely fixed to the laces, so whether they’re running on a track or through the forest, it should remain in place.
Outlier New OGS pants ($240)
Finding a pair of smart pants isn’t difficult, but searching for a pair of smartpants is a considerably more difficult task. We think Outlier’s New OG pants fit the bill rather well, and although they don’t connect to your phone, they’re still pretty clever. It’s all down to the fabric used, which has a NanoSphere self-cleaning coating to resist nasty stains and repel water, that even if it does get a soaking, will be dry in less than 20 minutes. Just because the OG’s can be worn at the office doesn’t make them restrictive, as the four-way stretch, tough double weave construction, and high breathability makes them just as good for running or cycling too.
Not every fitness tracker or step counter has to be worn on your wrist, as proven by the Lumo Back, which is strapped around your waist. While it will count steps, measures calories, and track movement, it’s primary goal is to help wearers improve their posture. The sensor monitors of how long you’ve been sitting down, and if you slouch, vibrations remind you to adjust the way your posture. Data is sent to an app on your phone using Bluetooth LE, where you can track your progress while changing your lifestyle.
Pebble Smartwatch ($150)
The Pebble may not be the only smartwatch on sale, but it’s easily one of the most competitively priced, and certainly one of the most versatile. It’s compatible with both Android and iOS smartphones, and will display incoming notifications on its small, monochrome screen. The battery lasts for around five days depending on use, and there is a healthy developer community surrounding it, so there are always new and interesting apps being released. Its slightly ordinary looks can even be enhanced using all manner of stick-on skins. The Pebble is the perfect introduction to smartwatches and wearable tech in general.
Nike+ FuelBand SE ($180)
Nike’s updated FuelBand fitness tracker looks great, fits really well, and is a truly motivational device. It measures your activity and converts movement into Fuel points, pushing its wearer to meet a daily target, which is then tracked and collated by an iOS-only app. The new FuelBand is continually connected to your phone, and can provide hourly feedback, plus it even measures your sleep patterns. Alongside the Pebble, a fitness tracker is an ideal introduction to the benefits of wearable tech, and any of the big name wristbands – from the FitBit to the Jawbone Up – come highly recommended.
NuTouch Gloves ($20)
Touchscreens can be a pain to use when wearing gloves. To get around the problem, a special pair are needed with conductive fibers woven into the fingertips, so the phone can be used without getting cold hands. Often, these gloves only use the material on the index finger, but NuTouch has made sure all ten fingers can interact with the screen. Handy for typing on a tablet, rotating pictures, or playing games.
Tony Stark’s Arc Reactor, which is fitted inside his chest, is perhaps the ultimate piece of wearable tech. Sadly though, it’s not real, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream. Thanks to ThinkGeek, the dream can take a step towards reality with this special t-shirt, featuring its own little arc reactor, which really lights up. It’s wearable, has technology inside, and references a geek idol. What more could anyone want?
There will be some situations where a Tony Stark-style t-shirt just won’t be suitable, so how about the Takino shirt? It’s smart, but it’s also smart, if you get our meaning. An anti-bacterial nanotech coating will keep it free from germs and wrinkles, and makes it resistant to stains and smells. The Takino has also been designed with the geek in mind. It has a set of ten pockets, some of which are hidden, in which a wide variety of gadgets and accessories can be stored, all without ruining the shirt’s lines.
ZegnaSport Icon Jacket ($1300)
The Zegna name should warn you this will be a pricey piece of wearable tech, and at $1300, it’s the second most expensive product on our list. For that you get a cool jacket in black, red or blue, produced by the world famous fashion house. The techy part comes from the audio and call controls mounted on the wrist, a Bluetooth connection to link them up to your phone or music player, plus an integrated pair of headphones with an in-line microphone. It’s very swish, but this truly cringe-making video produced by Zegna to promote the Icon Jacket does put us off a bit.
Google Glass ($1500)
This is the big one, the hottest wearable tech product on the planet, but if you want to buy Glass for someone, you’re going to have to work hard. Glass isn’t available to the public just yet, but there are ways to get one. Google has given owners of the pre-release editions a set of invitations to hand out, and grabbing one of these is the easiest way to get Glass this Christmas. Check with friends, search eBay (where you may find the specs themselves for sale too), browse Google+, or the r/GoogleGlass subreddit for leads, and you should be able to find something. Be prepared though, Glass still costs $1500, plus whatever you end up paying for the invitation.
Although any of these products would make great gifts on their own, it would be possible to buy each one and completely kit someone out in wearable tech. The cost? All the above would set you back around $3700, and your generosity would turn the lucky recipient into the geekiest person in town.