Just as the smartphone race was beginning to feel a little stagnant in terms or true innovation, wearables came along as way of letting companies try some weird and wild stuff. While there are plenty of “me-too” products out there from corporations and startups alike, we’ve also seen some legitimately creative and unexepected devices. That’s sometimes good, sometimes bad, but nearly always entertaining.
We’ve assembled a mix of forthcoming products that really run the gamut between those we can’t wait to get our hands on to the ones that were best left on the drawing board — or better still, in the rubbish bin underneath.
Each time I ride my bike in New York City, I get the distinct feeling that I’m taking my life into my own hands. Like most bits of safety ephemera, the Glowbelt looks more than a little silly at first, but the retractable light belt is actually a pretty solid idea for cyclists, runners or anyone else concerned about being clipped by a driver in the dark.
You know an industry is sufficiently mature when things like this start cropping up. The unfortunately named Chairolution is — wait for it — a wearable chair. (Seriously though, why not “Chairables?”) Chairolution is essentially a pair of rods that attach to the back of one’s pants that make it possible to have a quick sit-down while remaining on your feet all day. Sure, we’re pushing the current definition of tech wearables with this one, seeing as how Chairolution isn’t exactly equipped to receive tweets. But that’s what you get for being an early adopter.
The Elemoon is a “fashion forward” smart bracelet that seeks to address the dork-centric nature of most early adopter wearables. The major sacrifice here seems to be the absence of clear contextual information, trading in the straight-forward notifications you get on devices like the Pebble for pretty flashing LEDs. Sure, current methods for displaying things like Twitter replies and text messages aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing way to relate information, but if one of the keys selling points of wearables is the ability to keep your smartphone in your pocket, flashing red triangles only offer more motivation to figure out what’s going on.
I’m not sure what to make of this one, but not surprisingly, the company’s low-budget Indiegogo campaign didn’t exactly blanket the public with confidence. The self-described world’s first mobile, wearable 3D-image projector got exactly zero dollars in pledges out of an asking price of $750,000. Maybe it was the lack of video and weirdly Photoshopped artwork — or maybe no one really wants a wearable 3D projector in the first place. The South African company seemed to envision the product as a product as a sort of Star Wars-esque method for carrying on a Skype conversation. The company no doubt had to push back its estimated November 2014 delivery timeframe on this one. By the time the product comes to market, we’ll likely all be outfitted with matching lightsabers.
Now that our watches and jewelry can read us our Facebook status, why not put that smart functionality to good use? Safelet offers a quick and easy way for its wearer to contact 911 in case of an emergency without fumbling for a smartphone. The smart bracelet also features built-in GPS to help emergency responders locate you once contacted. Given the growing presence of such devices, however, you can likely expect to see more of that functionality built into more general-purpose wearables. We could have gone with any number similarly functioning devices for this one, but what can we say, we’re suckers for a good (or lousy, even) portmanteau. There are a ton of safety wearables coming to market, and you can expect that number to continue to increase in the months ahead.
We all saw this coming, right? Someone was bound to cut out the GoPro middle man and begin embedding cameras directly into their extreme sports helmets. The iHelmet (not Cupertino-approved, it seems safe to assume) has both front- and rear-facing cameras built in — and heck, if you’re already making a high-tech helmet, why not toss in things like GPS tracking, smartphone connectivity and an MP3 player?
Our bodies require a certain amount of vitamin D, but too much time in the sun can eventually kill you — or, at the very least, cause your skin to look like an old handbag. Ultra Violet tracks your exposure to the big fiery ball in the sky, communicating with your smartphone when it’s time to reapply sunscreen or just generally seek shelter. File this one under the hyper-specific. Of course, tracking sun exposure is a good thing, but it’s hard to imagine too many people jumping on-board with a smart wearable that does only that — particularly at a suggested retail price of $129 dollars. Add that functionality into a smartwatch or similar device, however, and you might be onto something.