Riding the crest of a wave created by Google Glass and thousands of different fitness bands, industry analysts are predicting that the market for wearable tech will be worth a bazillion dollars pretty soon. We visited the first-ever Wearable Technology Show in London to take a look at the gadgets you’ll soon be attaching to yourself.
Fancy getting into virtual reality gaming, but don’t have the readies for an Oculus Rift? the vrAse uses very similar lenses but needs no display of its own - you just slot your phone into the back and use its screen and a compatible app for a 3D virtual reality experience that we’d say is equal or perhaps slightly superior to a first-gen Oculus Rift. Because there’s a lot less tech in the case the developers expect to sell the vrAse for a lot less money - they’re aiming to keep it below $100 - and they’ll be releasing an SDK that they say will make it very easy for app developers to make their apps compatible.
READ MORE: Hands-on with the Oculus Rift V2
JUST A SMALL GLASS
Aside from the vrAse, perhaps the most impressive piece of hardware we’ve seen at the Wearable Technology Show is this pair of smart glasses. They’re a reference time from display manufacturer Kopin, which makes some of the very small, very high-resolution screens found in the electronic viewfinders in cameras. They place an absolutely tiny display in one corner of your vision - if Google Glass is like holding an iPad at arm’s length, this is like holding a phone at arm’s length. Unlike Glass, however, the display is small enough that it can completely disappear into the frame of the glasses, so you just look like you’re wearing a chunky pair of specs, and because the display is smaller, it effectively disappears when you’re not looking up.
READ MORE: about Google Glass
While most fitness trackers use an accelerometer to gauge your movement, the Mbody shorts use contact sensors to measure how hard individual muscles are working. A companion app gives your personal trainer or physio a readout of the muscle load on each ham and quad, allowing them to identify the imbalances that can lead to injuries. The only visible tech aside from the pants themselves is a small and very light box, about half the size of a pack of cards, which clips into place just above your Unmentionable Region.
GLO FOR IT
Wearables don’t need to have screens, and in fact a lot of people think it’s better if they use simple notifications. The Glofaster running jacket is a good example: it might look like a fairly standard jacket with some LED-lit piping, but the clever part is the way in which the illumination is used. Alongside its safety features, the lighting can flash to tell you that you’ve dropped below your target heart rate, or that you’ve reached your target distance, or that it’s time to turn back. A lipstick-sized minibrain plugs into the jacket inside the pocket and communicates from phone to jacket, and the developer tells us more functionality and even games could be added with simple software upgrades.
The Glofaster is available to preorder from Kickstarter.