Reading the coverage from CES in Las Vegas last week, there seems to be broad agreement that Wearables will be the stand-out tech trend in 2014.
But what genuinely breakthrough products and technology were showcased at CES, and which, if any, might be expected to gain widespread consumer adoption?
1. Lumus DK-40 smartglasses
OK, they could do with some help in the name, but the Lumus glasses – which project a Head-up display (HUD) like Google’s much discussed Glass – killer feature is pin-sharp optics, to transform user experience. They have done this using embedded prisms as part of a coating onto the glass.
Lumus will not be marketing their glasses, they are a showcase for the technology that Lumus hopes to sell to product manufacturers.
The smart glasses category (is it a category yet? Seems to be headed that way) will need this kind of technology innovation to go mainstream, and Lumus could be helping to drive HUD technology in that direction.
2. Intel moves to smart products strategy with Edison
Rather than a single product or technology, Intel’s announcement of a raft of connected, wearable products developments is a marker that the Internet of Things (objects, products, some wearable, that are made ‘smart’ using embedded technology) is going to be a major part of the tech scene for the next few years.
Among the products that Intel trailed at CES:
- A smart onsie for babies (using Intel’s new ‘Edison’ chip) that transmits the baby’s breathing and other data to a connected coffee cup (why a coffee cup?)
- A headset nicknames ‘Jarvis’ that can integrate with a smartphone personal assistant app.
- A collaboration with Barney’s New York and the Council of the Fashion Designers of America to collaborate on bringing future wearables to market.
While none of these is revolutionary in its own right, what makes this a huge story is Intel’s scale and their strategic intent. This isn’t a clever start-up on Kickstarter looking for $30,000…
3. Er, surprisingly little that could be gamechanging
The biggest products we’re anticipating in wearable tech — an iWatch, newer Google Glass, a Google watch, and maybe a Microsoft device — aren’t here yet. More importantly, those companies are bound to build services and software that transform wearables as a platform the way the iPhone influenced Android and rewrote the smartphone industry. Once those players emerge, the wearables game will change again…so, for now, it looks like nobody wants to make a bold and foolish splash like the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Things will change once Google, Apple and Microsoft stake claims.
So the headline is that 2014 could well be the year when connected products, including wearables (Notifiiers, Trackers, and Glasses) move from minority Geek usage to smartphone-style mass adoption. But CES was not the show where the battle lines between the main players were drawn.
Our view is that making wearables desirable is a least a big a challenge as the technology, and vital to achieve mass adoption. The recently announced partnership between Tory Burch and Fitbit (TechCrunch story) is an example of this kind of product development as, arguably, is Angela Ahrendts high-profile move from Burberry to Apple.