Wearables you may never wear
2015 is poised to be the year of wearable everything, with the Apple Watch and Microsoft's HoloLens on the horizon, as well as an increasing number of fitness trackers, headsets and perhaps even the second coming of Google Glass. The trend was on full display at CES 2015 in Las Vegas earlier this month, where we spotted lots of new wearables, including many that we'd be shocked to ever see in the wild.
Whether they are way too niche, weird, immature or just a clear case of someone making a wearable because they could, we've compiled the following collection of wearables you'll probably never wear.
A wristband to watch your sun exposure
You only have so much room on your wrists, which makes us skeptical that many customers would give up that valuable flesh real estate for this useful, but still single purpose wearable that tries to ensure you get just the right amount of Vitamin D from the sun without getting burned. The idea here is to eliminate the need for sunscreens while still getting a healthy dose of sunshine.
Over 250 people were interested enough in the less-than-stylish bracelets to contribute to a successful Indiegogo campaign in 2013 and the company seemed to draw some interest at a start-up pitch competition at CES 2015 we attended. So perhaps you'll be seeing this at the beach in the near future after all, but don't expect sunscreen to become a thing of the past as a result anytime soon.
Smart glasses that watch you watch the world
The most awesomely weird wearable on display at CES 2015 were the Jins Meme smart glasses from Japan that are equipped with cameras that watch the wearer. That's right, it's inverted Google Glass. So far, the main application for Jins Meme is monitoring wearers to notify them when they are becoming exceedingly drowsy or sleepy. This is actually something that Google Glass also does via an app, but Jins Meme notes that its glasses are more or less indistinguishable from regular spectacles, unlike Glass.
It's hard to imagine anyone wearing these things who hasn't been forced to, perhaps by an employer, but at CES the company also showed a variety of more fashionable frames and issued a call for developers to dream up other uses for the data they collect, so expect to hear more soon.
Smart rings not quite a thing
Not only are there smart rings in this world, there are competing smart rings out there. So far they come in two basic varieties. First, there are smart, gesture control devices like Nod or Ring that basically allow you to control your computer, devices and connected smart home appliances - curtains, lights or whatever - with simple movements. Second are rings with a tiny display that put your mobile notifications on your finger, like the Mota smart ring.
We tried both Nod and Ring at CES 2015, and while cool, they're both pretty clunky and seem a little like a solution in search of a problem. As for notifications on a ring, let's slow down a little bit until people show some more interest in the idea of notifications on a slightly larger display, like a smartwatch.
Also from the problems-you-didn't-know-you-had department comes smart earplugs called Hush. There's a certain hyper-connected kind of person who needs to block out the world to get decent sleep but still be able to receive phone calls, texts and alarms. Then again, we've managed to build a decent society without that ability until now.
Easily the scariest wearable we saw at CES 2015 was TrackingPoint's precision-guided firearm setup. Reps there liked to compare it to putting the targeting ability you might expect from a fighter jet at your fingertips. Connect special smart glasses to this wifi-enabled gun and you'll be able to hit a target from hundreds of yards off without even looking, literally. If you do run into someone wearing this setup in the wild, be sure to make friends right away.
There are now hundreds of devices, at least, that can track your steps, but few of them can keep your feet warm at the same time. The Glagla Connect smart Bluetooth-enabled shoe is that intelligent piece of footwear, able to track steps, calories, altitude and soon, heat up your toes when it's chilly. Unfortunately, they aren't the most stylish clogs in the world just yet, but the selling point that they track your activity more accurately than most other fitness trackers seems believable.
Babies need wearables too
Pacifi, the smart pacifier from BlueMaestro, probably will be a revolution for some parents, thanks to its ability to keep a constant eye on your child's temperature and relay it back to a mobile app. Others might find it a little creepy to have their child already connected and inducted in to the quantified self movement before being able to walk or talk.
Keeping your head above water
The iSwimband has taken up the noble goal of preventing drowning accidents. When worn on the wrist or attached to goggles, it sends a notification back to an app when it is submerged for a dangerous amount of time. It's going to be tough to convince parents that such a wearable can be more effective than vigilant supervision, but tragic accidents do happen, even when lifeguards and caretakers are supposed to be on watch.
It's just an activity tracker, really!
It makes perfect sense that an activity tracker worn on the ankle rather than the wrist or arm would be more accurate at keeping track of steps, like the makers of the Flyfit anklet told us at CES 2015. That's all fine, and so is the product. There's just one problem: It looks an awful lot like the ankle-worn tracking devices used by law enforcement to monitor people under house arrest or some other court mandated geographical limitation.
There's plenty more where these came from...
Really, CES was packed with a huge variety of wearable or portable connected devices. Way more than we could keep track of or even get full details on. We've included a few more in our image gallery, and be sure to check out our full coverage of CES 2015.