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The International Consumer Electronics Show kicked off this week, and one of the most buzzworthy trends to emerge was wearable technology.
Gadgets embedded in socks, watches, glasses, and headphones filled the expo's inventory. But do consumers actually want this technology? The New York Times notes that wearable tech will become a $10 million market by 2016, but right now, most items are bulky and unattractive, compromising fashion for fancy features.
After scouring the options presented at CES, we rounded up the top five gadgets we can imagine real people wearing, and asked the opinion of Valentina Palladino, a reviews editor at The Verge. Palladino attended CES this week and here, shares her opinions on this new wave of connectedness.
Image via Sensoria site.
The Sensoria Fitness Bra
This sports bra is made of material that is compatible with a heart monitor. The bra eliminates the use of any annoying straps (the heart monitor easily clips onto the material) and it promises comfort.
Pros: Machine washable, comfortable.
Cons: Does not include a heart rate monitor! Shoppers must purchase that separately.
Where to purchase: Preorder on the Sensoria site; item officially available after January 13.
Palladino: "This idea is super interesting to me. Most fitness trackers have to be strapped to your wrist or on your arm, and they can be cumbersome if you're running or doing a workout with lots of movement because they could fall off. It seems like an obvious idea to put a heart monitor on a piece of clothing like a bra that lies close to your heart when you wear it. If it works like it says it does, my only other question would be how comfortable it is. Some women hate wearing regular bras, so I think it would have to be an extremely comfortable, second skin-like product to really take off."
Image via The Verge.
Intel Smart Earbuds
This computer chip company is just beginning to dabble in wearable tech, introducing headphones that track your heart rate and running route to a compatible app. The earphones also match your music to your heartbeat.
Pros: Looks just like normal headphones, rubber piece fits in ear with ease.
Cons: What if your heart is pounding but you fancy slow music while running?
Where to purchase: Intel will release item later in 2014.
Palladino: "In addition to being accurate, one of the most important things about earbuds is that they stay in your ears. I've also never really heard of smart earbud fitness trackers, so I'm interested to hear how they actually track your heart rate and other metrics. The way this product will work is if people do not realize that the earbuds do anything other than let you listen to music. If they look like 'smart earbuds' and make you stand out in a crowd of runners, it won't take off."
Image via Lumolift site.
The Lumo Lift
You can't always have your grandmother around criticizing your posture, so it's a good thing there's Lumolift, a small chip that monitors your posture and vibrates when you slouch. The small magnetic chip is available in seven different colors, can be clipped on clothing surface or underneath, and tracks your back posture on its app.
Pros: Gives you feedback on posture, reminds you to stand up straight.
Cons: Battery-run, needs to be charged
Where to purchase: Preorder on the Lumobody site; available Spring 2014.
Palladino: "We all have such bad posture, and it would be great to have a device like this that could silently and passively let you know when you're slouching. However, I do think a price tag of $69 is a bit high for a gadget that only does one very specific thing."
Image via Garmin site.
The GPS company is stepping into the already crowded fitness tracker category with the Vivofit. The dainty rubber wristlet is waterproof, claims a battery life of up to a year, and is available in five different colors. The band will remind users when they are slacking off and need to move based off an algorithm extrapolated from their standard daily movements.
Pros: Light, great battery life.
Cons: Only comes in two sizes, heart monitor feature costs extra.
Where to purchase: Later in 2014 (exact date TBD)
Palladino: "The Vivofit has a few cool features like automatically creating activity goals for you based on your current activity level. However it's still not that much different than the other fitness trackers out there, so I couldn't really recommend it over another, similar one. Also, the design screams Garmin—which I'm sure will attract many loyal Garmin fangirls and fanboys, but ultimately it's just another fitness tracker in a sea of fitness trackers."
Image via CSR site.
CSR Bluetooth Necklace
Using Bluetooth technology, this necklace, which has a sort of hippie retro style, has users' smart phone notifications pushed to it. The necklace was designed by British jewelry company Cellini and its color scheme can be changed by phone.
Pros: Stylish, can be customized.
Cons: Sort of useless.
Cost: Starter kit costs $99
Where to purchase: Full product to be released in 2014, starter kit can be ordered from the CSR site.
Palladino: "I'm excited about this necklace because it actually looks like a beautiful necklace. Partnering with Cellini to make a really lovely piece of jewelry was a smart more on CSR's part. However, I don't really know if I need a necklace that lights up or vibrates when I get a text message. Is it really the best form factor for tracking that kind of data?"