Wearable tech has become one of the biggest trends in sports tech these days, and nothing seems to be changing. At the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show 2017, which occurred early this month, wearable tech was everywhere.
In fact, many of the wearable tech that was announced at CES 2017 could be found not just around wrists but on feet and pulled over heads. Multiple companies either launched brand new products or updates to existing wearables. Let’s take a look:
Fitbit and Garmin were two of the biggest names announcing new products and updates at CES. Fitbit, which recently purchased crowdfunding upstart Pebble, announced the launch of a redesign to its Fitstar personal trainer app. The redesign will now include personalized workouts based on user data. It also includes a larger library of workouts so that the user can customize workouts for herself. This includes the ability to work with either of two certified personal trainers, Adrian and Lea. Work out with one then the other and choose who motivates you more.
The wearable giant is also proving itself to be a leader in both building brand loyalty and building brand partnerships. As illustrated by the University of Southern California, building brand loyalty means a willingness to be both reliable and daring, and the new partnerships Fitbit announced at CES showed this willingness. The company is partnering with nutrition app Habit as well as indoor training bike company Peloton and virtual reality sports pioneer VirZOOM.
Garmin, which houses its advanced technology labs in Salem, Oregon, also announced multiple product releases and app updates at CES. One of its big wearable announcements is the fenix 5S, which is designed exclusively for women.
Another is its partnership with Uber ETA. This partnership will allow Garmin users to download Uber ETA from Garmin’s Connect IQ store. Uber’s estimated time data will then update directly to the Garmin user’s wearable. Garmin is also adding Trek and Bontrager apps to its Connect IQ store for Garmin bike computers and other wearables.
These two industry leaders were just the tips of the wearables iceberg.
Another big part of the wearable iceberg at CES Vegas was the technology known as smart fabrics. This new wearable tech is rapidly becoming sports tech 101, as it easily integrates into a variety of sports as well as fitness levels. Under Armour introduced Athlete Recovery Sleepwear, a partnership with Tom Brady, that harnesses infrared technology to absorb body heat and regulate temperature, keys to better sleep. This technology may help even those who do not engage in performance sports but struggle to get consistent sleep, as temperature regulation has been proved key to getting a better night’s sleep.
Polar, which has marketed smart fitness watches before they were cool, is now developing smart apparel. Part of its Team Pro line, which caters to professional athletes, the Pro Team Shirt is said to do what a traditional chest strap heart monitor does but more comfortably. It is also expected to have integrated GPS.
SwingIQ introduced its smart baseball training shirt, designed to read a hitter’s swing and collect training data. VIVOBAREFOOT, one of the leaders in the “barefoot” shoe movement, announced its partnership with Sensoria to create a smart running shoe. The shoe is based on VIVOBAREFOOT’s existing Primus model and will include a sensor on the heel that feeds data on foot strike, stride, cadence, etc., to an app on the runner’s phone.
One of the most unique and innovative investments to come out of CES Vegas this year came all the way from the United Kingdom: Bodytrak. Using in-ear technology and leveraging the physiology of the ear, Bodytrak collects vital signs from the ear canal. Proving that in-ear headphones aren’t just for fitness nuts, Bodytrak is being tested in healthcare markets as well as first response and military markets. Each earphone stands alone and connects via Bluetooth or ANT+, allowing connection to Garmin devices as well as mobile devices. Of couse, earphones are always improving. However, some earphones, such as these tv ears digital earphones, can be used for both entertainment and also to help people with hearing issues. This sort of technology not only benefits people with good hearing, it can also benefit those who can’t understand music and TV programs. There is a wide range of earphone technology on the market that can be used for more than just fitness.
While many of these technologies are still in the development stage, some are yet in the funding stage. CES provides big tech companies as well as startups the opportunity to showcase their innovations each year, and sports tech is a constantly-growing sector at CES. There’s never a wrong time to invest in startups, and there’s always a great opportunity to show off a new innovation. Especially at CES.