CES Kicks Off With A Focus on Wearables

CES 2014 officially launched today, and the as the product unveils and press releases started flowing, it was immediately clear that 2014 was going to be a year that digital health enthusiasts in attendance would have lots of new toys to see and try, but sadly nothing remarkably different from what has long been available.

The biggest splash in the wearables market was the unveil of Pebble’s newly designed smartwatch. The new Pebble, called Pebble Steel, doesn’t bring any new functionality to the market, but instead focuses on a redesigned form factor. The new device comes with a stainless steel body, a Gorilla Glass display, and a new band. Helping to drive the Pebble buzz was the announcement that it would launch its app store this month, and Pandora, ESPN, Mercedes-Benz, Yelp, Foursquare, GoPro, and iControl have all committed to coding apps for the new device.

Meanwhile Corning is showcasing new smartphone Gorilla Glass that it is claiming has antibacterial properties. The glass contains infused silver ions which allow it to keep the surface bacteria free.

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The already overcrowded activity tracker market has attracted increased attention over the last year. The hype has led to a whole host of different companies unveiling new trackers. Basis introduced its new Carbon Steel Edition activity tracker. Like the new Pebble, the actual heart of this new activity tracker is identical to Basis’ original model, the B1, but the new unit got a facelift that includes a chrome overcoat and a new wristband.

LG jumps into the activity tracker market with a unit that resembles the Nike Fuelband. The device measures activity as well as most other trackers, but also pairs with a smartphone and delivers some basic smartwatch features, including music control, volume control, call notifications, and call silencing. LG also unveiled a pair of headphones that actively monitors heart rate and transmits the data to its activity tracker.

Garmin, which once dominated the GPS market, has thrown its chips into digital health as its next big consumer electronics venture. Boasting a one-year battery life, Garmin’s new tracker is a wrist-worn unit that measures steps, calories burned, heart rate, and sleep patterns.

Sony unveiled a new wrist worn activity tracker, its second attempt to break into the wearables market after its failed attempt at a smartwatch last year. The company is still being quiet about details, but hands on analysis suggests that rather than a sensor-based tracker, Sony’s device will act as a logger of all things digital: activity, music, social media, and location. The company promises full details next month during its formal unveil at Mobile World Congress.

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Netatmo introduces a new wrist worn tracker that, rather than measuring activity, measures sun exposure over time. The accompanying app will alert wearers of when UV protection is needed most.

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