Major news and new releases in the world of wearables
Welcome to the first installment of JCK’s This Month In Wearables—a monthly run-down of what’s hot and happening in the world of wearable devices and technology! This brand new column will publish right here on the last Monday of every month, wrapping up major news and new releases in smart devices.
I’ve been covering wearable devices—and musing about when and how they could impact consumer behaviors and the independent jewelry store—at JCK for nearly two years now. I also write the Who, What, Wearables column, in which I review popular wearables after personally test-driving them. (If you’d like to nominate a certain wearable for review, give me a shout at email@example.com.)
Now, without further ado, here are a few things that shook up the world of wearables this month…
Major Wearables Developers Congregate at CES
The massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES) took over several hangar-sized venues—notably the Sands Expo Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center—in Las Vegas from Jan. 6-10. And though the wearables category still comprises a tiny slice of the products shown at CES, the big players—from Fossil and FitBit to Tag Heuer and Swarovski—were all there, showcasing new releases. Read my full review of CES (including a roundup of my favorite wearables from the show floor) here.
The Hermès Apple Watch Launched Online
It’s been available in a few select stores since fall 2015, but Apple’s splashiest bid for the fashion crowd—the Apple Watch Hermès Collection—launched for online sales this month. Hermès’ part in the collection was creating three leather straps for the signature Apple Watch. But, for Apple, partnering with the iconic French fashion house ups its watch’s luxury quotient considerably. Prices range from $1,100 for a single-tour strap version and $1,500 for one with a thick cuff buckle strap. Will consumers pay that much for a smart watch that’s 100 percent guaranteed to be old news in a couple of years? I guess it is Hermès….
FitBit’s new Blaze watch, which debuted at CES this month
FitBit Fields A Law Suit
On January 5, a class action lawsuit on behalf of consumers nationwide was filed against FitBit—over complaints that its Surge and Charge HR heart rate monitors failed to accurately measure user heart rates. The suit contends that the device’s heart rate monitors “consistently mis-record heart rates by a significant margin, particularly during intense exercise.” That same week in Las Vegas, FitBit debuted the FitBit Blaze, which features a bold, simple unisex design reminiscent of the Apple Watch. FitBit is calling the Blaze a smart fitness watch (as opposed to a smart watch), because it’s meant to operate independently of a smart phone—though it still syncs to the FitBit app for tracking and analysis. Hopefully its heart-rate monitor is rock-solid.
The new Misfit Ray, billed as “Your Most Valuable Accesory”
Fossil Group Announced It Will Release More Than 100 Wearables In 2016
The Fossil Group, which purchased wearable developer Misfit in November 2015, announced early this month that it plans to release more than 100 different wearable devices this year, under both the Fossil Q and Misfit brand names. The accessories company debuted at least a dozen new products at CES, including the elegant, rose-gold Ray device and a host of cute, well-priced Fossil Q Dreamer activity tracker bands.
Swarovski to Release Solar-Powered Fitness Tracker
Swarovski announced that the company will release a solar-powered version of its crystal tracker bracelet in time for this year’s Christmas shopping season. Solar power as a charging source would be a game-changer for wearable developers, since manual charging has been a major deterrent for would-be wearable buyers. Swarovski is partnering with Misfit, which powers its signature crystal tracker, on its solar-powered band.
Beauty Wearables Are Here
When we talk about wearables in the jewelry industry, we’re naturally focused on smart jewelry and watches. But wearable tech is also creating new categories. Beauty companies, for one, are keen on developing devices that add to their offerings. At CES, for example, L’Oreal unveiled a heart-shaped wearable UV-monitoring patch—My UV Patch—that tells you when you’ve had too much fun in the sun. The patch contains photosensitive dyes that change color when exposed to UV rays.
Top images: The Hermes Apple Watch Collection (all images courtesy of the brands)