This Month in Wearables: September 2016

Major news and new releases in the world of wearables

Welcome to JCK‘s This Month in Wearables—a monthly rundown of what’s hot and happening in the world of wearable devices and technology.

Apple Releases Apple Watch Series 2
The Apple Watch Series 2 was released this month (see a white version above), and its design is almost identical to the first Apple Watch. But there are a number of updates, including a waterproof body and dedicated apps for swimming and meditating, which feel like plays for female consumers. 

A sneak peek at Snachat Spectacles (photo courtesy of Snapchat)

Snapchat to Debut Video-Recording Sunglasses
Red-hot social media network Snapchat will launch a pair of sunglasses—Snapchat Spectacles—kitted out with a video camera for easily Snapchatting. And they’re so much cooler than Google Glass—not to mention, at $129.99 a pair, way cheaper. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel talked to the Wall Street Journal about the specs: “It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again. When I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable.” The plastic glasses will come in black, teal, or coral. I feel like the kids will be all over this one. 

IDC Forecasts Smartwatches Sales Will Triple by 2020
In mid-September, a forecast from the International Data Corp. (IDC) predicted that shipments of smartwatches will increase to 20.1 million units in 2016—which is a 3.9 percent increase over the 19.4 million units shipped in 2015. The report also forecast that smartwatch sales will nearly triple by 2020, hitting 54.6 million units (valued at $17.8 billion). Still, the data pointed to slow-but-steady growth in the smartwatch category—a category lacking fireworks at present. 

Michael Kors Unveils First Wearables
Michael Kors, which is licensed to Fossil Group for smart tech, released its first-ever branded activity tracker and smartwatch in mid-September. Dubbed Michael Kors Access, the release includes a sporty tracker and two straightforward smartwatch models—the Bradshaw and the Dylan—with identical technology (see photo at top of the Bradshaw). Both watches, which are powered by Android Wear (but also work with iPhones), feature customizable display faces, wireless charging, built-in fitness tracking through the Google Fit app, and the ability to send and receive notifications from your wrist. There’s also a microphone in both models, so wearers can also use voice activation to search the internet, give apps instruction, or initiate phone calls. Read more on the smartwatch release here

Heart Rate Monitors in Wearables Are in Demand—GPS Is Next
Fashion and apparel data consultancy NPD Group’s Connected Intelligence Wearables Industry Overview and Forecast, which was released this month, found that built-in heart-rate tracking in devices are an in-demand feature for wearables consumers. By the second quarter of 2016, the number of owned activity trackers with built-in heart-rate tracking had risen to roughly 44 percent, up from 12 percent in the same quarter last year. The report also forecast that GPS tracking will be the next must-have wearable function.

(Photo of Michael Kors Access courtesy of Fossil Group; photo of Apple Watch Series 2 courtesy of Apple)

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JCK Senior Editor

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