Welcome to The Wearable Weekly, your trusted guide to all things wearable tech. If you only have time to read one thing about wearables this week, this is it.
It’s 2007 all over again! The Apple Watch is stirring up some major controversy and debate, which we arguably haven’t seen from an Apple product since the debut of the iPhone. The amount of articles predicting the fate of the Apple Watch grows the closer we get to the April 24 release date, and I expect we will continue to see many “Apple Failed” headlines post-launch regardless what the numbers say. But it isn’t just the numbers people are talking about. This week we saw some old fear tactics, surface including whether Apple’s new watch could give us cancer.
The Apple Watch was expected to influence sales for the entire smartwatch industry and it looks like it’s working. The Pebble Time Kickstarter campaign was reported to have brought in 167% more per hour the day after the Apple Watch event. I expect to see this Apple Watch effect continue to increase smartwatch sales of competitor devices, especially around April 24, when the Apple Watch is released and buyers start to weigh their options.
Swiss watchmakers and fashion brands are finally making some bold moves in the wearable space as we saw Tag Heuer, Gucci and Swatch all make announcements this week. Fashion has been one of the major missing elements in the wearable industry. Partnerships like Android & Tag mark a key shift for wearables which begin to offer buyers accessories they are already buying that are now connected rather than tech gadgets that are trying to take their place.
Amongst all this talk of wrist-worn gadgets, smart clothing was the key trend coming out of the UK’s largest Wearable Tech Show. Clothing that keeps you warm, gives you directions, and measures your health made up a good percentage of the showroom floor in London last week, echoing a report from Gartner which suggests that this wearable segment is ready to explode.
Statistics & Forecasts
About 40% of adult Apple iPhone owners in the US are interested in buying the Apple Watch (Reuters)
VR to be the next big thing in gaming, with 26.5 million units sold in 2020 (BI Intelligence)
There will be over 3 billion sensors in wearable technology devices by 2025, with more than 30% being emerging sensor types (IDTechEx Report)
Tag Heuer Smartwatch | Android Wear smartwatch | by end of year
Neptune Suite | wearable as a hub with companion dummy screens | February 2016
Impression PI | VR headset | September 2015
Gucci and i.am+ smartband| standalone smartwatch | TBD
HiSmart | connected bag | July 2015
Funding, Crowdfunding and M&A
Neptune has raised over $800,000 in pre-orders for its wearable-centric device suite and is now continuing its funding on Indiegogo (BetaKit)
Impression PI successfully raised over $100,000 of its $78,000 goal on Kickstarter in first week for its VR headset (Kickstarter)
HiSmart smart bag raised over $70,000 of its $50,000 goal in its first week on Indiegogo (Indiegogo)
Orb Health raised $650,000 from incubator Health Wildcatters, Green Park and Golf Ventures, and others for its platform that helps patients and providers access a patient’s lab data and wearable device health data (MobiHealthNews)
Pebble launched a developer fund in the amount of $1M to support the creation of third-party smartstraps for its Pebble Time (MobileSyrup)
Biometric earbuds, FreeWavz, won the Wearable Tech award at SXSW (PRNewswire)
Microsoft Band announced its UK launch date for the Microsoft Band, its first country outside of the US (Engadget)
Gazelle announced it will add the Apple Watch to its trade-in site (CNET)
Apple is reported to be assembling an augmented reality team to experiment with AR devices (Apple Insider)
Xiaomi rumored to be launching affordable smartwatch featuring a large dial and pulse wave velocity identification (PhoneArena)
Google may be working on a cancer treating wearable wristband that uses magnetic nanoparticles (Global News)
Could iOS support for Android Wear be coming soon? New video shows Android Wear accepting incoming iPhone calls without modifications (9to5Google)
China’s Li Ning and Xiaomi are reportedly working on a smart running shoe (Reuters)
Oculus Rift may not launch this year (Gizmodo)
Swatch still on track to deliver NFC-capable smartwatches to facilitate payments (MobileSyrup)