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January 2017

Wearables

#1 trend in fitness

Wearable technology that helps with activity tracking has been the top fitness trend for the past two yeares. These devices that provide entertainment or watch all your moves can nowadays be worn any place: in your ears, clothing, shoes, eyewear — and, of course, also in a watch on your wrist, reports GERRIE VAN EEDEN. Additional information: Trudi du Toit

The huge market for wearable technology just keeps on getting bigger and bigger. This year, sales are expected to top $6-bn globally. The term wearables includes everything from the normal heart rate monitor, to smart glasses, smart watches and even sports headphones that also act as an activity tracker.

Incorporated technology is the main reason why wearables are such a big deal. We live in an age where people want an app to monitor and track everything, so why not exercise as well?

Speakers at the last Wearable Technologies (WT) Conference (held in July 2016 in San Francisco) showed what the future of the fitness industry would look like when products like a sweat sensor patch, a dehydration sensor, or gym watch that tracks and implements coaching tips for weightlifting routines, become common.

While wrist-worn technology is still a smart and safe bet, the wave of wearable technology is slowly ebbing from wrist-based hardware towards electronics that are seamlessly embedded into the equipment and even clothing we wear, like smart shorts with a sensor that transmits coaching data to wireless headphones.

Technology developed for the aerospace industry that can sense human activity and body functions through hats, visors, helmets and wireless headphones will become features of fitness coaching in the future, speakers at the WT conference predicted.

Everyday use of these inventions are not too far in the future.

A market research company like Juniper Research already estimate that the wearable technology market will this year be worth $6-bn with smart glasses sales predicted at $1.5-bn and sales of smart fabrics and interactive textiles expected to reach $2.6-bn by 2017.

In South Africa, consumers have been sticking largely to wristables with a built in heart rate monitor, according to Chantal Grobler from TomTom SA. These are still their biggest seller. Add to that the ability to play music, an integrated touch screen and linking up with a mobile phone, and you have a winner among local consumers.

Do your children get enough exercise? The Swiss wearables brand Garmin is bringing the first fitness tracker for children aged four to ten with vívofit jr. to the market. Using the tracker, parents can assign chores and even hand out virtual rewards, Garmin says.

Although not directly sold through retail, downloadable fitnesss apps owned by athletic brands are creating fitness communities, which can generate loyalty to the brand’s other products in retail.

There seems to be no end to the ingenious electronic products regularly coming on to the market — especially at shows like the Consumer Electronics and Consumer Technology trade show and the The Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona. Among the products with Wow!

factor that Christian Stammel, CEO of Wearable-Technologies at ISPO saw there, are:

  • A 3D shoe that changes its cushioning and outsole to adapt to the way you run.
  • Instead of a smart watch, you can use a smart strap that can be attached to any make of style of watch. The strap provides information about your state of health.
  • Oakley & Intel’s smart eyewear has a voice-activated coaching system to generate a personalised training programme.
  • A cycling backpack with LEDs and flexible sensors embedded in the fabric mimics traffic signals to alert drivers behind the cyclist when he intends to turn or stop.
  • A super small nanocomputer in a golf glove scans the grip, speed, and overall motion sequence of the player, providing feedback.

Hearables a big hit

“The big hit (at the Mobile Congress) were virtual reality headsets,” reports Stammel. “Until now the focus was mostly on wrist-based heart rate monitors, but ear-based biometric headphones have their advantages.

The reason why there are nowadays so many hearable devices available for the sports market is because the ear is potentially a better place for retrieving biometrics than the wrist, because there is less movement and the skin is thinner, which makes reading easier. For this reason they are more accurate.

Skullcandy: affordable hearables

Ear buds and headphones may be the latest fashion accessories among youngsters, but they also have to provide superb sound, feel comfortable in the ear and provide easy access to your music or training app while you are on the go.

Skullcandy, locally distributed by Luks Brands is the designer and manufacturer of headphones, ear buds and head sets that tick all these boxes. Their buds and wireless headphones not only sound good, they also look good.What’s more, they are affordable.

The range of Chops Buds Skullcandy ear buds in sleek designs and eyecatching colours, are sweat resistant and are designed to fit comfortably in or around the ear.

A bluetooth wireless connec-tor, which can be worn like a collar around the neck, provides stability during even vigorous activities.

They also feature call and track control.


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