Wearable fitness technology highlights CES 2014

With more than 3,200 exhibitors sharing their innovations among 150,000 plus delegates across an event area exceeding 178,000 square metres, the 2014 International CES is truly an amazing place. The future of consumer technology is on display.

New product innovations ranging from next generation home entertainment, to wearable technology, Internet infrastructure appliances, gaming, automotive connectivity, robotics, and a whole section of products dedicated to supporting today’s busy parents in the Mommy Tech Zone are on display. Today’s story from the floor of the 2014 International CES comes from the Living in Digital Times Innovation Summit held this morning with a focus on wearable fitness tech.

“More and better sensors, smart Bluetooth connectivity, smart data collection, smaller form factors, and a social media community has helped create the building blocks for a set of tools to help everyone from rank amateurs to professional athletes” said Robin Raskin, founder of Living in Digital Times, the Summit’s parent company.

The demand for unobtrusive, multifunction wearable fitness technology is driven by the aging boomer demographic combined with the expectation of millennials to have everything digital all the time and anywhere. The market impact is a big one.  A recent Consumer Electronics Association study found that consumer interest in purchasing dedicated wearable fitness devices is the next 12 months quadrupled to 13 per cent in 2013 from just 3 per cent in 2012.

This current demand and the prospect of an ever increasing expectation of constant connectivity from the upcoming, digital native, Generation Z is driving a growing interest in startup innovation from the likes of Spree Sports, Jaybird, and Vancouver, Canada based Mio, as well as research and development investment from established fitness companies like Adidas and Reebok. It is also moving large consumer electronics product companies such as LG to expand into this growing market.

Adidas has produced a next generation wrist worn monitor that is a step above anything else on the market.  The Adidas SMART RUN watch has a GPS, music player, full color touch screen and heart-rate monitoring capabilities. The product has a strong Canadian connection as it incorporates Mio’s heart rate monitoring technology. Mio’s ability to accurately measure heart rate over a broad range of finess levels from beginner to elite athlete without the need for a chest strap gives the Smart Run watch a decided advantage. The sleek integration of the rest of the applications makes it just that much better.

LG is quickly moving to carve out a place in this space with their Lifeband Touch bracelet. It tracks your activity and provides a touch-sensitive screen on the top of the band giving access to data in real time. It also alerts the user to incoming text messages and phone calls via a Bluetooth smartphone connection.  LG’s Heart Rate ear buds are paired with the Lifeband Touch providing a means to both listen to music and measure your heart rate.  LG has released these products to run on both Android and iOS giving them an advantage across the smartphone spectrum.

With the wearable fitness market poised to grow quickly over the next year it will be interesting indeed to check out next year’s offerings at the International CES 2015.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Dave O'Leary
Dave O'Leary
Dave is a founding managing partner of REDDS Venture Investment Partners (www.reddsvip.com). His career in post-secondary education included roles as CIO, Vice-President and acting President. Dave is a member of the Practitioner Board of the Association for Computing Machinery. He chairs the ACM Practitioner Board Marketing Committee and is also a second term member of the Board's Professional Development Committee. (ACM - Association for Computing Machinery--official IFIP international member representative, largest and most respected international computing science, research, education, innovation professional association well known for their AM Turing Award (Nobel of computing) with 1 million USD prize, 1.5 millions user digital library, 2 million reach, learning center, Applicative conference, Queue magazine, 200 conferences/events, 78 publications/news, 37 Special Interest Groups). He is a board director of the Global Industry Council and the immediate Past President of the Canadian Information Processing Society of British Columbia. Dave is co-founder and director of an ISV computer technology business and is currently leading and advising start ups in the USA, China, Europe, and Canada. He serves as a task force member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and is the past chair of the Canadian National Council of Deans of Information and Communications Technology. He served two terms as a director of the Canadian National Information and Communications Technology Sector Council advising on National technology and economic strategy. Dave has appeared as a panel member in a number of Microsoft webcasts and has presented globally on the business and technical impacts of technology in training. He is the recipient (2002) of the highest national award for leadership in post-secondary education.

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