Technology has become such an integral part of our day-to-day lives, that it is essential to have it with us wherever and whenever. Wearable technology makes this even easier, and is just as the name suggests: technology, or smart electronic devices, that can be worn, either as an addition to the body or incorporated into clothing.
Consumer wearable technology options are dominated by smartwatches and activity trackers, but aside from these the field has expanded into navigation systems, smart clothing and healthcare applications. We’ve got a rundown of a few of the most popular smart watch options, as well as a few other wearable technology options which are focused on health applications outside of counting steps, and one wearable tech option that is just for fun.
This complete fitness smartwatch, made by Huami, is a great option. It’s extremely affordable, with a reflective display which is always on and is easy to read in direct sunlight (a great benefit in Cayman), has a very long battery life (we’re talking weeks, or 45 days if heart rate monitoring isn’t always on), onboard GPS, barometer, geomagnetic sensor, heart rate tracking, 3-axis accelerometer for activity, sports and sleep tracking, phone notifications, water resistance and works with Android and iOS. It also weighs a miniscule 31 grams.
The Amazfit Bip, however, may feel a bit rough around the edges compared to other, more expensive options. Its relatively low price is a bonus but does show in the plastic design and lack of installable apps. If you’re used to the Fitbit app for fitness or health tracking, you may be disappointed in the Mi Fit app as it isn’t as refined.
Despite these things, this is a great smartwatch, and at US$99.99, how can you turn that down?
Compatibility: iOS and Android
Apple Watch Series 3
Obviously when the buzzwords ‘wearable tech’ are mentioned, many people’s first thoughts are the Apple Watch, originally released in 2015 and now on its third version.
The Series 3 is the same overall size as last year’s model and two forms are available, one with cellular activity onboard and one with just GPS. With the cellular connection option you can take phone calls, email, use Siri and read messages, all from the convenience of your wrist.
On the activity side of things, version 3 offers improvements in fitness tracking; a barometer has been added to the GPS, and the watch is swim-proof and has run and cycle tracking on board. Gym users will delight in its ability to pair its heart rate tracker with compatible gym equipment (although finding this compatible equipment may be a hurdle). This new series also features activity metrics and workouts for wheelchair users.
Three Apple Watch activity rings – move, exercise and stand, motivate you by showing you how active you are, and prompt you to close the rings, get personal bests or achieve milestones.
Downsides to the Apple Watch are a limited battery life which is drained when using the watch for calls or GPS, and the watch still needs an iPhone to set up and pair with and is not Android friendly. The cost is also restrictive for many, with different versions retailing on the Apple website for between US$329 – $749, and the Hermes or ceramic versions from an astounding $1199 – $1399.
The Apple Watch 4 could be released any day now, with rumors of updates such as larger screen, bigger battery, and the chance of an official sleep tracking app.
Garmin Vivo series
Garmin has a lot of options when it comes to wearable tech, with watches aimed at everyone from new runners to swimmers and ultra-marathoners. Their latest offerings include the three new Vivos.
The Vivomove HR comes in Sport or Premium options and looks awesome with male and female versions. It is the most aesthetically pleasing of the trio, perfect for those who don’t want to look like they are always wearing a smart watch. It has a discreet digital display, heart rate monitor for high level fitness tracking, advanced notifications, music controls, five days of battery life in smart mode or two weeks as a normal watch. Retails at US$199.99.
The Vivoactive has GPS tracking for phone-free runs, and a new Garmin Pay feature for contactless NFC purchases for Visa and Mastercard cardholders – although we’re not sure this is applicable in Cayman just yet. The Vivoactive 3 boasts a week’s battery life in smartwatch mode and 13 hours when GPS is on. The Vivoactive 3 Music upgrade has music player support. Retails at US$219.99.
The Vivosport has an always-on color display, built in GPS connectivity, heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking features. It’s slimmer than its predecessor, the Vivosmart HR+, but also has a smaller screen. The GPS is great for walking, running, cycling or cardio training and links in with the Connect companion app. Retails at US$169.99.
Compatibility: iOS and Android
Fitbit is another household name when it comes to wearable tech. Since its original Classic Fitbit, released in 2009, its has released a further 16 fitness trackers, as well as Wi-Fi scales and earbuds.
Its 2018 smartwatch offering is the Versa, which feels like the same watch as the 2017 Fitbit Ionic, but with a lighter and friendlier design and a much lower price point. The Fitbit Versa is cheaper than the Apple Watch and has a much better battery life at an estimated 4 days depending on usage.
The Versa has an aluminum case and weighs just 38 grams, is water resistant up to 50M, works with iOS and Android, and offers easy fitness stat readouts on its improved interface. The smart watch has a simplified dashboard for viewing health and fitness data, sleep and heart-rate tracking, connectivity to a music library and Pandora stations, and notifications.
Even with a promised 4 days, battery life still leaves something to be desired compared to some others, as does the lack of GPS. While there is 2.5GB storage for music, the music transfer and app loading can sometimes be complicated. Its lower price, however, overtakes its limitations as it retails on the Fitbit website for US$199.95, with special editions costing $229.95.
Compatibility: Android, iOS
Siren Diabetic Socks
About 56 percent of diabetic foot ulcers become infected, and 20 percent of those with infected foot wounds end up with some type of amputation. Siren has created a wearable tech product specifically for this market; socks with seamless and virtually invisible microsensors woven in to the Neurofabric which can detect whether a person faces a diabetic foot problem and alert the user with a smartphone notification or text message. The sensors continuously monitor foot temperature so people can detect signs of inflammation, the precursor to diabetic foot ulcers. Monitoring foot temperature is clinically proven to be the most effective way of catching foot injuries, up to 87 percent more effective at preventing diabetic foot ulcers than standard diabetic foot care. The socks are expected ship later this year, and people can preorder a plan for US$19.95 per month.
This wearable tech is not a fitness tracker. Unless you count Snapchat story likes as cardio, that is.
More for the social media mavens than the gym bunnies, Snapchat’s parent company Snap sells its own Google Glass-style pair of sunglasses allowing users to capture their adventures on the go.
The 2018 version is the V2 which has a 105-degree field of vision and records videos in 1216×1216 pixels and photos in 1642×1642. The Spectacles are underwater capable, have prescription options and a smaller case than their V1 predecessor.
The Spectacles are supposed to have enough battery and memory to record and transfer 70 videos over a week on a normal charge, plus carry four extra charges in the case. All users need to do is long-press for a photo or tap for a 10 second video, with extra taps taking it to 30 seconds. A light ring on the front lets people know you’re recording, but it is so discreet they may not notice…which can be a bit worrying for potential subjects. Color choices are onyx black, ruby red and sapphire blue, with mirrored or natural lenses, and they are UVA and UVB rated. Snapchat Spectacles retail for US$149.99.
Compatibility: iOS and Android
Neviano UV Protection swimsuit collection
This swimsuit range from French fashion tech company Spinali, features removable waterproof medallion sensors. When linked with the smartphone app, and after personal user skin type information is entered, it will prevent users from sun damage by monitoring outdoor temperatures and sending out reminders to apply sunscreen or recommendations on when to get in the shade. There are options for men, women and children, along with a range of prices. The range is a peek at the swimwear of the future.
Owlet Smart Sock
For the parents out there, you can even buy wearable tech for your babies. The Owlet Smart sock is one of many offerings, using pulse oximetry technology to monitor your baby’s heart rate, making sure his or her sleeping and breathing haven’t been interrupted. It comes in three sizes, charges via a base station and syncs to your iPhone or Android phone to deliver data in real time.
The second generation is now out, with improved Bluetooth range of up to 100 feet and better placed sensors so that there are fewer false notifications. It’ll also work with Owlet’s new Connected Care platform, which will help you identify potential health issues like sleep irregularities, RSV, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, chronic lung disorders and heart defects. It retails for US$299.99.
Compatibility: iOS and Android