The Week in Wearables March 27

Consumer Wearables

This one is from a couple weeks ago, but I just found it. Levi’s and Google introduced their new “wearable tech” jacket at SXSW a few weeks ago. This is another early example that wearables are not just smartwatches and fitness bands. This is targeted at “bike commuters” right now to test the waters and work out the kinks, but you can see how it could easily expand beyond that. Another interesting note is that they added this technology integration into the existing fashion supply chain and didn’t create a new one, which enables expansion and diversification of fashions and use cases to happen much faster. Here.

Apple Watch rumors indicate the next version of the Apple Watch may include a SIM card and “interoperability” with Airpods hearables, which would enable independence from the phone, assuming battery life remains the same or better. This is a logical next step and potentially powerful user experience, but it remains to be seen if they can overcome battery limitations and potential size constraints in the watch. Here.

Following all the luxury smartwatch announcements coming out of Baselworld 2017, The Verge makes the point that Android Wear 2.0 has made it “trivially easy” for fashion companies to make tech products. True enough, but it remains to be seen if these companies are able to differentiate purely on brand, particularly in the watches that have all-digital faces that look the same (Android Wear 2.0), compared to mechanical movements in hybrid smartwatches that can claim at least some differentiation in craftsmanship. Here.

Samsung is launching what amounts to a contactless payment system on an NFC chip. The most interesting thing here is the ability to pre-load “cash” onto the chip, which potentially opens up new markets and user groups that may not have credit cards or bank accounts. Here.

Adidas is launching a fitness tracker targeted to women. Smart move – there is a huge gap in the market right now in wearables targeted to women. Here.

Medical Wearables

Nvidia is doubling down on AI in medicine, particularly in applying deep learning to medical imaging, Not surprising, given AI’s significant early traction in this area and the massive potential for impacting public health, particularly in developing countries where medical expertise tends to be more scarce. Here.

A 50-person study has demonstrated the VR “significantly” reduces pain and is an effective therapy for pain management. Obviously more extensive study needed here, but promising results. Here.

A move to make hearing aids available over-the-counter is underway in the US Congress, which would open up new possibilities for hearing aid companies as well as hearables companies focused on hearing augmentation. Doppler Labs, for example, is a big proponent. Here.

Doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA are using Google Glass as a standard part of doctors rounds. The hospital installs unique QR codes on the door to every hospital room, so when the doctor enters the room, the patients chart and medical records are automatically pulled up on the Google Glass screen. Here.

Buried in the Samsung S8 announcement this week was an interesting feature of the Samsung Health app – telemedicine capabilities in partnership with American Well. Users can connect to a board-certified physician for $59 per “visit” without insurance. Here.

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Wearables market will evolve like the apparel industry. Here.

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