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Wearable tech at CES 2014: Prepare your body parts for an onslaught of options

Jon Phillips | Jan. 4, 2014
Wearable technology. It's an exploding product category in desperate need of a category-defining product. And now, with the Consumer Electronics Show upon us, we get to see whether some company, any company, can release an uncompromised, mainstream consumer hit in 2014.

But the activity tracker I'm most interested in seeing isn't even designed for humans. Yes, sensor-driven, quantified-self hardware has finally jumped the shark. Or rather... the dog.

A start-up called i4C Innovations will be unveiling VOYCE, a new wearable "vital signs and wellness monitoring tracker" for our canine friends. Created by a team of bio-medical engineers, veterinarians and dog behaviorists, the sensor-packed neck collar is designed to provide new insights into a dog's health and behavior. And if all goes according to plan, I'll be demoing the tracker at a Las Vegas dog park, chaperoned by a happy, wet-nosed Golden Retriever.

Smartglasses: Wear at your own risk

It's easy to focus on fitness trackers and smartwatches, as they're relatively comprehensible to consumers (enthusiasts, at least), and will represent the lion's share of wearables at CES. But while smart glasses spur significant "Why would I ever want this?" consumer confusion, and present a discouraging range of physical and social discomforts, I still expect to see some representation besides the Epson announcement I mention above.

Vuzix showed off its M100 smartglasses at last year's CES, and the company will be back again to show off its augmented-reality specs, which float a small head-up display in your line of vision. The M100s went retail in December for $1000. GlassUp will also be back in Las Vegas this year, showing off its eponymous specs that project simple strings of text (tweets, email, etc) directly in your sight line. If nothing else, the GlassUp take on augmented reality is stylish, and might relieve users of the public shaming provoked by Google Glass.

And of course I'll be on the ground at CES, covering the wearables scene, and sharing images of the show from Glass via my @jonphillipssf Twitter feed and Google+ account. Google's eyewear gives me neck cramps and eyestrain if I glance at its screen for long, extended periods, but at least in a sea of tech-obsessed humanity, I stand a good chance of avoiding public ridicule wearing Glass.

CES 2014 will be nothing if not wearables-friendly.

 

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