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Where are the wearables you wear elsewhere?

Mike Elgan | Nov. 15, 2016
Nearly all the wearables on the market are fitness-enabled smartwatches. Here are some awesome alternative gadgets.

Orion Labs offers a vaguely similar device, which you wear as a clip-on or necklace. But instead of recording your voice, the Onyx conveys it to another person. Like the Star Trek communicator, the Onyx conveys your voice instantly when and while you push the button. When you're done talking, let go to let the other person speak (like a walkie-talkie). The Onyx has actually been around for a couple of years, but will gain Alexa support by the end of this year, according to a representative for the company, which means you'll be able to interact with Amazon's virtual assistant as if you owned an Echo. The Onyx costs $199.99 for a pack of two or $129.99 for a single unit, and you can customize the colors.

Jacket and shirt

When Google sold Motorola to Lenovo, it kept Motorola's groundbreaking research group, called Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP). One of its signature initiatives is Project Jacquard, which weaves smart sensors directly into fabrics.

The first consumer product to come out of this initiative is a Jacquard-enabled jacket, which should go on the market next year. The jacket sleeve functions as a touch controller for your smartphone. A USB-chargeable tag snaps on the jacket and communicates to your phone. That enables sleeve gestures (tapping and swiping) to affect apps on your phone, such as music playback and phone call control. Levi's says the smart jacket will cost the same as dumb jackets, probably under $200.

A product called the Fan Jersey from an Australian company called Wearable Experiments is a shirt for football fans (either the international football, a.k.a. soccer, or American football varieties), which delivers real-time haptic feedback while you're watching a game. You can feel the heartbeat of specific players, or feel the impact of a kick or tackle high on your chest along the collarbone. (The shirt connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth.) When your team scores a goal or touchdown, you'll feel the roar of the crowd.

These are just a few of the hundreds of wearables that you can buy now or sometime soon. Best of all, they don't involve biometrics, fitness or require you to replace whatever it is you currently have on your wrist, on your face or in your ears.


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