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Personal Tech for Women: 5 Things You Need To Know About Wearables

Monday, March 09, 2015


Apple Watch

Recent tech headlines are jammed with the latest on wearables, from smartwatches to fitness trackers. But believe it or not, wearables are still not hot sellers. The tough task gadget makers might be facing is melding fashion and functionality. Because, really, how much more “at arms length” do your texts, emails and alerts have to be? A pocket or purse might suffice. Nevertheless, companies are innovating like mad to produce wearables that provide notifications, charge your devices, and give you a clue about your fitness levels. Here’s a list of five categories from the market’s leading brands, including what’s next in the evolution of accessorized technologies.  

1. Smartwatches – Apple, Pebble, LG Urbane and LG Watch Urbane

Before you snap these costly – and what could prove to be faddish – gadgets to your wrists, lets take a look at the most talked-about models. If you’re actually going to purchase a smartwatch, you’ll spend at least $349 on potentially game-changing Apple Watch next month if you’re a Mac person. Pebble Steel, from the Kickstarter darling Pebble, is a definite contender for Apple, with a more professional version of its original plastic model. The newest luxury edition of the LG Watch Urbane, recently unveiled at the Mobile World Congress, offers a conventional timepiece style – round face, silver or gold steel fbody, and both leather or metal straps. The Urbane is the first 4G smartwatch in the world, which means it can actually make calls and send e-mails and texts, without a smartphone in tandem. There’s also a host of Android Wear watches from sporty to sci-fi, like the anticipated Moto 360, a classic design that takes voice commands, accesses your emails and calendars, and notifies you of incoming calls and texts, for $249. But if you’re undecided, sit back and see what others say. If the smartwatch market continues to flat line, they might not say much at all, unless your friends work in the tech industry. 

2. Smart Jewelry

It might be a more image-savvy name for a smartwatch, but here it is: "smart jewelry" that is almost spy-worthy. The MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) is product from Intel and fashion brand Opening Ceremony that features semi-precious stones, a 18k gold-coated stainless steel band, and a sapphire touch screen, and allows for messaging, calendar synching and email notifications. Designer Rebecca Minkoff partnered with Case-Mate to create the notification bracelet, about $120, which connects with your cell phone via Bluetooth, and the lightning cable bracelet, for around $60, that uses a USB cable to sync and charge your mobile devices. Smart rings and charms that provide notifications have also reached the market. And putting chic aside, there’s the MyID Sleek, a medical ID bracelet that uses QR code technology to store your emergency contacts and medical conditions. It comes in eight colors, for $39.99. 

3. Smart Garments

Some of the world’s top fashion designers are jumping on the wearable wagon to bring smart garments to the market. This means technology can by synthesized with clothing. CuteCircuit, based in London, are a wearable technology fashion house that specializes in interactive fashion. They’ve designed the world’s first Twitter dress. It’s a black chiffon evening gown that lights up with the latest tweets. Other fashion designers and technology companies are weaving LEDs or holographic leathers into fabrics that respond to sound waves. Tommy Hilfiger’s wool and nylon jackets, for women too, are adorned with seven to ten solar panels on the back that charge your mobile devices. Other companies include the start-up Wearable Solar, which also employs solar technology in clothing, and Voltaic Systems has developed a series of device-charging handbags.

4. Smart Sex Gadgets

Just in case you need to keep it closer, now there’s a necklace-vibrator out there, thanks to modern sex toy company, Crave, based in San Francisco. It’s called Vesper, a solid stainless steel pendant which Crave advertises as not only fully functioning, but its sleek aesthetic is also “a subtle addition to your outfit and a standalone statement.” The sex-tech company OhMiBod revamped its blueMotion line of Bluetooth enabled wearable vibrators. It now buzzes in sync to your heartbeat and is controlled through a smartwatch app. 

5. Embeddables and Hearables

Moving beyond the skin, wearables are turning to embeddables and hearables, which function as second-skin devices. Motorola unveiled a digital tattoo that could unlock your smartphone. It’s a nickel-sized, adhesive tattoo – waterproof and resistant to rigorous activities, too – which you can stick to the inside of you wrist, for instance, and swipe your phone across it. Viola, no password required. On the hearable spectrum, Bragi’s Kickstarter-funded The Dash are wireless headphones that not only play music but double as a Bluetooth headset. They also work with the wearer to track movements and measure body vitals. Apple is also working on earbuds that would monitor heart rate, body temperature and more.

Melanie Sevcenko is a journalist for radio, print and online. She reports internationally for BBC World Service and Monocle Radio (M24) in the UK, and for Deutsche Welle in Germany. Melanie also reports for the online news source GoLocalPDX, in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been broadcast by CBC in Canada and the Northwest News Network, and published by Al Jazeera English, Global Post, Pacific Standard, the Toronto Star and USA Today, amongst others.


Related Slideshow: The 7 Best Health and Fitness Apps

Here is a list of some of the most obsession worthy health apps.

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MapMyRun is the number one selling running app for a reason:  it is easy to use, offers community support if you want it, and tracks and stores your exact routes for you.  If you are training for a race or a serious runner, users say that the extra perks in the upgraded paid version are well worth it. 

Made for iPhone, Android and Blackberry 

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MyFitnessPal seems to be the clear favorite amongst everyone polled.  It is helpful not only for the fitness tracking aspect, but everyone polled mentioned how much they loved the food/diet aspect as well. From carb counting for diabetics to recipe ideas to complement your fitness goals, users love this app. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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JeFit is another fitness app that has rave reviews.  It not only tracks progress for you, but offers a huge database of workouts.  While many apps offer community support, JeFit allows you to sync workouts with friends who use the app, offering a (real) virtual buddy system.

Made for iPhone and Android

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Strava gets the highest mark of all the cycling apps.  While it is also great for runners, the cyclers seem particularly inclined towards the fierce competition that can be ignited by this app.  You can track all of your rides via GPS, then you can compare your efforts to those logged by others in the community on the same stretch of road.  You can also join ongoing challenges that can net you great prizes (in addition to bragging rights). 

Made for iPhone and Android

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YogaStudio gets the top vote for Yoga apps.  It has a lengthy collection of full class-length videos available at your fingertips.  Unlike many other apps, this one also allows you to customize your own video yoga class.  All of the poses are done by qualified yoga instructors, and you can find classes suitable for all levels of yogis.

Made for iPhone only

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SimplyBeing meditation app offers the best of both worlds.  You can choose to run this app as a background for your meditation with soothing music or natural sounds that run for a set amount of time.  Conversely, for those of you who have trouble focusing during meditation, you can choose a soothing voice-guided meditation. 

Made for iPhone and Android

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Fooducate is an app all about educating people so that they make healthier food choices.  Although not perfect, this app is easy to use (you can even take pictures of bar codes to instantly find foods in their database).  It gives food a letter grade, tells you the pluses and minuses, and gives you better ranked alternatives.  You can also use it as a weight loss tool by tracking your daily calories. 

Made for iPhone and Android


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