5 Things We Learned from Designers of Things
Our minds are still spinning from all that we learned at the Designers of Things conference in San Francisco last week. The event featured some of the leading experts from Iot, wearable tech and 3D printing. To help you wade through all the golden nuggets of information, we’ve put together five of the things we learned from this year’s event.
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1. If your product doesn’t become “smart”, it will be considered dumb
Adam Justice of Grid Connect was one of our Micro Talk speakers on the second day of Designers of Things. The VP of an IoT company, Justice told us a story about a ceiling fan that he recently bought for his house. The ordinary fan was functional but what caught his eye soon after was a model that allowed him to control it with his smartphone. Justice used this example to stress the importance of connectivity in future products, stating that we are soon reaching a point where products that are not connected, or “smart”, will soon be considered dumb.  
2. Products will need to move beyond smart, to become “wise”
Beyond being connected, our keynote speaker, Gadi Amit, stressed that products need to start to become “wise”. Amit taught us that being “smart” doesn’t necessarily mean that a thing has intelligence. He pictured a world in which wearables and other connected items are equipped with context and machine learning that will add even more value to our lives.
3. Prototyping Solutions for Real Problems 

Our closing keynote is one we won’t forget. It’s not everyday you see a keynote that involves pipe cleaners and plasticine but these were the tools that TV host Dr. Mike North used to teach us that playing and prototyping can be one in the same. North asked the audience to team up and identify a real problem our teammate was having and then asked us to solve for it. In just fifteen minutes, team presented hardware solutions for snoring, trekking around in the snow and encouraging people to connect in real life rather than be on your phone. 
4. Good things happen when you open up your IP
Duann Scott from Shapeways taught us that when brands work with the creative community by opening up their IP and collaborating on designs, everyone wins. The Shapeways SuperFanArt parntership with Hasbro has allowed 3D printing designers to play with brands like My Little Pony and Transformers and has resulted in new designs, new revenue and accolades from the press and the community itself.  
5. Wearables can make old things new again
Gesture-tech, Myo, from Thalmic Labs showed us that wearable technology can give new life to something that has been around for a while. Chris Goodine, Developer Evangelist from Thalmic, walked our audience through a hands-on intensive class to get them to code the classic game Tetris to be played with your hands using the Myo. Watching the teams play Tetris with their hands in their air rather than tapping, clicking proved new interfaces are going to allow us to see things in a whole new light.
Were you at Designers of Things this year? What were some of the lessons you learned? Leave them in the comments. 

5 Things We Learned from Designers of Things

Our minds are still spinning from all that we learned at the Designers of Things conference in San Francisco last week. The event featured some of the leading experts from Iot, wearable tech and 3D printing. To help you wade through all the golden nuggets of information, we’ve put together five of the things we learned from this year’s event.

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Creating Successful Voice Interactions With Connected Products
Voice is increasingly becoming a necessary and very powerful input especially for the wearable and IoT categories which often have devices with small screens or no screens at all. When building a product that uses voice, it’s essential that the first interactions with a user are positive and successful, or you risk losing them completely. To help guide designers and developers in creating this first great experience, Tanya Kraljic, a principal interaction and dialog designer at Nuance Communications, imparted some tips at this week’s Designers of Things conference.
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Before you add voice to your product, its important to answer a couple of essential questions about what you are creating. These questions are the same whether you are building a talking toaster, a smart thermostat or interactions within a connected car: what will it do, what will it understand, what will it know about and how will it sound. 
With this in mind, Kraljic recommends starting off any voice interacxtion with an introduction. This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out tutorial but it does need to be effective and simple enough so that it establishes a successful interaction. To continue this positive experience, Kraljic suggests that voice systems use language that comes naturally to the user by anticipating basic commands that mimic natural behaviors. Most users will often start with simple phrases, so figuring out what these phrases are in context to overall user experience will go a long way in creating successful voice interactions.
But just as important as recognizing, interpreting and responding to what the user is saying is assuring the user that the system is listening and is still there. Kraljic stressed the importance of conversational feedback in a voice system which can be achieved by using visual or audible cues. Pulsing circles, waving lines or even just the use of the word “Listening” are all great ways to incorporate cues into the experience that reassures them that the system is still there when they are talking.
Using on-screen visuals to encourage users to speak about a specific topic is another way to create a successful voice experience. Kraljic pointed out that users will often speak about what they see on screen and suggested that displaying relevant and/or coaching information on the screen during the voice interaction is a proactive way to provide guidance for the user. 
This interplay between voice and other forms of input and feedback such as touch and haptics is also an important one. “Users expect modalities to work together,” she said. She gave the example of a smartwatch which uses voice to initiate a call and then allow the user to select the correct caller from a list on the screen in which they would tap from. 
Despite doing your best to set up a successful voice experience for users, there will be times when things don’t work as planned. But that’s to be expected says Kraljic. “Human communication doesn’t always succeed either,” she said. “It’s ok to have an error in a voice system as long as users know how to fix it”. Letting users know that the command they gave was incorrect and guiding them to use the right one is an opportunity to turn it all around.  

Creating Successful Voice Interactions With Connected Products

Voice is increasingly becoming a necessary and very powerful input especially for the wearable and IoT categories which often have devices with small screens or no screens at all. When building a product that uses voice, it’s essential that the first interactions with a user are positive and successful, or you risk losing them completely. To help guide designers and developers in creating this first great experience, Tanya Kraljic, a principal interaction and dialog designer at Nuance Communications, imparted some tips at this week’s Designers of Things conference.

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Wearables As An Extension Of Your Body, Developing with Myo
Controlling the digital environment with the wave of a hand has long been a dream of many who have grown up watching Sci-Fi and Action flicks like “Minority Report” and “Iron Man”. Earlier this week at the Designers of Things conference, sixty people got the chance to make this dream come true. Thalmic Labs’ led a hands-on intensive session of its gesture-control armband, Myo, which gave the audience a chance to use the device and develop their first app which would use their hand gestures as inputs.
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Thalmic Labs’ Developer Evangelist, Chris Goodine, started off the session by breaking down the wearable landscape in a presentation he controlled with the flick of his wrist. Goodine divided the growing wearable space into two categories: input and output devices. Output devices were defined as devices that send data to users usually showing it to users on screens. Some great examples include smartwatches like the Moto 360 or Samsung Gear and heads-up displays like Google Glass. In contrast, input devices are those that collect data from the user and use it in some meaningful manner. In this category we have activity trackers like Fitbit or Jawbone’s UP, brain-sensing devices like Muse and of course the Myo.
The Myo is an armband that uses the kinetic energy and movement of your hand to control any connected thing. The device understands a variety of hand gestures including swiping left and right, making a fist and spreading your fingers wide. Each gesture correlates to an action in an application which would be set by the developer of the software. With the Myo you are able to move through slides in a PowerPoint presentation, change channels on your Smart TV and even turn on your Phillips Hue lights all with a single gesture with your hand. Goodine also walked through some examples of how Myo could be paired with other wearables such as virtual reality headsets and smartglasses to enhance the experience. 
Thalmic provided one Myo for each team of two at the event and we watched as, one-by-one, team members put the Myo on their arm and started to wave their hands through the guided set-up sequence. The Myo currently has a set of six gestures which you need to get familiar with to use the device. The set-up sequence teaches you these gestures by requiring you to use them to both move through the instructional and in exercises Thalmic Labs has included to make sure your first experiences with the device are a positive one.   
Once the teams had a chance to get familiar with the Myo, Goodine walked them through an exercise to build their first app for the device. Using the Myo SDK, teams were tasked with updating the classic arcade game, Tetris, so that it could interpret gestures for gameplay. Teams were asked to code the app so that moving your hand to the right or left would move your Tetris block back and forth and a spread of your fingers would turn the block around so that you can fit it into place.  
The developer community for Thalmic is extremely critical as they will be responsible for creating applications for the device. We have already seen how developers are using the Myo to drive unmanned vehicles, control x-wings in games, and exploring how to use the device to interpret sign language.

Wearables As An Extension Of Your Body, Developing with Myo

Controlling the digital environment with the wave of a hand has long been a dream of many who have grown up watching Sci-Fi and Action flicks like “Minority Report” and “Iron Man”. Earlier this week at the Designers of Things conference, sixty people got the chance to make this dream come true. Thalmic Labs’ led a hands-on intensive session of its gesture-control armband, Myo, which gave the audience a chance to use the device and develop their first app which would use their hand gestures as inputs.

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The Challenge of Designing A Biometric Wearable for the Body
The Nymi is a connected wristband that uses your heart beat to prove who you are to other connected things. The wristband offers persistent identity at a time when we are constantly having to provide proof of who we are online and off using cards from our wallet, pins and passwords. CEO and Co-founder Karl Martin took to the stage yesterday at the end of Day 1 at the Designers of Things conference to talk to the crowd about the design journey for the Nymi and the challenges they worked through in designing for the human body.
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Martin candidly pulled back the curtain on the making of the Nymi yesterday at the conference in an effort to help those that are thinking about making a body-worn biometric wearable. His presentation was filled with images showing the progression of the Nymi design from its shape, to its components and overall aesthetic. It was clear from the presentation that a lot of thinking went into ensuring that the Nymi was something people would want to wear as well as something the company could execute on.  

One of the biggest design challenges was the issue of size and fit. With human wrist sizes differing between and even within genders,  it was critical to come up with a design that would ensure that the wristband sat comfortably on a wide variety of wrists. Martin showed some of the early design concepts they were considering to tackle this challenge including using an “overlap” model which is similar to what Jawbone UP uses. The team settled on a design that was simple and would only need to be adjusted once out of the box.
Martin made it clear that Bionym was careful not to make the Nymi watch-like in its design as they didn’t want to introduce its complexity. But they did include additional sensors like a motion sensor to help clarify intent of the user for things like wanting to open the back door of a car versus the trunk.
Of course, being a connected accessory, it was critical that the device work. The team did some extensive thinking around the electronics and sensor components in the Nymi and went as far as cutting out components and putting them on the skin to see how they would interact with the body. Martin indicated that designing for ECG (electrocardiography) which is the main sensor posed a whole suite of design challenges including the choice of material, water resistance and even where to put the electrodes.
Outside of the hardware, Bionym is also designing and creating the ecosystem necessary for the Nymi to succeed. Martin told the audience that the team is busy working on partnerships and pilots in the payment, hotel, travel and hospitality. And indicated that new entrants into the wearable payment space, like Apple with its recent Apple Watch announcement, would only help to accelerate these types of opportunities in the market. 

The Challenge of Designing A Biometric Wearable for the Body

The Nymi is a connected wristband that uses your heart beat to prove who you are to other connected things. The wristband offers persistent identity at a time when we are constantly having to provide proof of who we are online and off using cards from our wallet, pins and passwords. CEO and Co-founder Karl Martin took to the stage yesterday at the end of Day 1 at the Designers of Things conference to talk to the crowd about the design journey for the Nymi and the challenges they worked through in designing for the human body.

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Designing For Experience, Not Data
Gadi Amit of NewDealDesign has been the designing force behind many exciting products making the news. His team has worked on the fitness tracker Fitbit, light field camera Lytro, and the modular smartphone project from Google called Project Ara. In his keynote session at Designers of Things this morning, Amit shed light on the the major design elements necessary to create compelling connected products like wearable tech.
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For Amit, designing a product starts with looking at the convergence of software, hardware and the cloud. Once the right balance is found between these three elements, the design process layers on the services the product has to offer and finally the branding necessary to communicate the product to the users. 
Essential, is also finding the right balance between what Amit calls “IQ and EQ” or intellectual thinking and emotional thinking. He stressed that experience and not data is what the average person is looking for in tech. “Most technology today isn’t utilitarian,” he said. “It’s something you need to feel good about”. 
But even though technology has the ability to connect us, Amit warns that it also risks alienate us from each other despite the fact that we are in the same room. He showed the audience a picture of two people sitting at the same dinner table on their smartphones ignoring each other as an example of what behavior products today are encouraging. For Amit, successful product designs are those that truly connect people while still catering to our social and digital demands.
When it comes to wearables in particular, Amit broke down a couple of factors that need to be thought of when designing this type of product. Size was at the top of this list. He pointed to the wrist as an example, leaning on his Fitbit experience. As wearables are worn on the body, and all bodies are not created equal, designers need to consider how to work around this challenge. 
Just as varied as size is Fashion. What people consider fashionable differs from one person to another and also changes regularly for an individual as they grow and evolve which makes it hard to solve for. But finding that right amount of fashion to include in your product design is essential. 
To help people feel more invested in their devices and be less likely to throw them away, Amit introduced the idea of co-creation. Involving users in the creation process forms a bond between the individual and the device. This can be achieved through things like 3D printing, or modular products like Project Ara, establishes a stronger relationship with tech. 
Perhaps the most powerful take-away from Amit’s keynote was that although the design of the the hardware is a complex challenge for designers, it is in the product’s use of data that is the hardest nut to crack. Wearable technologies today may be considered “smart” devices but Amit doesn’t believe so.  He sees a need to for “smart” devices to do more than just gather information and data. The real shift, he say, is to create “wise” devices that filter this data and provide you with the information you need when you need it an in the right way.

Designing For Experience, Not Data

Gadi Amit of NewDealDesign has been the designing force behind many exciting products making the news. His team has worked on the fitness tracker Fitbit, light field camera Lytro, and the modular smartphone project from Google called Project Ara. In his keynote session at Designers of Things this morning, Amit shed light on the the major design elements necessary to create compelling connected products like wearable tech.

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The Evolution of Technologies Necessary for Wearable Tech Success
The Designers of Things conference kicked off this morning with a session from Atmel’s VP and GM of Wireless Solutions, Kaivan Karimi, who broke down the evolution of technologies necessary for wearable devices to succeed. 
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Karimi began by making it clear that wearables are a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT) which is the wider umbrella of connected things. The umbrella is so wide that Karimi said “to say the Internet of Things is like saying sunlight, it covers everything”. The shift to devices that collect data make up what Karimi suggests is today’s premise: “If you can’t track it, you can’t improve it”.  
Despite the fact that wearable technology is a niched subset of the vast universe of IoT, Karimi stressed that the wearable tech space is not a single segment and broke it out into three categories. High-end or local processing wearables include smartwatches that run stand-alone systems such as Android Wear, Tizen for the Gear line of devices and the upcoming Apple Watch. Mid-range wearables are more smartphone accessories. They use thin client models and rely on applications on the smartphone. The third category, low-end or limited devices usually with no display or limited user interface and act more as a sensor aggregator. This category includes devices such as Fitbit, Polar Loop and other fitness trackers. 
Karimi gave six reasons why wearables have seen fast adoption so far. The fact that wearables integrate with our lives was one. And their ease of use was another. Price, fashion & health cross-fertilization, the quantified self movement and the potential to save lives rounded out his list.
But security and privacy concerns are what he says will inhibit the growth of wearable tech and IoT in general. But securing the Internet of Things will be necessary. Karimi depicted at time in the near future where hacker’s could open your back door, turn off the streetlights in your neighborhood and even take control of your toaster oven. Creating the necessary hierarchal gateways to protect access to connected devices and its data will be key in a connected tomorrow.
Major advancemetns in technologies like semi-conductors are attributed to growth of wearable tech, says Karimi. Semi-conductors are getting faster, cheaper, smaller and more powerful yet less power consuming which make them well suited for small devices that need to be on all day. 
But one of wearables biggest allies will be contextual computing, which Karimi says will be the dominant computing paradigm of the future. The use of big data, sensor fusion, personal history, GPS and social media will allow computers to know who we are which in turn will let them better serve us.
It doesn’t stop at wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches. Karimi also teased the audience with new form factors coming down the chain including new intimate technologies let you feel connected to your spouse from afar and a pill that you ingest to authenticate yourself. He also pointed to the tattoo technology of MC10 as an example of where sensor technology is headed.

The Evolution of Technologies Necessary for Wearable Tech Success

The Designers of Things conference kicked off this morning with a session from Atmel’s VP and GM of Wireless Solutions, Kaivan Karimi, who broke down the evolution of technologies necessary for wearable devices to succeed. 

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Three of Tech’s Hottest Trends Collide Tomorrow at Designers of Things
The world is changing. 3D printing is bringing manufacturing to the masses, the Internet is spreading out from our computers to connect all things in the Internet of Things and we are starting to get even more intimate with our technology by wearing it as clothing and accessories with wearable tech. These three shifts all have huge individual impacts on how we live our everyday lives as well as have influence on each other. One of the common threads between 3D printing, IoT and wearable tech is the ability to use this technology to design solutions that solve for real problems in our world which is at the core of tomorrow’s conference in San Francisco, Designers of Things.
[[MORE]]Beginning tomorrow, the Mission Bay Conference Center in downtown San Francisco will be the home to three of the hottest topics in technology today. Designers of Things is bringing together designers, developers and innovators in an event that is jam packed with live demos, technical sessions and networking parties.
We’ve spent the past few months featuring many of the speakers who are voicing their thoughts and experience at the conference these next two days. Most recently was a conversation with Duann Scott from Shapeways who spoke to us about his experience in “making really cool things” with 3D printing when brands like Hasbro open up their IP to the creative community. The Shapeways-Hasbro partnership allowed select designers to collaborate with the uber popular “My Little Pony” franchise in building new creations under this brand and selling it on the Shapeways platform.
Back in July, we caught up with Karl Martin, CEO and Founder of Toronto-based Bionym, a wearable tech company behind the Nymi, a wristband to identify who you are and then relays your identity to any connected thing via Bluetooth. As Martin explained, identity isn’t just about security and passwords but also about preferences and customization opening up opportunities to use the Nymi to do anything from opening smart doors and accessing your email to changing the music station and lighting in an environment you walk into while wearing it. 
“Sensing” environments is something Adam Justice from GridConnect knows well. In a recent featured speaker post, Justice talked to us about ConnectSense, his company’s line of sensors for the home which track anything from motion to light. And we spent considerable time discussing the importance of a great first experience for new technology, which he explained, was striving to make technology “stupid easy” for the end user so that they are not overwhelmed. 
Scott, Martin and Justice all join us beginning tomorrow as we continue these types of conversations live on stage in San Francisco. For those of you who are not able to make it to the conference, we will be live tweeting from the @DoThingsCon Twitter account and posting featured sessions on the blog so be sure to follow-us and check back here soon.

Three of Tech’s Hottest Trends Collide Tomorrow at Designers of Things

The world is changing. 3D printing is bringing manufacturing to the masses, the Internet is spreading out from our computers to connect all things in the Internet of Things and we are starting to get even more intimate with our technology by wearing it as clothing and accessories with wearable tech. These three shifts all have huge individual impacts on how we live our everyday lives as well as have influence on each other. One of the common threads between 3D printing, IoT and wearable tech is the ability to use this technology to design solutions that solve for real problems in our world which is at the core of tomorrow’s conference in San Francisco, Designers of Things.

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The Cloud as the Backbone of the Internet of Things
According to Cisco, over 50 billion things are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020. This includes everything from the bulb in your lamp to the knob on your front door. Behind the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sensors these devices are all equipped with is one of the most important ingredients of the internet of things - the cloud.
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The importance of the cloud is core to Ayla Networks, a proud sponsor of the Designers of Things conference which starts tomorrow in San Francisco. The company offers a cloud-based platform as an agile service for connected devices which accelerates development, support and ongoing enhancements for IoT products. 
With the IoT space being quite broad, we asked Senior Director of Product Marketing Ayla Networks, Rod McLane what areas the company is focusing the most attention on.  McLane told us that connected home, the industrial space such as HVAC and water treatment systems and wearables or the connected person especially in health are seeing the most activity. 
Across all areas, McLane noted that focusing on the consumer rather than the technology was key. “What can we do to enable the person to lead a better life and get more out of their everyday activities,” he told us. 
As Ayla is a cloud-based platform, its solution empowers manufacturers to make changes to functionality without the need to replace the hardware. This is a huge bonus for the consumer. “You aren’t going to replace your thermostat every three years,” he points out. Instead, manufacturers can push new firmware to the existing device to bug fix or add additional features. This agility also allows the manufacturers to adapt to the ever changing landscape of IoT which not only sees new entrants on a frequent basis but is also at a time of flux when it comes to standards. 
Security is constant part of the conversation with IoT and with good reason. As McLane points out you don’t want someone to “hack into your fridge to spoil your food or hack into your connected door to get into your home.” Ayla Networks treats security very seriously and has worked in three levels of protection including the use of SSL, unique keys and working with the chip makers to install an Ayla agent on the hardware.
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This article is part of our article series for Designers of Things Conference which takes place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, California. Ayla Networks is a proud sponsor of Designers of Things.

The Cloud as the Backbone of the Internet of Things

According to Cisco, over 50 billion things are expected to be connected to the internet by 2020. This includes everything from the bulb in your lamp to the knob on your front door. Behind the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and sensors these devices are all equipped with is one of the most important ingredients of the internet of things - the cloud.

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Talking to our Tech: Featured Speaker Tanya Kraljic
If there is one mark of the future, it’s the ability to talk to our tech and have it respond and take action. From Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey to KITT in Knight Rider, we have been fascinated with a time when we can interact with our computers just as naturally as we do with each other. Although we are still a few years out from real intelligent conversations with our devices, the ability to converse with computers is entirely plausible with today’s technology. And it will become an even more critical input for the growing number of connected devices that fall under the umbrella of wearable technology and the Internet of Things.   
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Voice has already come a long way in just a couple of years when it was just starting to be used in applications and was predominantly found in enterprise environments such as customer care centers. Today you can find voice in apps, gaming systems, home automation, robots and wearables. “It is becoming ubiquitous,” Tanya Kraljic, principal interaction and dialog designer at Nuance Communications, told Designers of Things. “As the technology evolves, people realize that it is a natural way to interact with technology”. 
Headquartered in Massachusetts, Nuance is a leader in speech and imaging applications and is reinventing the relationship between people and technology. Its technology is a driving force behind the voice recognition capabilities of Siri, Apple’s voice assistant and powers apps from AccuWeather, Domino’s Pizza and others. 
Kraljic says that she has seen a significant leap in voice systems in the four years she has worked for the company from simply understanding a set of certain words in the form of dictation to understanding natural language to allow you to actually converse with your tech. “You can tell the system in your own words what you want, and what you need and not have to worry about how to express that. The systems will understand you and take the initiative,” she said. 
Of course there is still more work to be done. Kraljic believes the next leap will be in creating intelligent systems which will inform dialogues and will be more aware of you, your past, your preferences and use sensors to gain more context of the environment. “We are in a great place for recognition and natural language understanding. Now we need to push the boundaries of intelligence,” explained Kraljic.
Kraljic points to wearables in helping to expedite advancements in voice especially as many have small screens or no screens at all and rely heavily on voice for interaction. Devices like Google Glass and hearables, like Motorola’s Hint, are just two examples of devices which use voice as a primary input. “Everyone of these devices that comes out pushes the voice experience a little further,” she said.  And although talking to our tech still seems a little awkward she believes that social norms will change out of a matter of convenience and use value.  
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This article is part of our featured speaker series for Designers of Things Conference which takes place September 23-24, 2014 at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, California. Get your VIP and Tech passes by clicking here. Tanya Kraljic will be speaking about Designing Voice Interfaces for Wearables and Other Form Factors at the event.

Talking to our Tech: Featured Speaker Tanya Kraljic

If there is one mark of the future, it’s the ability to talk to our tech and have it respond and take action. From Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey to KITT in Knight Rider, we have been fascinated with a time when we can interact with our computers just as naturally as we do with each other. Although we are still a few years out from real intelligent conversations with our devices, the ability to converse with computers is entirely plausible with today’s technology. And it will become an even more critical input for the growing number of connected devices that fall under the umbrella of wearable technology and the Internet of Things.   

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Apple Enters The Wearable Category With The Apple Watch
Apple held its expected September event in Cupertino today. Among the announcements was the reveal of the new iPhone 6 including one with a larger 5.5 inch screen called the iPhone 6 Plus.  Apple also entered the mobile payments by including NFC on the latest devices and rolling out a feature called ApplePay. But it was when Tim Cook spoke the magic words “One More Thing” at the tail end of the event when things really got exciting. Cook presented a line of Apple Watches at the event officiating the rumours that the company was joining others in creating products for the wearable tech category.  
[[MORE]]The Apple Watch comes in a variety of styles and colors to offer personalization and options for wearers to fit their sense of style. The watch will be offered in two sizes and feature six different straps made from various materials including leather, silicon and stainless steel. Apple will be selling three three different collections of the watch: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition, the latter  made using 18-karat gold. On top of the hardware options, Apple also featured a variety of watchfaces to choose from including a classic Mickey Mouse watch you may have remembered from the iPod Nano days.
The Apple Watch features some new and familiar inputs to interact with the software on the device. The Digital Crown on the side of the watch lets you navigate within an app and when pressed can take you back to the home screen. The other physical button under it opens up a screen with your favourite contacts for you to interact with. The screen itself is a touch screen which lets you tap and swipe but its outfitted with a new technology Apple calls Force Touch which allows the screen distinguish between a tap and a hard tap acting almost like a right click of a mouse. Finally, Siri is integrated with the watch letting you use voice to access information. 
The Watch presents some interesting way to communicate such as its Digital Touch feature which lets you send doodles and even your heartbeat to another wearer. And responding to text messages is made easy on the device through the use of predictive canned responses and a strong emphasis on the use of animated emojis. The Watch also features calling functionality with the built-in speaker and microphone.
The two immediate killer features for the device were around health and payments. The newly announced ApplePay system which allows users to pay with credit and debit cards kept in Apple’s Passbook will work on the smartwatch. And Apple unveiled two new fitness and health apps for the Watch which make use of the heart rate monitoring and activity tracking functions it comes equipped with.
But payments and health are only the tipping point for the Apple Watch as Apple also announced WatchKit to help developers build apps for the device. Apps have already been created by Starwood Hotels, to open hotel room doors with the watch, Twitter and Facebook and we are sure to see a lot more by the time the watch is ready in 2015.

Apple Enters The Wearable Category With The Apple Watch

Apple held its expected September event in Cupertino today. Among the announcements was the reveal of the new iPhone 6 including one with a larger 5.5 inch screen called the iPhone 6 Plus.  Apple also entered the mobile payments by including NFC on the latest devices and rolling out a feature called ApplePay. But it was when Tim Cook spoke the magic words “One More Thing” at the tail end of the event when things really got exciting. Cook presented a line of Apple Watches at the event officiating the rumours that the company was joining others in creating products for the wearable tech category.  

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Wearables Wrap-up: IFA, Unpacked and Motorola Launch Announcements
This week was a whirlwind of product launches for wearable tech as a couple of big events were held around the world. ASUS, Sony, Samsung and Motorola all unveiled tech you can wear on your wrists, your face and even your ears. We recap the wearables you can expect from these companies later this year.
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Motorola officially announced two wearables today including the much anticipated Moto 360 smartwatch and a smart earbud called Hint. The Moto 360 has a classic round face making it look more like a traditional timepiece than a chunky smartwatch. The device runs Android Wear which delivers notifications including Google Now messages to your wrist. It also includes an optical light sensor to track your heart rate and is the first Android Wear device to incorporate an ambient light sensor to change the screen brightness in different lighting conditions. This smartwatch will be available for purchase later this fall.
Motorola’s Hint is a smart earbud that connects via Bluetooth to your Moto smartphone to act as a digital assistant. The always-listening earbud uses voice commands to remotely control apps on your smartphone - anything from checking a text to getting turn-by-turn directions. The earbud is quite discrete and somewhat fashionable with wood, leather and fabric options to choose from. No word on when this device will be released.
Earlier this week, Samsung unveiled its first standalone smartwatch, the Gear S, at its Unpacked event. The Gear S has its own nanoSIM which allows it to be independent of a smartphone. This means you can leave your phone at home and still do things like take calls and receive messages. The device runs Samsung’s operating system, Tizen, and features a 2-inch curved OLED display making the device almost cuff like. The device will launch first in Korea in October with release in the rest of the world to be announced.  
Along with a new smartwatch, Samsung entered the Virtual Reality headset space with Samsung VR. Created in partnership with Facebook-owned, Oculus, the device is an accessory for the new Note 4 to transform the smartphone into a virtual reality entertainment device.
At IFA in Berlin, Sony and Asus launched new wrist-worn devices. ASUS got into the smartwatch space with the ZenWatch, an Android Wear device that has biometric tracking capabilities while Sony released its third generation of its Sony SmartWatch this time choosing to power the device with Android Wear. Sony also announced a new fitness band that can take calls called the Sony SmartBand Talk. The Talk is the sequel to the original SmartBand and has new features such as an e-ink display and a microphone and speaker to take and make calls. 
Next week Apple is expected to finally unveil the rumored iWatch as its first wearable device. The flurry of activity for wearable is well timed to capture the wrists, eyes and ears of consumers as they head into the holiday season.  

Wearables Wrap-up: IFA, Unpacked and Motorola Launch Announcements

This week was a whirlwind of product launches for wearable tech as a couple of big events were held around the world. ASUS, Sony, Samsung and Motorola all unveiled tech you can wear on your wrists, your face and even your ears. We recap the wearables you can expect from these companies later this year.

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Opening Ceremony To Debut Smart Bracelet at New York Fashion Week
Back in January, Intel announced that they were working with Open Ceremony to create fashionable wearable tech that would be available for sale at Barneys. This week we learned that Opening Ceremony will debut this tech as part of its Spring/Summer 2015 Fashion Show at New York Fashion Week.  
[[MORE]]The duo have created MICA, a smart bracelet that is as much fashion first as it is a device with “communications capabilities”. Powered by Intel, MICA, which stands for "My Intelligent Communication Accessory", marries luxurious design elements like semi-precious gems and snakeskin with technology to work with, and not against, a woman’s sense of style. Opening Ceremony has made two styles available for the smartband. One style will feature black watersnake skin, pearls from China, and lapis stones from Madagascar, while the other style will feature white watersnake skin, tiger’s eye from South Africa, and obsidian from Russia. Both boast a curved sapphire glass display. 
On the tech side, MICA offers mainly a host of notification features including the ability to read text messages, get meeting alerts and other general notifications. But Intel did indicate in its press release yesterday that “additional features and functionalities to be revealed at a later date.”
MICA will be available at select Barneys and Opening Ceremony stores by holiday 2014. Pricing was not announced but from the sounds of the premium materials of these accessories, and the choice of store, we can assume the price tag is going to be a higher one.

Opening Ceremony To Debut Smart Bracelet at New York Fashion Week

Back in January, Intel announced that they were working with Open Ceremony to create fashionable wearable tech that would be available for sale at Barneys. This week we learned that Opening Ceremony will debut this tech as part of its Spring/Summer 2015 Fashion Show at New York Fashion Week.  

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ASUS Latest To Launch Android Wear Watch with ZenWatch
IFA is underway in Berlin and to kick off the announcements ASUS officially unveiled its first wearable device, the Android Wear powered smartwatch, ZenWatch. The ZenWatch is just one of many smartwatches and other wearables expected to be launched at this event.
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ASUS has chosen to go with a classic timepiece look for its first watch. It features a 2.5D curved glass face and uses a soft genuine stitched-leather strap with quick-release clasp. The watch will come with a selection of interchangeable watchface apps for users to switch things up.
The ZenWatch features a version of the ASUS ZenUI which was specifically designed for the watch. It also features some pretty engaging elements, most not yet found on other Android Wear smartwatches. Users will be able to tap the watch to unlock a device or perform a pre-set function. It also comes equipped with remote camera capabilities and a means to control presentations. Of course it adds even more functionality to owners of ASUS smartphones. 
The ZenWatch is also an activity tracker, using its 9-axis sensor along with the companion ASUS ZenUI Wellness app to monitor activity, heart  rate, exercise intensity and relaxation levels. 

ASUS Latest To Launch Android Wear Watch with ZenWatch

IFA is underway in Berlin and to kick off the announcements ASUS officially unveiled its first wearable device, the Android Wear powered smartwatch, ZenWatch. The ZenWatch is just one of many smartwatches and other wearables expected to be launched at this event.

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Emotional Prosthetics, Modular Smarbands and Sixth Sense Necklaces Make Up Finalists for Intel’s Make It Wearable Challenge
Earlier this year, Intel launched its Make It Wearable challenge which asked Developers to submit a proposal and a pitch video of innovative and creative concepts. This week they announced the ten finalists who will be judged in November in San Francisco for a chance to win $500,000. The finalists represented the vast landscape of wearable tech from emotional prosthetics, to flyable and wearable cameras and smart baby wear. 
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One of the finalists from the UK, Blocks, is taking a modular approach to wearable tech in building a snapable platform. Taking cue at current modularity projects on the go like Google’s Project Ara, the team behind blocks believes that being able to swap things out is even more important for a wearable device. Blocks will let users replace or upgrade capabilities of its smartband for things like sensors, displays, processors and batteries.
  

Another team from the UK have developed the Vumble, a sports and activity necklace which tracks information from the body using vibrations and allows the user to interact with it via touch. The team describes Vumbl as being a kind of sixth sense. It’s haptic feedback can guide a user to where they need to be without a screen or can be used to enhance a game by letting the player feel the action. Vumbl’s voice control feature also acts as a Bluetooth headset to make a call or control your smartphone.

Some of the other ideas include a First V1sion - gaming system which shows the players point of view; Nixie - a wearable camera that can also fly and Snowcookie - a fitness coach for skiing. Intel has featured all ten of its finalists on the Make It Wearable challenge page. 
These teams have already won $50,000 and intensive mentoring and coaching from industry leaders such as Guy Kawasaki and author Steve Blank to help refine the projects and get them off the ground. In November, they will all compete for the grand prize of $500,000. 

Emotional Prosthetics, Modular Smarbands and Sixth Sense Necklaces Make Up Finalists for Intel’s Make It Wearable Challenge

Earlier this year, Intel launched its Make It Wearable challenge which asked Developers to submit a proposal and a pitch video of innovative and creative concepts. This week they announced the ten finalists who will be judged in November in San Francisco for a chance to win $500,000. The finalists represented the vast landscape of wearable tech from emotional prosthetics, to flyable and wearable cameras and smart baby wear. 

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Samsung & LG Announce New Smartwatches Ahead of IFA
Samsung and LG had both been teasing new smartwatches to be announced at next month’s IFA in Berlin but it looks like they have both let the cat out of the bag early! Lucky us! Specs and photos for the new Samsung Gear S and round-faced LG G Watch R were released yesterday showing off the latest wearable offerings from two companies that already have devices on people’s wrists.
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Samsung Gear S
The Samsung Gear S is a first for the manufacturer who has already released several watches and wearable bands to the market. Gear S has 3G connectivity which means that it can still perform things like make calls and receive messages even when not connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth or near a WiFi connection. 
“Samsung is leading this exciting and rapidly developing wearable category through progressive innovation,” said JK Shin, CEO and head of IT & mobile communication at Samsung Electronics. “The Samsung Gear S redefines the idea of the smart wearable and the culture of mobile communication. It will let consumers live a truly connected life anywhere, anytime.
The Gear S features a similar curved AMOLED screen featured on the Gear Fit but this one is larger measuring 2-inches making it much easier to read messages on the watch. Gear S runs Samsung’s own operating system, Tizen, which is the same OS used for Gear 2 and the Gear Neo. Samsung has featured Nokia’s HERE as included in this release to give users pedestrian turn-by-turn directions and the inclusion of Spritz technology to make content easier to read on the device.

LG G Watch R 
LG recently debuted it’s first smartwatch, LG G Watch which runs Android Wear, at Google I/O. The company is jumping on the round watch bandwagon made uber popular by Motorola’s upcoming 360 in announcing the release of the G Watch R. LG states that this will be the “world’s first watch-style wearable device to feature a circular Plastic OLED (P-OLED) display and utilizes 100 percent of its watch face”.
The LG G Watch R features a 1.3 inch full circle P-OLED screen. P-OLED allow the screen to be clear from any angle and makes it easier to read in the sun, a great feature for something you will be looking at out and about. The design of the watch is very much like, well, a watch. Its classic round face and retro finishings will win over those looking to have a smartwatch on their wrist that doesn’t look like others on the market today.
“What we’ve noticed in the year of the wearable is that this is a category that can’t be compared to smartphones and tablets,” said Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of the LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company. “Wearables are also accessories and consumers will want more than one to choose from. So we wanted to complement the modern design of the original G Watch with the classic look of the G Watch R. Customers can’t go wrong with either device.”
Like the LG G Watch before it, the G Watch R will run Google’s Android Wear. It also works with LG’s suite of health apps which work with the embedded photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor. 
Both the Samsung Gear S and the LG G Watch R are expected to be on people’s wrists later this year. Samsung states that their roll-out will begin in October while LG says to expect the G Watch R in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Samsung & LG Announce New Smartwatches Ahead of IFA

Samsung and LG had both been teasing new smartwatches to be announced at next month’s IFA in Berlin but it looks like they have both let the cat out of the bag early! Lucky us! Specs and photos for the new Samsung Gear S and round-faced LG G Watch R were released yesterday showing off the latest wearable offerings from two companies that already have devices on people’s wrists.

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