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CES 2015: Wearables Everywhere

At the annual gadget show, wearable-device makers are moving beyond activity-tracking wristbands.
January 5, 2015

The International Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas this week, is a vast celebration of every imaginable gadget and gizmo, from self-cleaning smartphone screens to self-driving cars. And while the event is not always a reliable guide (think 3-D TVs), it does reveal the industry’s best guess of what consumers might want next.

Melomind, a head-worn gadget from French company myBrain Technologies, purports to measure your brain waves and adjust music on a smartphone app as they change.

This coming year, wearable technology is expected to be big: companies at CES displayed every imaginable wearable gadget, designed for everything from baby monitoring to calmer meditation.

And at the press preview on Sunday, where gadget makers show off their latest devices, there were plenty of niche wearables on display. The Ego LS wearable camera from Liquid Image, a company based in Santa Rosa, California, will be able to stream live video over Verizon’s 4G network (though, like a portable hotspot, it will require its own data plan). The camera, which will be released in March and cost $399 with an attachable 4G module, will also work with some as-yet-unnamed trackers to show your activity data live.

Wearable makers are also working on ways to take more accurate, intimate measurements than you can get with just an accelerometer. Singapore-based Zensorium, for instance, will soon start selling Being, a wearable device that can be worn as a smart watch or clipped to your clothing. When it’s on the wrist, an optical sensor on its back can continuously measure your heart rate and blood pressure, and it will use those readings to measure your stress. The watch, which is expected to ship in three months, will cost $199.

Among the odder-looking wearables on display was the head-worn Melomind from Paris-based myBrain Technologies, a digital meditation aid that shares EEG measurements with your smartphone.

Melomind looks like a cross between a headband and a bike helmet, with several metal electrodes touching different parts of the wearer’s head. Cofounder Thibaud Dumas, who wore a Melomind while speaking, explained that the device measures a user’s brain waves and sends them to a smartphone app via Bluetooth; the app also plays music that Dumas said will adjust with your changing brain waves in an effort to help you relax. The device will cost $299, and the company hopes to release it in late 2015.

Also on show at CES: Pacif-i, a pacifier made by U.K.-based Blue Maestro that measures a baby’s temperature and shares it via smartphone, and Tzoa, a wearable device made by Vancouver-based Clad Innovations that measures air pollution and UV exposure.

The many wearable devices and smart appliances on display at CES could also signal new opportunities for tech companies to target offerings to your behavior, said Shawn DuBravac, the chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, during a talk on Sunday. For instance, by monitoring your smart thermostat, in-home camera, and smart watch, he said, Netflix might eventually be able to determine that you’re alone, sad, and cold and offer a movie that might cheer you up.

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