Wearable technologies certainly got a workout this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, but beyond the smart onesies, watches, rings and toothbrushes, do any offer lasting real-world utilty?
Jeff Carroll, director of engagement for IPG's Media Lab, found several less-heralded devices that he believes have staying power, and provide interesting opportunities for brands.
Health risks from head injuries are probably the biggest risk to organized football. "Moms could literally stop football," said Mr. Carroll. But this wearable device measures trauma to the head that coaches could use to detect or prevent concussions in football, hockey and other sports. A tab hangs out from the back of the helmet and lights up red in the event of an unsafe hit. "The NFL could get behind this," said Keith Stern, who was manning the booth for Reebok.
Here's Jeff giving it a whirl:
Ibitz by Geo Palz
Activity monitors like Fitbit, Shine, Nike FuelBand and the like have been around for a while, but none address the needs of increasingly sedentary kids. Ibitz by Geo Palz comes in kid-appealing colors and allows parents to monitor and set activity goals. Want to unlock that iPad? Take another 3,000 steps, please. You can imagine marketers of kid-oriented snacks creating exercise incentives to unlock goodies.
This looks more like a piece of jewelry than a standard wearable, but it's got an important job: keeping track of how much time you're spending in the sun. "As a fair-skinned guy, I often forget and this can remind you," Mr. Carroll said. The device takes into account your skin tone and also suggests sun protection. And when you've had enough, it can tell you to put on protective clothing or go indoors.
Say hello to a Fitbit for dogs. And cats. Australia-based Tractive, which makes GPS monitors for pets, unveiled its PetBit at CES. You see, pet obesity is a big problem. The PetBit uses an accelerometer, temperature and brightness sensors to detect pet activity. Pets can be classified as "lazy," "moderately active," or "active," earning "Pet-Points" for getting off the couch.