The new entries by LG, Polar and Garmin in the area of wearable technologies are offering new functionalities as compared to the latest version of Nike's Fuelband and other bracelets recently released by the Swoosh and other sports brands including Adidas and Puma. They were among the highlights of last week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where a report by Juniper Research predicted that more than 130 million wearable devices will be sold by 2018.
LG, which is a relative outsider in the sports sector, jumped on the bandwagon by launching its Lifeband Touch bracelet, which features a touch screen and allows other functions besides tracking the runner's speed, distance and calory consumption. Available in Europe for €179 to €189, the Korean company's device also allows the consultation of text messages or the choice of a music piece to hear through the cell phone.
Polar Electro's new device, the Polar Loop, looks particularly interesting because of its versatility and its playful dimension, besides its rather stylish design. It uses an application and Bluetooth Smart connection with an online service that show not only the level of activity, but also what the wearer can do to reach his or her daily goal, suggesting a wide variety of activities – not just walking, running or exercising, but also cleaning, cooking or playing the guitar. It measures five levels of activity, taking into account the wearer's gender and age.
The Polar Flow service is part of a wider “smart coaching system” developed by the Finnish company. It provides information not only about calorie burn and weight loss, but also on other benefits of physical activity such as sleep quality, mental sharpness and heart health, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Polar is the company that pioneered the wireless heart monitor in 1977. It launched its new bracelet in the U.S., Canada and Finland at the end of last year, with a suggested retail price of US$99.90 or €89.90. It is now rolling it out in Europe and other parts of the world. The application is currently available for the iPhone. An Android version will follow soon.
Garmin has also entered the segment with a fitness band coming with a program that “makes every step count,” as the company says to describe its new product, called Vivofit. It's the only bracelet that greets users with a personalised daily goal that they can track down, giving warning signals after one hour of inactivity. As milestones are met, the bracelet will adjust the goal for the next day. Vivofit also monitors the quality of rest during sleep.
Vivofit is water-resistant. The device can be linked with the Garmin Connect program to give the user a complete picture of the progress made and to link up up with a free online community. It can be combined with a heart monitor. It is being made available in Europe at a suggested retail price of €119.00, or €149.00 including the heart rate monitor.
Meanwhile, a Taiwanese company, Fego Precision Industrial Co., filed a suit against Nike last Dec. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to invalidate two patents registered by the Swoosh for its Nike+ Fuelband, which measures the wearer's movement while serving as a watch.