The Best, Worst and Most Underwhelming Pieces of Wearable Tech at CES 2016

From by Marissa Stempien
The Best, Worst and Most Underwhelming Pieces of Wearable Tech at CES 2016

People have been hesitant to make wearables a part of their everyday lives. We’re fine toting around our phones, laptops and being surrounded by all manner of technology, but everything that’s been hitting the market, from the failed Google Glass to the more successful Apple Watch, has been met with mild interest and even milder sales numbers. Last week, CES showcased a few pieces of wearable tech that left us both pumped, and a little disappointed. Maybe it’s our expectation for something seamless, fashionable and innovative, but it seems like we just need more.

ces wearable techPhoto Credit: Casio

We were disappointed by the lack of anything new in smartwatches. Instead of updated tech, the same pieces came in new colors or metals like Samsung Gear S2 in 18-karat rose gold. The category felt a little stagnant. The Casio Smart Outdoors Android Wear WSD-F10, on the other hand, is an exciting $500 smartwatch that’s outfitted with a pressure sensor, compass, tide graph, altimeter, accelerometer and activity tracker. It also has dual LCD screens, one color and one black and white, to extend battery life up to a month. Every tool may not be used daily, but it could be infinitely helpful to avid outdoor adventurers.

ces wearable tech Photo Credit: OMSignal

Wearable clothing has been slowly gaining in popularity, but there were clear hits and misses within this subcategory. Belty, a leather belt that vibrates and buzzes when you’re slouching or walking too slow, seems too gimmicky (and at $395, ridiculous). The recently-debuted OMSignal, however, has the potential to change the way we interact with our wardrobe in day-to-day life. Being touted as the world’s first smart bra, the digitally connected lingerie has the ability to detect a number of biometrics through its smart fabric, a textile that cofounder Stephane Marceau claims can be added into any article of clothing. You don’t even have to give up your favorite styles to stay connected.

ces wearable tech Photo Credit: Fossil

Fitness trackers are known for being plain and generally unattractive, but recently, brands have been trying to make them more fashionable by building them right into bracelets—which is probably why we enjoyed the Q Dreamer tracker from Fossil. Despite it being another fitness device you can strap to your wrist this one is actually quite pretty. Coming in several metals and leather colorways, it does everything other trackers do, just more fashionably. Under Armour’s Healthbox was pretty underwhelming though, a tracker and chest strap that for $400 seems too similar to every other fitness tracker out there. It does everything any other device can do, with the addition of detailed exercise routines and dietary information (aren’t there apps for that?).


A photo posted by Phi Illuminated Design (@phi_fashion) on Mar 29, 2015 at 1:27pm PDT

 Some of the best wearables were experimental pieces that displayed how technology could be integrated into our current wardrobes instead of the other way around. Conceptual designs allowed us to see what’s possible with the marriage of tech and design rather than focusing solely on function. Phi Illuminated presented an origami dress during CES’ FashionWare’s runway show that was 3D printed and outfitted with LED lights and sensors to control the lighting level with a flick of the wrist. The gown was priced at $3,000 and isn’t publically available, but it definitely shows what’s feasible when it comes to 3D printing and integrated tech.

ces wearable techPhoto Credit: Casio

It’s easy to assume that in the next 10 years, all of our everyday tech will be wearable, but it needs to have the right looks, hardware and software to integrate seamlessly into our lives—and it appears most brands are having a hard time balancing the three. There needs to be a shift away from simple fitness tracking and a move into more relevant, fully-functional devices. The Apple Watch is on its way, and a number of brands are showing the possibilities of what tech can do, but right now the market feels more stagnant than it has in the past. Hopefully next year will offer some breakout devices and a new look at the way wearables can be used.