Wearable device market overview with a brief historical background

Devices that once were beyond fantasy, and which had only special agents from cool militants in their arsenal, have now become commonplace. In the first half of the year, manufacturers shipped 6 million gadgets that monitor the pulse, complement reality and train their owners.

In this post, we will talk about various wearable devices, including fitness bracelets, smart watches and glasses, as well as special gadgets for children.


Smart glasses

First of all, it is worth saying that there are “smart” glasses, and there are “virtual reality glasses”. Both of these options apply to wearable electronics.

Google Glass were, of course, not the first glasses that could show the user any information. Similar projects for athletes have been around for many years.

Take, for example, the 2007 HUD glasses . They have an LED display of 160x120 pixels, on which statistics such as heart rate, speed and so on should be displayed. Information should be transmitted from the "smart" clock in the kit. Unfortunately, the project did not reach commercial implementation, unfortunately. Apparently, manufacturers slightly overtook time and did not fall into the trend.

And what about virtual reality glasses - so there were a lot of them. For example, Nintendo in 1994 introduced Virtual Boy, a source of sore eyes and neck in children and adults.

Does Johnny Mnemonic remember everything? In the film, they showed themselves quite a viable form factor for virtual reality glasses and the gloves that come with the set, which provide movement control .

And what is on sale? Or what is being prepared for release? It does not make sense to list everything, so only a few projects will have to be mentioned.

Epson Moverio BT-200

This model is equipped with two translucent displays, which give a total of 960x540 pixels. And the image you see will be the same as a forty-inch TV from a distance of two and a half meters. The weight of the device is 88 grams, which is a bit much for glasses, but, given that the glasses are not quite ordinary, it may be acceptable.

Another unusual format is a specialized motorcycle helmet . In a couple of weeks he will raise funds for Indiegogo, although now he has already raised almost $ 1.5 million instead of the planned 250 thousand. So far, everything says that people really want and have long been waiting for such a "smart" gadget.

But for Google Glass they are already trying to use it for medical purposes, and even in the police. The company will have enough money to support the project as long as it wants, until there are big sales.

For example, glasses are used to help people with Parkinson's disease . Glasses remind you of taking medicine, or even that you need to "swallow saliva" or get out of the stupor inherent in those suffering from this ailment.

Smart glasses may not be so initially, but may be the result of adding some special device to them, as happened with OrCam. This is a slightly different type: it is a system for people with vision problems. You can say, "virtual vision" - glasses will help to recognize objects and faces, give various tips and help to read, reporting on the printed text in the headphone. In addition, the system remembers familiar places.

Speaking of virtual reality goggles, one cannot but mention the Oculus Rift, which also appeared thanks to the support of Kickstarter. These 3D glasses have a resolution of 1280x800 pixels and a good viewing angle. In addition to the game application, you can find other ways to use points for example, for example, viewing apartments in the online planner.

Smart watch

First, let's determine which watch is “smart”? Let’s take the definition of “computerized wristwatch with advanced functionality, except for standard time tracking.” In this case, watches with calculators, players, and so on, which have been numerous in history, also fall into the category of “smart” ones. We will mention them in passing, because you can already read in detail on Habré here .

Let's start in 1972, when the first Pulsar electronic watches appeared.

And in 1977, five years later, HP showed the world a HP-01 watch with a calculator. Price - from 650 to 850 dollars. Now it is about 2600–3400 dollars. True, the case was made of steel or gold - in five versions.

In 1984, a device already appeared that is close to gadgets that sync with your smartphones - the RC-1000 Wrist Terminal allows you to set up access to Apple, Commodore, and IBM computers.

And one of the first attempts to make a watch with the ability to call was made in 1999 by Samsung. Now you will not surprise anyone with such a device. Another question, why is this necessary if you have a smartphone in your pocket?

While Apple has not yet released their own smart watches, Android remains the main operating system for such gadgets. Now Android Wear has appeared - Google realized that it’s enough to scoff at the developers and force them to remake this OS, but it’s better to release a standardized version for a specific segment.

As I said at the very beginning, in the first six months of this year, manufacturers shipped 6 million devices. But it is not yet known how much was actually bought.

Let's first talk about the segment leaders - Samsung, Pebble and Sony.


The company has made many attempts to do something on the market for wearable gadgets, but for the most part ahead of the time, so it was impossible to be proud of sales. Now the company is a leader according to Canalys, but only in shipping.

Also this year, the Gear Live watch was introduced, which uses Android Wear. Parameters can be seen in this picture. I am glad that there is a heart rate monitor.

While preparing this post, Samsung showed another watch - Gear S. What is unusual is that there is 3G and a SIM card slot. So it will be possible to answer sms directly from the clock.


In second place is Pebble. The manufacturer was able to spend the money collected on Kickstarter correctly, and in 2013, buyers were able to get the first copies. They use their own operating system Pebble OS.

This year, a new modification came out - Pebble Steel, which look much more stylish. Just because of the material used in the case.

The watch will show incoming calls, emails, calendar events, notifications from social networks and SMS messages. After pairing with a smartphone, Pebble will also allow you to control music, show driving speed and other data.


Sony has two lines in its arsenal - SmartBand and SmartWatch.

Sony SmartWatch 2 came out in 2013. They are equipped with NFC, Bluetooth 3.0 and a 1.6-inch touch screen with a resolution of 220x176 pixels. Of the benefits - protection against moisture and dust. The device is a “partner” of your smartphone; it allows you to receive notifications and manage music.

In September, the company will introduce SmartWatch 3, which is promised to receive a completely new Android interface. 3G will not, have to be content with Wi-Fi. Price and appearance have not yet been disclosed.

Fitness trackers

If we talk about fitness trackers, then I think it’s worth starting with a brief digression into the history of heart rate monitors. Why? Because this, in my opinion, again, is one of the main functions of a modern fitness tracker, although it is not present in each of them.

The fact is that effective heart training occurs during physical exertion in the case when your heart rate is in a certain interval. If I'm not mistaken, this is 110-140 beats per minute.

We owe the creation of an optical heart rate sensor, the principle of which is used in most modern wearable gadgets with a heart rate monitor, to Polar, which was opened in 1977 with the aim of creating such gadgets for the Finnish ski team.

Four years later, the world's first Polar Sport Tester PE 2000 sports smartwatch appeared. They included a heart rate monitor and an alarm clock. What else could you need in 1981 during a training session?

Over the years, the company has added other features - for example, the same pedometer and compass, as well as step length. The latest Polar models even have a function of forecasting loads to achieve certain goals, based on information collected about the user.

And now how to make people buy and use bracelets? Gamification comes to the rescue. You can compare various achievements with other users of similar devices.

A huge number of devices of this type does not allow you to physically write about all in one article, so the review will cover several gadgets of various types. We’ll talk about the simplest heart rate monitors - gadgets that only measure heart rate and have a couple more functions, as well as more complicated devices with sleep tracking and smart alarms, and equipped with displays gadgets that belong to the category of smart watches at the same time.

Simple heart rate monitors

Heart rate monitors are of two types - with and without a chest sensor. In the second case, you just wear a bracelet or watch on your hand, which is much more convenient. If we talk about possible errors, a comparison of Mio Alpha and a heart rate monitor with a chest sensor showed that they are insignificant.

MIO Link

The Link heart monitor cannot even show you what your heart rate is. Because he does not have a display. But without a chest sensor, he will track the rhythm and send data to a smartphone, where you can watch them using the application. It uses electro-optical technology.

Display Trackers

Some devices simply transmit data to a smartphone, while others will show everything directly on the display available in the design.


The activity tracker has an OLED display of 128x32 pixels, which allows you to increase the operating time on a single battery charge up to two weeks. The device measures the pulse and blood oxygen saturation, counts calories burned, and also monitors the quality of sleep.


This simple watch also pleases with its price - less than three thousand rubles, as well as an almost waterproof case - they will protect it from rain.

That's just for the Russian winter, they are rather weak, since the range of operating temperature is from 0 to +40 degrees. The watch will remind you to get up and run. Or walk at least. They also monitor their sleep.


C Polar is much more complicated. This watch will tell you what the effect of training will be, give recommendations, accurately calculate the number of calories burned. It is possible to manually set the target zone of the pulse - as I wrote above, for training the heart. The kit includes a chest sensor.

Also, the gadget will remember 99 workouts and help them analyze.


Manufacturers of sportswear and accessories are not far behind high-tech companies. Adidas in its arsenal has miCoach Smart Run, capable of measuring heart rate, pace of running, and equipped with GPS for recording and saving the route. Inside there are also three gigabytes of memory for music.


Analytical agency Canalys, when calculating shipped wearable devices, divided them into two categories - “smart” and “basic”. In the case of the “basic” devices it was a question of fitness bracelets. Fitbit and Jawbone became the leaders here, so first I’ll talk about their products, and then a few more examples.


Fitbit was established in 2007 with the goal of developing and releasing wearable devices. Now, under this brand, a mass of devices in various form factors, from clothespins and bracelets to sports smart watches, have been released.

Last May, the Fitbit Flex bracelet was released. He watches his owner around the clock, even during sleep. The display consists of five LEDs that show the number of steps taken, and with the help of vibration, notify about the achieved goals.

Jawbone up24

Jawbone has two products from the fitness tracker segment: these are UP and UP24. In the first case, to transfer data, you need to connect the bracelet to the smartphone via the headphone jack, in the second case, the bracelet is synchronized with the smartphone via Bluetooth, which is convenient.

I went around with the Jawbone UP24 bracelet for a while. The thing is interesting, the gamification is done well, but still annoying is the lack of a heart rate monitor. But still, such a bracelet can be bought only because of the alarm clock: I have experienced it myself - it wakes up at the right time, while not disturbing our relatives. With a small child, this is just a must.

MIO Fuse

Another option from MIO is Fuse. He also does not need a chest sensor. The LED display will show the heart rate at the touch of a button. In addition, he will calculate the distance traveled and calories burned.

Other form factors

Misfit shine

A fitness tracker in the form of a tablet can be worn both on the arm and on the neck, or as a brooch on clothes, for which special accessories are used. The dimensions of Shine are 27.7 mm in diameter and 3.3 mm in thickness.

All controls are made from a smartphone. You set a goal - how much you want to swim or run in a day, and then reach it.

In addition, the gadget will track your sleep.

Fitbit one

This is a gadget in the classic clothespin form factor. But it can be worn on the arm, using a special bandage from the kit. He will also count the steps and follow up on the goal, thereby helping to stay in shape.

Withings pulse

Another pedometer is Withings Pulse. And this gadget, again, can be hooked into your pants and pulled onto your hand using a special bracelet. He monitors the sleep, measures the pulse and counts the calories burned. One of the pluses - the manufacturer promises to work without recharging up to two weeks.


Ralph lauren

The renowned clothing company Ralph Lauren has more than once taken up the development of “smart” clothing. There were already ski jackets with MP3 players, for example. This summer, the manufacturer showed a T-shirt that can take steps, monitor heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, and so on. All information will be available on the smartphone screen. The next step is to issue a shirt with the same features.


Will you wear a T-shirt with such a blab? It doesn’t look as cool as Iron Man’s costume, of course, but quite functional. The platform from the Spanish company Nuubo includes a T-shirt with textile electrodes that read ECG, a wireless information receiver and an analysis and visualization program, the results of which you will already see on your smartphone.

Baby gadgets

Of course, the fashion for wearable gadgets has spread to children. In addition, for a long time in stores there are toys that imitate all sorts of superhero or spy watches or glasses. So why don't these devices become real? You can read more about children's gadgets in this article , and now - briefly about them.

Fitness trackers for kids

Bracelets like KidFit and Leapband are designed for different ages. If the second option will appeal to the smallest, from 4 to 7 years old, then the first looks just like an adult gadget. Gamification is configured accordingly - Leapband allows you to spend “accumulated” points on the purchase of animals.

In the case of KidFit, parents set their own tasks for the child.


The iSwimband device sends signals to the smartphone to parents if the sensor is under water for a certain time. This is not the best and most convenient, but still a way to protect children while relaxing at sea or at the pool.

A slightly more widely specialized LG KizON device will help determine where your baby is.


Sproutling is a complete health tracker for the smallest, in terms of absolutely infants. This contraption on the leg together with the “base” determines 17 parameters, including the pulse and the air temperature in the room. In my opinion, the development is excellent, except for one “but”: for a long time I would not leave a bracelet on the baby’s leg. But this is already particular, nothing prevents you from wearing it for half an hour several times a day or in special cases, for example, after vaccination, when it is necessary to monitor the temperature of the baby.


Large companies are lucky: Google and Samsung have the opportunity to experiment, supporting projects afloat even in case of failure. And smaller manufacturers, like Pebble, have to “shoot” only once and hope to hit the target. Pebble was lucky, but many of the gadgets that once received funding on Kickstarter or Indiegogo will not be destined to see the light. Wearable electronics can not yet compete in sales with smartphones. If in the first six months of 2014 300 million mobile phones were sold, then only 6 million were shipped smart watches and bracelets. But this figure, according to analysts, will grow steadily.

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