6 Technologies We'll Be Wearing This Year

What To Wear

The Wearable Tech Expo took place in New York City last week and the CRN Test Center was there to try it on for size. With just a few hundred attendees and less than two dozen exhibitors, this year's confab was smaller than we have come to expect, but certainly not short on innovation. Here's a look at the highlights.


Headset maker Jabra was demonstrating the latest version of its Jabra Rox Bluetooth earbuds. Intelligence within this dirt- and perspiration-resistant headset automatically turns off power when removing the buds, which clock together like a necklace. "Because they're made of steel, we were able to do some creative things with magnets," said Jason Hussey, an indirect account executive with Jabra. "Power comes back on when they're pulled apart and they pair with your device by the time they're back in the ears," he said. For $129 list, the device also works as a wireless headset and can remotely answer calls. "Most runners won't necessarily be making calls, but they'll usually take one if it comes in."

HZO For H20

"When given a choice to buy a regular compass or one that's waterproof for $50 more, people choose the waterproof one nine times out of ten," said Chris Weed, director of business development at HZO. The flagship of this 2011 nanotechnology startup is WaterBlock, a dielectric thin-film coating that makes electronics impervious to water and other liquids while adding very little to device cost. "The cheapest way is to apply our coating during the manufacturing process, which adds about $10 to the end-user price," he said. If added afterward, Weed said WaterBlock might add around $60 to the cost, a steal compared with an inundated iPhone.

Freescale On WaRP

To build wearable tech, manufacturers face restrictions on power, connectivity, size, usability and myriad other factors. Addressing some of these needs is the wearable reference platform, an open-source project for running Android. Freescale is a major contributor to the project, and the Motorola spinoff was on hand to demonstrate several real-world implementations of the platform that are already in production. The WaRPboard combines a Cortex A9 ARM-based Freescale processor with a daughtercard option for deploying peripherals based on need. "We use a daughtercard with a microcontroller to handle wireless charging and a sensor hub, and frees up the main processor for other tasks," said Sujata Neidig, Freescale's business development manager.

Stelle Audio

If there ever was one, here's the ultimate gift for the woman who has everything. The Audio Clutch lets the music come along in style. This Bluetooth stereo unit works for 15 hours between charges and according to Steele Audio president and co-founder Wayne Ludlum, delivers sound that's on par with portables from Jambox and Beats Audio. "If a woman brings this home and her significant other says it sounds bad, she won't want to use it," he said. Designated as Best in Class at CES this year, Audio Clutch sells for $199 at Saks, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and other high-end retailers.


These might look like ordinary sunglasses, but inside the $199 Kudu is an HD camera built in that can record an hour of 1,080p video and audio. And for $100 more, maker Pivothead this fall will add the ability to stream live video from its wearable imaging equipment directly to the Web. Accessories include prescription lenses, hot-swap batteries and wireless storage. Beyond their entertainment value for families and Youtubers, the company envisions wide adoption for law enforcement as a replacement for the dashcam; among field-service organizations, which could reserve senior-level technicians for the back end to assist junior staff in the field; and for athletes. "I could see sports teams offering fans access to the 'Manning-cam' or to see and hear what it's like when a pitcher warms up," said Zach Barbitta, the company's U.S. director of operations.

Motorola HC1

During a most interesting keynote, senior maverick at Motorola Solutions Nicole Tricoukes spoke of the HC1 Headset Computer, the company's latest appliance with applications across numerous industries. "Sometimes there's just nowhere to rest a rugged tablet," said Tricoukes. Even though it's been available for less than a year, the HC1 is already being used in trauma care scenarios, construction sites, nontactical military operations, manufacturing and field service. "This device can do the actual work; it's not a slave to a tablet or some other device."

Headset Computer

The HC1 runs Windows CE 6 Pro on a TI OMAP processor and is designed to provide the capabilities of a stand-alone computer in conditions that don't permit anything but a wearable. Also included in this IP67-rated modular device are accelerometer, gyroscope, HD video and other sensors, a noise-canceling mic, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and a microdisplay configurable for viewing with the left or right eye. "Our brains are still the most wearable computer out there, but devices can enhance that," said Motorola's Tricoukes. List pricing starts at $4,500.