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Wearables Vendors Place Bets On Smart Watches

LAS VEGAS – Multiple smart watch vendors have adopted Google’s Android Wear OS, and Apple is ready to bring its clout to bear on the market with a first-quarter launch of its smart watch.

But here at International CES, many vendors are lining up with their own proprietary OSs to compete in a market whose 2015 U.S. shipments are forecast by Strategy Analytics to grow 291 percent to 8.8 million units, from last year’s 2.3 million, as the devices take on increased functionality through downloadable apps.

Here’s what you’ll see at the show:

Adding: The Beijing-based start-up is demonstrating its wearable technology Tony, with products that include intelligent sports gear and professional sports apps. The Tony watch monitors heart rate without need for a belt, tracks sports data including speed and calories burned, and connects to the Tony apps for analysis, advice and social contacts.

Burg: The Dutch-owned company is unveiling a new collection of smart watches with voice activation and stainless-steel housings. The watches are designed by Hermen van den Burg, the Dutch lifestyle designer for IKEA and Target.

The Burg 12, available through such retailers as Walmart brick-and-mortar stores, functions as a stand-alone phone when a GSM SIM card is inserted, but it comes with $25 prepaid talk and text. It also offers basic smartphone functions such as SMS, MMS, music and video storage and playback, FM radio, camera, calendar, calculator, and voice recorder with a a 1.5-inch 240 by 240 touchscreen display. It comes with included 4GB Micro- SD card but accepts 16GB cards.

The watch comes with black and purple straps; additional straps and bezels are available.

The other smart watch is the Burg 16A, also with built-in cellular.

ConnecteDevice: The Cogito Pop watch, appearing in the smart watch zone at Sands booth 70858, is the company’s third-gen smart watch; it features a traditional watch look with Japanese quartz analog movement.

The Hong Kong-based company said it will be available in three versions: sport/lifestyle at $99, premium at $129 and executive at $159.

When used with an app for Apple and Android phones, users can choose which notifications will appear directly on the wrist. Users can be alerted to calls, texts, tweets and other messages coming into a Bluetooth-connected phone via four LED icons.

Cogito also doubles as a fitness band, incorporating pedometer and accelerometer to view activity levels on the company’s app. When linked with the app, Cogito also lets users trigger their phone’s camera, control phone-stored music, and locate the phone.

It comes with swappable skins of different colors and textures, a stainless-steel bezel, and anti-scratch magnified face made of hardened mineral glass.

Garmin: The navigation company is launching a multisport smart watch, a fitness band and its first general-purpose smart watch, all shipping in the first quarter. All are compatible with ConnectIQ , an open platform for third parties to create apps for Garmin wearables. All let users customize watch faces or data screens and create apps and widgets, and all feature Bluetooth LE and ANT+ wireless connectivity.

The Fenix 3 watch is an outdoor ruggedized watch with outdoor navigation and advanced multisporttraining capabilities for athletes, but it’s said to be stylish enough to wear every day and incorporates smart notification. It’s available in three versions, including one with sapphire lens and stainless-steel band. Key features include GPS and GLONASS navigation for outdoor navigation features, multisport training modes, up to 50-hour battery life, and ability to withstand underwater pressure up occurring at 100 meters below the surface. The price of the gray and silver models are $499, or $549 with heart-rate monitor. The sapphire-lens version is $599.

The general-purpose Vívoactive smart watch is designed for active-lifestyle users and features builtin GPS and GPS-enabled apps for running, cycling, golfing, swimming and activity tracking. It also displays notifications from a smartphone. Features include sunlight-readable, highresolution color touchscreen, battery life up to three weeks in watch/activity-tracking mode or 10 hours when using GPS, and a water rating to 50 meters The price is $249, or $299 with heart-rate monitor.

GoldKey: The personal security technology supplier announced the first Secure Communicator, a completely independent Android smartphone built into a watch. It comes with GoldKey security inside, making it a dual-factor authentication device, and features secure email and encrypted Cloud storage. It also fully supports Gold Pay, a new secure payment platform just announced here.

The Communicator has a built-in 5-megapixel camera, an HD video camera and internal flash storage of 32GB — not to mention GPS, speaker, microphone, Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi hot spot capability. With a battery lasting all day, a serious user can shed a conventional cellphone by moving a SIM card to the Communicator, according to the company.

Guess: The fashion-watch company teamed with smartwatch maker Martian Watches to unveil the Guess Connect line, which ships in the second quarter at prices that were unavailable. The watch “represents one of the first true marriages of a fashion-watch powerhouse and a wireless technology innovator,” said Cindy Livingston, president/ CEO of Guess Watches.

Bluetooth LE delivers notifications to the watch display from thousands of apps. Users can recall the most recent notifications by tapping the watch glass. Via classic Bluetooth and an embedded microphone and speaker, users can hold a conversation and deliver voice commands to their smartphone via the smartphone’s voice-command app.

The free iOS and Android apps let users customize the notifications that will appear on the watch display and create unique vibration patterns to distinguish between alert types.

Lenovo: The PC, tablet and smartphone maker is entering the wearable segment with the Vibe Band VB10, which connects via Bluetooth to Apple and Android phones to display notifications of calls, SMS, Facebook, Twitter, We- Chat and other messaging apps up to 200 characters on a 1.43-inch e-ink display with more than 200 ppi. It also tracks fitness metrics and works with an app that lets users set goals and choose which notifications to receive. It is IPX7-rated to withstand immersion in up to 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.

Users can customize the display with different watch faces.

Magellan: A new Echo-series smart sports watch/activity tracker is the Echo Fit, which retails for a suggested $129, or $179 with Bluetooth-connected heart-rate monitor. Unlike the existing Echo smart watch, the Echo Fit displays activity and sleep without the use of a companion smartphone. It also adds the display of notifications of incoming text, phone calls and emails to a Bluetooth-connected Android or Apple smartphone.

In the first quarter, Magellan plans availability of its Active App on Google Play and iTunes. The app, which is downloaded on a smartphone, syncs with the Fit to send activity and sleep data stored on the Fit to Magellan’s Active website for sharing. The app will also enable the Fit to display notifications from third-party apps such as Skype and Facebook.

The Echo Fit displays sports app data running on a Bluetooth LEconnected smartphone in real-time so users can see important metrics with their phone safely tucked away and without stopping or pausing their workout. The watch also controls music playback on a smartphone.

The company’s utility app for smartphones enables Bluetooth connection to the Echo Fit to configure the Echo Fit’s display format (modern, analog and traditional), alarm settings, and profile and goal settings for calculating and tracking calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, and sleep patterns.

Martian Watches: The company is adding four new series to its smart watch line, including the Martian Aviator, Martian Commander, Martian Electra and Martian Monarch series, each with its own styling.

Bluetooth LE provides hands-free and eyes-free notifications to the wrist from thousands of Android and iOS smartphone apps. An on-board speaker and noise canceling mic lets users issue voice commands to their phone’s voice-command engine and hear spoken responses. Users can also place calls, send voice-to-text SMS and email messages, and listen and respond to messages. Also by voice, users can set calendar notifications, request music selections, search the web, and set reminders by voice.

With the free Android and iOS apps, users can customize the watch’s vibration pattern for different types of notifications. Users can recall previous notifications by tapping the watch glass.

The watches also remotely control the smartphone camera shutter, a “phone leash” function alerts users if they left their phone behind, and controls music selection on iOS phones.

Naxa: The company’s first three smart watches, priced at a suggested $29, $49 and $69, starts with the NSW610. It features OLED display, swappable bands in different colors, Bluetooth 4.0, 2MB flash memory, and notifications of calls, SMS, email, social-network updates, pedometer, sleep monitor, personal schedule monitor, MP3 playback, a find-myproduct feature, lithium-ion battery and USB cable.

The $49 NSW620 features 1.6- inch TFT HD color screen, 8MB of flash memory, G-Sensor, GPS, compass, built-in 2G cellular calling SIM card, built-in speaker and microphone, MicroUSB input, speed dialing and emergency calling, smartphone call notification and answering, contact phone directory, SMS reading and sending, pulse and heart-rate monitor, pedometer and sleep monitor.

The $69 NSW650 features 1.54- inch TFT HD color screen, 8MB of flash memory, G-sensor, GPS, compass, Bluetooth 3.0, calling and answering through a smartphone, microUSB input, smartphone call notification and answering, built-in speaker and microphone, and notifications that include Whatsapp, Wechat, Skype and QQ. It also features contact phone directory, pedometer, sleep monitor, clock with alarm, calendar, calculator, Find My Product and remote shutter.

Withings: The company’s Activite health-tracking watch will be joined by the Activite Pop, due in February at a suggested $149 with iOS smartphone app. An Android app is in the works.

The new model is designed to overcome the activity-tracking category’s “huge problem with abandonment” by offering a fashion-forward design, affordable price, and ease of use, the company said.

The face features two analog dials, one for time and a smaller dial showing the percentage progress toward a goal such as steps taken. The watch also tracks swimming, running and sleeping.

The watch connects to the Withings Health Mate application, which connects to more than 100 services from partner companies.