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Wearables that aren't just for gym bunnies

Think Fitbit is the end all, be all for wearables? Think again, says NIB's Ben Rose.

When you read the word ‘wearable’, you’re likely to read about the latest Fitbit, Garmin or Adidas offering which will tell you how many steps you’ve walked, at what altitude, at what heart rate, etc. They belong on the wrists of athletes or those who aspire to be athletes. As someone passionate about the health industry who works at health insurer NIB, I understand the role these can and will continue to play in healthcare.

What these devices do well is combine data such as your heart rate, movement, location and information you’ve previously submitted (usually via your smartphone) to create useful insights or actions. And while the gym isn’t for everybody, the fusion of data and technology into meaningful value really can be.

Something I’ve written about previously is how lucky we are to live in times of rapid and ubiquitous technological advances. Nowhere is this more evident than in the plethora of wearables that seem to be looking for funding or hitting the market every day.

Some of these will last, some won’t. It’ll be interesting to see which ones go the distance and crack the holy grail of wearable tech: not just being worn as a novelty for a few weeks, but becoming an essential part of their wearer’s routine.

Here are some really interesting examples:

Halo Neuroscience

Sounds like science fiction, but isn’t. This company develops beautifully designed devices that, in a non-invasive way, stimulate the part of the brain responsible for muscle movement. They call this Neuropriming. They say it helps users “unlock their potential in every way possible”, and it is already being used by elite US athletes. The San Francisco Giants recently announced the inclusion of Halo’s ‘Sport’ device into their training programme.

Waverly Pilot

If you, like me, spent years of your life studying foreign languages, the announcement of this device fills you in equal part with wonder and resentment. Having raised $4.4 million in one of the largest wearable device crowdfunding appeals ever, this device is in production and likely to ship towards the end of 2017. Paired with a smartphone app, the Waverly Pilot earpieces enable you to understand and speak in a whole range of different languages. These really could unlock the world for travel, business, relationships, you name it. If only they’d invented these a few decades ago...

Cosmo Connected

This is a light that attaches to the rear of a user’s bike helmet, and shines brightly when the user brakes to make sure they’re visible to others on the road. It’ll also connects to your smartphone to call for help if you’re in an accident, and send out an emergency signal with GPS coordinates if set to do so.

Topshop bPay accessories

UK clothing giant Topshop has partnered up with Barclays Bank to integrate their bPay payments chip into some very stylish accessories – there are bracelets, phone cases and smartphone trinkets. Blends high street fashion with contactless technology for another take on wearable tech – love it.

So wearables really have come of age. Now both form and function are evolving – I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Ben Rose is the general manager of direct and partnerships at NIB New Zealand.
This story first appeared at StopPress.

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