It's that time of year again! The holidays are upon us and it's going to be a Wearable Wonderland! Wearable tech is the perfect gift to put under the tree and this year I'm making it easy with my list of the top wearables to wrap up and give.
I've made my list and I've checked it twice! Here are my top picks for wearable gifts this holiday season. (All prices in USD)
Best Smartwatch: Apple Watch
Apple Watch is Apple's first wearable. Launched in June of this year, the Watch comes in three styles and has a variety of band options which are easy to swap out. Users can also switch up their watch face including adding watch complications to get easy access to information such as sports scores, weather and calendar events. The Watch also has a motion sensor and heart rate monitor which allows it to double as a fitness tracker. As well, Apple Watch supports apps which can be downloaded from the App Store.
Why I picked it: Apple Watch is the one wearable I haven't taken off since launch. Not only does it feel good on my wrist but I love how it shaves seconds off of the time it takes to check notifications by simply glancing down at my wrist. I wasn't a huge activity tracking person but after updating my watch face with fitness details, Apple Watch has got me off the couch and moving to try to hit my daily goals. Although there is a lot of room for better (killer) apps on Apple Watch, I believe in the Apple developer ecosystem and new apps are popping up regularly especially now that developers have deeper access to sensors on the device. But beyond the functionality, Apple Watch makes a perfect gift because of the wide variety of options in styles and straps which let's you really personalize it for the person you are buying for. And if you are buying for someone that already has an Apple Watch, a new strap is a also a great choice this year.
Price: Starting at $349
Best Fitness Tracker: Misfit Flash
Misfit Flash is an affordable fitness and sleep tracker which doubles as a smart button for your connected world. Flash comes in a variety of fun colors and can be worn on your wrist, put in your pocket or clipped to your clothing. Flash tracks your activity such as your steps and calories as well as monitors your sleep quality. With Misfit's Link app you can also use Flash to control presentations, as a selfie button, change music on your Bluetooth connected speaker system and more.
Why I picked it: I've been a big fan of Misfit (recently acquired by Fossil) for a long time. They have made some smart choices in how to accessorize their fitness tracker and weren't afraid to drop the price to make their devices affordable to the masses. The Flash is one of the cheapest fitness devices you can get, making it a perfect stocking stuffer and I love that it comes in seven different fun colors. And the Internet of Things (IoT) smart button feature is a plus!
Best Wellness Wearable: Lumo Lift
Lumo Lift is a posture and activity tracker that you clasp on to your shirt, bra or undershirt. Lift monitors your shoulder position and then gently vibrates when you are out of alignment to remind you to sit or stand up straight. You can check out your posture progress over time in the Lumo Lift app or engage in coach mode to help you better your posture using the device. Lift has a variety of clasp styles such as metallic, jewelled and even Swarovski Crystal which you can purchase to accessorize the wearable.
Why I picked it: I am a total hunchback at work! My shoulders, neck and back are constantly barking at me and so any device that can help me sit up straight and have less pain is a good pick in my books. I've called Lumo Lift the "nagging mom of wearable tech" and that is because, if you have bad posture like me, it will keep buzzing and buzzing until you put your shoulders back. As annoying as it sounds...it works! Standing up straight not only helps you feel better but it will also help you look more confidant which is an added bonus. And I love that you can use this device and never look at the app as Lumo Lift uses haptic feedback (or vibrations) to tell you when you need to correct your alignment.
Best Brain Wearable: Muse
Muse is a brain-sensing headband that acts as your personal meditative assistant. The device monitors your brainwaves to help you focus and find your calm. The Muse app walks you through a meditative experience using audio cues to tell you when your brain is more active or focused and calm. Muse's app also quantifies the experience to show your meditative improvement over time.
Why I picked it: The Muse experience is something you will never forget. It is extremely visceral and meaningful and has a lasting impact on your everyday life. Meditation is one of those things you usually can't figure out if you are doing right or getting better at, but Muse quantifies the experience by showing you how calm and focused you are in each session. The audio cues are a great way to guide your meditation during a session and you will find yourself craving to hear birds (which signal deep pockets of calm) both while meditating as well as in your daily life.
Best Smart Jewellery: Ringly
Ringly has developed a line of connected jewellery which lets you keep your smartphone in your purse or pocket and focus on what's happening in the real world around you. The rings, which come in a variety of finishes and stones, vibrate and light up with LEDs to tell you when you have a notification. You can easily configure the vibrational pattern and LED color to the types of notifications you want to receive on your smart ring in the Ringly app for things like your email, calls and even Facebook messages.
Why I picked it: The future of wearables is that they don't look like tech at all and Ringly hits this mark now. When I show these rings to people they can't believe its connected tech. Ringly's collections are fashion first and the variety of finishes and stones means you can find the ring that is perfect for your secret Santa this year. I love the mission behind the ring which is to stop you from from staring down at a screen and instead focus on the person across from you. Plus the ring case doubles as a charger which is a nice touch.
Price: Starting at $195
Best Smart Clothing: Athos
Athos is a smart clothing company that offers both smart shirts and smart shorts. The clothing has sensors woven into the fabric which monitors your activity, heart rate, and even your muscle effort. The smart fitness clothing connects to the Athos app where your data is visualized to help push you to the next level while working out.
Why I picked it: My experience with Athos was extremely memorable. I was wearing the smart shorts doing squats and found out that I hardly used my glutes. This has changed the way I think about using my body both in workouts and just as I move in my everyday life. The Athos app is easy to understand and I love the visuals they use where your body parts light up in real-time while you are exercising to show you your muscle effort. The clothing looks pretty slick too.
Price: Starting at $398
Best Sports Wearable: Blast Motion
Blast Motion is a sports analysis system which uses the combination of wearable sensors and video to help athletes better their game and capture their best shots to share with the world. The Precision Motion Sensor clips on to an athletes waist band and captures performance metrics such as acceleration, rotation and jump height. Blast shows all this data in its companion app and combines this data with the video you've captured to help take your performance to the next level.
Why I picked it: There are a few sports wearables out there but what I loved about the Blast Motion system is the combo of data and video as a coaching tool by overlaying the data points at the key points in your training. Blast also makes it extremely easy to share these videos with your networks and friends. Blast also has a system for a variety of sports including Basketball, Golf, Baseball and more.
Best Wearable Camera: Narrative Clip
Narrative Clip is a wearable camera that clips on to your clothing and takes a picture every 30 seconds (or how ever often you'd like it too). Narrative lets you be in the moment and capture authentic videos by removing the need for you to take the picture. It takes the picture for you! As Narrative is a camera that you wear, it will also take a picture from a whole new point of view.
Why I picked it: Outside of my Apple Watch, Narrative is the other wearable that I wear on a regular basis. I personally like the look of the camera which comes in different colors. But I also love that this wearable is one that I wear and it completely slips into the background. This wearable requires no effort on my part, in fact, I often forget that I have it on until someone mentions it. Plus Narrative 2 (which just started to ship) now has video recording, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity which means that this little camera just got a lot smarter.
Price: Starting at $149
Best Virtual Reality Device: Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR Consumer Edition is the first official consumer virtual reality headset on the market created in partnership with Samsung and Oculus (owned by Facebook). The Gear VR uses a Galaxy smartphone as the screen and computing power which docks into the headset to let you BE in a movie, or game rather than just watch it. The device uses 360 degree content and adds depth thanks to the stereoscopic lenses combined with head tracking to let you look up and down and all around just like you would in real life. The experience is extremely immersive and powerful.
Why I picked it: VR is something you can't write about...you have to experience it. Looking at videos and photos in 360 degrees is something else. But what's really powerful are the true VR experiences which allow you to interact with the content as if it were real reality (or as close as it can get at this time). What's great about this device is that if you already have a Galaxy series smartphone its pretty darn affordable (not so much if you have to buy both). And the Oculus Store has a growing list of apps and content including some well know brand names like Netflix and the Avengers
Best Smartglasses: Recon Jet
Recon Jet is a heads-up display for sports. These smartglasses have a screen which is at eye level to give you vital information while you are running or biking without having to pull out your phone or look down at a watch or other device. The glasses have built-in motion tracking and GPS to show stats like distance run, cadence, speed and more right at a glance as well as a camera to capture photo and video. Recon pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth to bring up emails and calls without you having to stop your run or ride to answer.
Why I picked it: The smartglasses space is just getting started and Recon has found a niche where it's device works. You don't want to be looking down at a screen while running and cycling and so Jet keeps you connected without distracting you from the action. Plus Recon has a ton of experience with connecting athletes using a heads-up display. It's previous device, the Snow2, is an incredibly popular wearable for snowboarders and skiers on the slopes. These guys get sports and have built a device that athletes want.
Best Gesture Control Tech: Myo
Myo is a gesture control armband which lets you use your hands to control the smart world around you. The armband uses both your arm movement and the kinetic effort in your arm as an input to control anything from flying a drone, driving a robot or moving back and forth through a PowerPoint presentation. The Myo App Store is a great place to find Myo-supported applications including apps from Sphero, Spotify and Netflix.
Why I picked it: Remotes are so 2000s! Gesture and voice are the future. I'm a huge fan of using Myo to fly drones and control my Sphero ball as it amps up the fun. And nothing will wow your audience more than see you magically wave your hand to control your next presentation. With Myo's app store in full swing, we are sure to continue to see some great use cases for this gesture tech in 2016.
Best Kids Wearable: Moff
Moff is a smart toy for kids which lets them bring sound to life with the wave of their hand. This is the slap bracelet re-imagined. The bracelet has a motion sensor which detects the movement of the child's hand and uses this to make a sound happen via the Moff app. Kids can choose from an ever-growing library of sounds such as swords, wands and even instruments and then move about to make them come alive.
Why I picked it: It's tough to get kids from staring at their tablet or smartphone these days. I love that Moff gets kids off the couch to engage in physical play but still lets them do this by using the devices they want to use. Moff is a simple, and relatively affordable wearable toy which kids immediately understand how to use. And recently Moff partnered with PBS Kids which means that kids can now use the Moff band with the Moff and PBS Kids app to play games like a swinging their hands to break open a virtual pinata.
Best Pet Wearable: WonderWoof
WonderWoof is a cute little bowtie that you clip on to your dog's collar to track its fitness and location. The bowtie comes in six fun colors and it will not only make your dog the most stylish pup at the dog park. It will also encourage you to take him or her out for a walk by showing you stats. In the WonderWoof app you can see your dogs activity over time as well as the number of "bones" your dog has achieved in hitting certain fitness goals. Plus the app doubles as a way to set up puppy playdates, set vet reminders and will notify you when your dog is out of range.
Why I picked it: WonderWoof is hands down the cutest pet fitness tracker out there so if you just got one to dress your dog up for the holidays I wouldn't blame you. But a fitness tracker for your pup is an effective way to give your dog a voice! Often times we come home from a long day of work and let our dog out to pee assuming they get exercise naturally. WonderWoof quantifies how much activity your pet is getting so that you have the information you need to make sure your fur-baby stays fit and healthy.
Mattel View-Master VR - this Kids AR/VR system is cheap and delightful and teaches kids about Cities, Wildlife or Space. Plus the adults can use it as a great retro Cardboard alternative
Hexoskin - this Canadian smart shirt company was the first to hit retail and is still the only company to offer mens, womens and kids options plus a winter shirt style to not just keep you connected but also keep you warm
Pivothead - the camera-integrated Durango glasses can shoot 1080p HD video and audio and 8MP still images all hands free plus keep the sun out of your eyes
Fitbit - although still pretty pricey IMHO what Fitbit has going for them beyond its variety of devices and styles is its community. If you are buying for someone who wants to compete and share their movement with friends and family this is the brand of activity tracker to consider
Think a wearable I don't have on the list should be here? Add it to the comments below! Happy Holidays everyone!