W|W: The Wearable Weekly – virtual reality gets real

Welcome to The Wearable Weekly, your trusted guide to all things wearable tech. If you only have time to read one thing about wearables this week, this is it.
 
 
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Industry Highlights

The biggest news this week was definitely Oculus’ announcement that the consumer Rift will start shipping Q1 of 2016. Facebook-owned Oculus has supported developer versions of its virtual reality headset since its Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 and the consumer version has long been anticipated. Along with announcing the launch timeframe, Oculus also published pictures of the upcoming consumer device and suggested it would be making some additional announcements on both the hardware and software leading up to E3, the gaming industry’s largest trade show.

VR continued to gobble up the wearable headlines this week with an out-of-this-world concept video showing the theme park of the future. Utah-startup The Void is working on a project that uses VR head-mounted displays, haptic vests, sensor-equipped gloves and physical “Game Pods” able to simulate environments to take the theme park experience to a whole new level. The company plans to roll-out Virtual Entertainment Centers in 2016 starting in Utah.

Apple Watch bands were at the centre of much discussion this week both for function and personal style. Apple released guidelines for third-party bands, while a startup, Reserve Strap, identified a hidden diagnostics port inside the strap area on the Apple Watch to be used for faster and more efficient charging.


Statistics & Forecasts

58.4% of Men’s Health survey respondents said they would want to try a smartwatch while 36.5% said they already have one (AdWeek)

By 2020, smart clothing shipments will surpass 10.2 million units annually, while body sensor shipments will reach 3.1 million units annually according to Tractica (BusinessWire)

77% of respondents believe that wearables can boost efficiency and productivity at work says PwC study (TechRadar)

Fitbit sold 10.9 million bands in 2014, more than double what it sold in 2013 (MobileSyrup)

SNS Research estimates that by 2016, wearable device shipments will surpass 140 Million and will account for nearly $30 Billion in revenue. The market is further expected to grow at a CAGR of 30% over the next five years (PR Newswire)

31% of insurance companies are already using wearable technology to engage customers, and two-thirds expect broad adoption of the technology within two years says Accenture (InsuranceNetworking)


Device Announcements

Oculus announced the consumer Rift virtual reality headset will ship in Q1 of 2016 and provided the first look of the device (MobileSyrup)

Timex Ironman Move x20 and Ironman Run x20 GPS fitness trackers launched in India (NDTV Gadgets)

Swatch announced it’s working on a “revolutionary” battery for smartwatches that lasts six months (Engadget)

NXP and Qualcomm have joined forces to integrate NFC into Snapdragon processors for Android Wear (TechRadar)


Funding, Crowdfunding and M&A

Fitbit is filing an initial public offering to raise $100 million (MobileSyrup)

FeelReel, a VR mask and headset aiming to simulate smells and senses, launched its Kickstarter campaign (Kickstarter)

Linkitz, a modular, programmable wearable toy to teach girls how to code, launched its Kickstarter campaign (Kickstarter)


Major Milestones

Manulife rolls out rewards program using wearable fitness data (Globe and Mail)

Apple detailed its guidelines for accessories for Apple Watch (MobileSyrup)

Reserve Strap announced it will use the hidden diagnostics port inside the band area on Apple Watch to provide faster charging (9to5Mac)

Google released open source game example “Games in Motion” to inspire developers to build games with Android Fit and Android Wear (9to5Google)

Sensoria smart socks now available for sale in select markets (CNET)

Apple was granted a design patent by the USPTO for its Apple Watch (GeekyGadgets)

Pebble update confirms mass-product of Pebble Time, on time to ship to backers in May (MobileSyrup)

Fiksu adds Apple Watch analytics product (TechCrunch)


Rumours

Wearables that will “blow your socks off” and possibly Google Glass 2.0 expected to be announced at Google I/O this year (Ubergizmo)

New patent hints at curved glass display for next Google Glass (Quartz)

Microsoft Hololens will cost significantly more than a typical video game console (Forbes)


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Tom Emrich

Tom Emrich

Sometimes called the “man from the future” Tom Emrich is a leading voice in wearable technology as an investor, community builder and influencer. His passion for this space is driven by his belief that wearable tech plays a critical role in our human evolution.