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This Is Who Is Winning In Wearable Tech In 2017

November 13, 2017 3:20 PM
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This Is Who Is Winning In Wearable Tech In 2017

You might have seen the headlines about the unsold Snap Spectacles lying in warehouses or startups like Doppler Labs biting the dust without a big tech company swooping in to save them.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. It was the second Wareable Tech Awards, in association with Currys PC World, this week - we chose 15 Award winners, with the help of a panel of expert judges and hopefully by the end of it, everyone's excitement was restored.

The theme of the evening was very much that no matter where the innovation is coming from, it will rise to the top. Our Award winners were a mixture of household tech names, representatives from the fashion and watch industry companies and smaller, pluckier startups. Unlike phones or TVs or laptops, wearable tech and VR and AR is still evolving which to be honest, makes it all the more interesting to cover.

Firstly, some big sellers took home big awards. The biggest prize of Wearable of the Year went to the Fitbit Alta HR, which also picked up the Fitness Tracker of the Year Award. This unassuming activity and sleep tracker gets almost everything right and packs a lot of lifestyle features - including heart rate - into a slim form factor with lots of choice when it comes to customising bands.

The Alta HR isn't the most attention grabbing Fitbit product that launched this year (that would be its Ionic smartwatch) but like the Apple Watch Series 3, which took home Smartwatch of the Year, it blends stylish design with genuinely useful health conscious features.

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It might be an obvious choice but Apple is building the smartwatch to beat - everyone is still figuring out how useful LTE is - perhaps music streaming will be its main use case - but don't forget that Apple has also made plenty of tweaks to watchOS 4 this year too.

Not quite enough, though, to take Sports Watch of the Year, which went to the Garmin Forerunner 935 over some of the more sports smartwatch options. We're sure both Apple and Fitbit will sell a ton of smartwatches this winter to amateur runners, swimmers and cyclists but the fitness experts on our team can't stop gushing about the 935, which packs top class features into a comfortable watch.

There were a couple of surprises too, one of which was Garmin also picking up the Award for Hybrid Watch of the Year for the Vivomove HR. Hybrids could do really well for shortlisted brands like Skagen, Kate Spade and Frederique Constant but Garmin's display that disappears into the watch face when not in use won us over. Fossil Group did snag Fashion Tech of the Year, though, for its whole range of fashion hybrids and designer Android Wear watches from Fossil, Diesel, Emporio Armani and Michael Kors.

The other upset was Bragi beating Samsung to Hearable of the Year. It really feels like smart earbuds are the next hardware battleground after the wrist and this was a close one. But while we're fans of the polish and stamina of the Gear IconX 2018 buds, the Bragi Dash Pro won the Award for the scale of its ambition packing heart rate, gesture controls, real time translation and now Alexa into its completely wireless earbuds.

Over in VR and AR, we gave Apple ARKit a Highly Commended nod but our winners were the Vive Tracker for VR/AR Innovation and the mainstream PSVR horror game Resident Evil 7 VR for VR/AR Experience of the Year. The Vive Tracker can be attached to objects - your shoes, say, a baseball bat, a Logitech keyboard, even a pinata - and it's a cool way for developers to bring the real world into virtual reality.

Finally, a quick shoutout to our Startup of the Year, Circadia, a sleep tech company that uses sleep data to feed into a circadian rhythm lamp and actually help you, the posture trainer Upright Go, which won Health and Wellbeing of the Year, our Fitness Platform of the Year Strava and the smart sign language glove Re-Voice BrightSign which is our Saves The Day Project winner.

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