Swatch may Bring a Smartwatch to Market in August

Swatch logoSwatch, the Swiss watch maker best known for its colorful and untraditional designs, is looking to enter the smartwatch market. It’s still unclear as to what exactly Swatch is planning. But at a recent company meeting, Swatch CEO Nick Hayak stated that Swatch’s smartwatch will be launching in two countries within the next three months.

2015 is definitely shaping up to be the year of the smartwatch. And while tech companies like Apple, Motorola and Pebble have all made headlines this year in the smartwatch space, it seems few established watchmakers have entered the fray. Given its history as a known and trusted brand in watchmaking, could Swatch bring a new perspective to the field?

Little is known yet about Swatch’s proposed smartwatch. Will Swatch develop a proprietary OS? Will the company implement some version of the Android operating system? During that company meeting, Hayak said that Swatch will launch its smartwatch in two countries. The first will be Switzerland and the other was only described as a “large country.” It seems logical that this other country would be the United States. But Swatch has made deals with China UnionPay, a Chinese financial firm, and it’s likely that the Swatch smartwatch will ship with a near field communication chip that could allow the device to make mobile payments. Given the prevalence of the Apple Watch and Android Wearables in the U.S., perhaps Swatch’s second launch country will be China instead.

Despite its rapid growth in recent months, the smartwatch space is still fairly new and much is likely to change. If Swatch is able to bring a product to consumers that’s unique and reasonably priced, the watchmaker might just find a whole new market to tap into.

Special Needs Customers Can Make Apple Watch Demo Appointments

Apple LogoApple has made a point of adding accessibility features to its products for years. Everything from the Mac to iOS devices has user-enabled controls and configurations for things like voice-to-text, alteration of the screen thru focused zooming in and more. And while it seems like the company’s new Apple Watch wouldn’t necessarily be that useful for customers with visual or other kinds of impairments, Apple wants to prove that misconception wrong right out of the gate. That’s why users with special needs can make appointments to test out an Apple Watch, with specific guidance from an Apple Store employee that can demonstrate all of the watch’s accessibility options.

Customers who are interested in making one of these appointments can do so thru the Apple website, the Apple Store iOS app or by calling 1-800-692-7753. When making an appointment, it’s a good idea to note that you’re a disabled user and you’d like to try out the Apple Watch’s accessibility features. This way, the store can have an iPhone preloaded with the full Watch OS and paired with an Apple Watch ready when you arrive. (Apple Stores don’t normally have their watches fully set up like this for customers who just walk in off the street, that’s why it’s important to make an appointment in advance.)

Anytime you’re going to purchase a new item (especially something that can be pricey like an Apple Watch), it’s a good idea to try it out and really see if its right for you before handing over the credit card. It’s great that Apple is continuing its commitment to disabled users by allowing them to make these special appointments. Hopefully, the Apple Watch will prove to be a true asset to those who are in need of assistive technology.

WatchPlate will Gold Plate your Apple Watch

WatchPlateDeserved or otherwise, the prevailing perception of the new Apple Watch is that it’s an accessory for rich people. It’s unclear at this point if Apple sees this as an asset or a liability. Regardless, now that the Apple Watch is officially on the market, all kinds of third party accessories and services are jumping in to fill the needs of Apple Watch owners. And while the third-party Apple Watch market may never reach the kind of saturation point that’s happened for iPhone accessories, this market is still likely to generate some real profits. The latest example of that is WatchPlate, a new service that will add gold plating to any Apple Watch.

WatchPlate works by placing an order thru the company’s website. From there, you’ll receive an e-mail with a prepaid FedEx shipping label. Take your Apple Watch to any authorized FedEx drop-off point and it’ll be whisked away to WatchPlate where it’ll undergo the gold plating process. The company estimates that your Apple Watch will be back in your hands (and on your wrist) within three business days of when its received by WatchPlate.

WatchPlate charges a $399.00 flat fee for gold plating an Apple Watch, a watch band or both. Shipping is free anywhere in the world. The plating can be done in either yellow or rose gold and WatchPlate states that it uses only 24 karat gold in the process. WatchPlate also recommends that users regularly clean and maintain their gold plated watches to ensure longevity of the plating. If needed, the company will re-plate a watch for a flat fee of $199.00.

There are a couple of things to be aware of before placing a WatchPlate order. Gold plating is only possible on stainless steel models of the Apple Watch, which excludes the Sport edition. And when it comes to potentially voiding an Apple Watch warranty, WatchPlate says:

It is possible. The process involves dipping the watch in about 3 inches of fluid for about 20 minutes total. This is much easier on the watch than Apple’s recommended maximum of 3 ft submersion for 30 minutes. That being said, because this is a new service, we don’t know how Apple’s warrantee policies could change regarding gold plating.

If you’re concerned about your watch breaking during its warranty period and it’d be difficult for you to buy another one out of pocket, you may want to proceed with caution when it comes to gold plating the device. If that’s not a concern, and you can stand to be without your shiny new watch for a few days, head on over to WatchPlate and make that new accessory truly stand out.

Child Angel Keeps an Eye on Children

British Inventors Project

Continuing GNC’s coverage of the Gadget Show Live and the British Inventors’ Project, Child Angel is one of the smallest and most advanced child tracking device on the market. Made to be attractive to the child and easy to use in an emergency, the Child Angel wrist-mounted tracker provides accurate location monitoring by combining GPS, GSM and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation.

Child Angel keeps children safe in three ways. First the parent can view the child’s location on a map using the Child Angel app on their smartphone or tablet (both iOS and Android). Second, the child can send a “Help Me!” alert by taking off the bracelet and third, an alert is raised if the child leaves a geo-fenced SafeZone.

The battery life is about 48 hours and the Child Angel can easily be recharged through the micro-USB. The Child Angel bracelet is available in different colours and can be customised with personalised covers, too.

The Child Angel should be available soon with a retail cost around £100.

Child Angel

Is the Apple Watch Edition Worth the $10K Investment?

The Apple Waapple watch editiontch launch day is rapidly approaching. While Apple’s entire smartwatch lineup is impressive, the most spectacular offering is the gold Apple Watch Edition. Ever since the initial announcement back in September, Apple fans worldwide have been speculating about one thing— how much will this luxury smartwatch cost? With a real gold frame and speciality gold-accented bands, we all knew the Edition was going to cost a fortune, and now we know the exact cost: a base price of $10,000, with the most expensive watch/band combination rounding out the lineup at a whopping $17,000.

While it’s safe to predict that the majority of Apple’s watch sales will come from the basic $349 Sport version and to a lesser extent the $549 stainless steel version, there will inevitably be a small percentage of society’s elite who will snag an Edition without hesitation. While most of us aren’t uber-famous socialites with millions to blow, there is something to be said about the value of investing in a precious heirloom watch that can be passed down through the generations. While at first glance the idea of spending $10,000 or more on a luxury Rolex may sound crazy, at least a Rolex will retain— and possibly increase— it’s value over time. With a battery replacement and/or tune-up every few years, that expensive Rolex will work just as well 10 years later as it did when it was first purchased, making it a worthwhile investment for those willing to take the plunge.

Even though they have the $10K price tag in common, there is a fundamental difference between a Rolex and an Apple Watch Edition. The Apple Watch is not merely a designer watch, it’s technology product, and the technology scene is constantly changing. Like an smartphone or tablet, a smartwatch is doomed by design to become outdated after a few years, meaning that those who want to enjoy the latest and greatest features have no choice but to upgrade or be left in the dust. It’s difficult for the average person to comprehend dishing out $10K for a watch that will only remain relevant for a year or two– you could buy 3 years’ worth of Apple Watch Sports for that price!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you boycott the entire Apple Watch lineup. The good thing about Apple’s watch strategy is that the specs and features are virtually identical across all versions of the Apple Watch. No matter which version you get, you’ll be able to enjoy health monitoring, GPS, Siri, dictation, heartbeat-sending, texting, and everything else the Apple Watch has to offer. Yes, the Edition looks nicer, but for a third of the price you can get all the same features in the $349 Sport version.

The bottom line is, unless you’re drowning in piles of money, the Apple Watch Edition simply isn’t worth the $10K price tag. You’re much better off buying the Sport or stainless steel version and saving hundreds of dollars than paying a fortune for the same thing plus a few ounces of gold.

This Week in Watch News

screen shot 2014-11-19 at 2.02.18 pm

There are two major leaders in the smart watch world these days, and one hasn’t even released its product yet. Apple and Pebble both are in the news this week, getting everyone all excited about what’s to come in wearables.

Pebble launched a new Kickstarter this week to raise funds for its latest smart watch. One with color e-paper, longer battery life, and new timeline interface. They were able to raise $8 million in a few hours. Their new watch will be thinner and include a microphone for responding to messages or taking memos.

In the other corner, Apple’s Tim Cook, in an interview with the Telegraph, has dropped some more product info about what to expect from the Apple Watch.

In addition to getting all your messages and notifications, and being a pretty nice fashion accessory, the Apple Watch will be replacing your car key-fob, and have a lot of focus on health.

Cook said the watch will “tap” the wearer at intervals throughout the day to remind them to get up and go for a walk. It will also feature an incentive program to exercise. Rewards will be given as the user hits metabolic targets.

Apple’s watch event is scheduled for March 9 and the watch is expected to be available for purchase in April.

XOEye Brings Wearable Solutions To Industry At CES

xoeye logo

Training and assisting employees tends to take up a significant amount of a company’s time and resources, especially in industries such as engineering and manufacturing. But thanks to the innovations that XOEye is bringing to the table, the workplace is about to become much more efficient.

Jamie and Nick interviewed John Calahan from XOEye, a software company that’s working to bring augmented reality solutions to the workplace. XOEye works with wearable and other smart technology companies to create custom solutions to allow employers to train, manage, and support their employees.

For example, if a new employee at a manufacturing plant is having trouble mastering a certain technique, they could connect with a more experienced engineer via smart glasses equipped with XOEye technology to walk them through the process. The flexibility and power of XOEye’s innovations are creating endless possibilities for growth and improvement across the industrial space.

To learn more about XOEye, visit their website.

Interview by Jamie Davis of Health Tech Weekly and Nick DiMeo of F5 Live.

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Gymwatch Measures Strength And Motion At CES

Gymwatch

Exercise is great, but knowing the specifics about your workout performance and progress can make your fitness regime even more successful.

Don got to talk with Fabian Walke, CEO of Gymwatch, about his company’s product. The Gymwatch is a fitness tracking wristband that monitors your workout performance, tracks your progress over time, and much more.

Gymwatch connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet so you can monitor your progress on the companion app. One of the coolest features of the Gymwatch is that it senses when you’re doing an exercise wrong and shows you via the app how to do it correctly. With over 900 weight-lifting and strength-training exercises and weekly software updates, Gymwatch will help you achieve your fitness goals in no time.

Gymwatch is available now on the Gymwatch website or Amazon for $199.

Interview by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor.

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Kiband Keeps Families Close At CES

Kiband logo

There’s a fine line between keeping a close eye on your kids and being an “overprotective” parent. Kids want to go out and have fun, and parents want to make sure they’re safe. What are families to do when those two well-meaning viewpoints collide? With Kiband, they don’t have to.

Nick got to talk with Jeff from Kiband at CES. Kiband is a smartband for kids that connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to a parent’s smartphone to prevent getting lost. Parents just use the accompanying smartphone app to designate a range in which they can monitor their child’s whereabouts. When the child nears the boundaries of this range, their band will vibrate, and the parent will be alerted. Kiband gives kids the freedom they crave and parents the peace of mind they need.

Kiband will cost between $100-$120 and is available for preorder on Kiband’s website for delivery in June or July.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology

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Vievu Brings Wearable Cameras to CES

Vievu logoCameras are everywhere these days. And that includes (in some cases) on the human body. As the need for accurate reporting and accountability increase, so does the demand for lightweight and wearable cameras. That’s where Vievu excels. The company manufactures cameras specifically designed to be worn by people or mounted onto cars/equipment.

Scott met with Steve Lovell from Vievu. Steve demonstrated one of his company’s flagship products; a small, lightweight camera that can be mounted almost anywhere. Vievu cameras can be connected to either smartphones (via the Vievu app), laptops or IP networks. These cameras have been on the market since June of 2014 and their price range begins at $349.00. Vievu cameras can capture both audio and video in resolutions of either 1080p, 720p or 360. Cameras come with 16gb of internal storage and they can record for about 2.5 hours or stream for about 90 minutes before needing a recharge.

Interview by Scott of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology for the TechPodcast Network.

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