24 Jan Weekly Wearables Roundup: Bixby, SNYPR, EZ-Link, RunIQ, PIQ

1. Samsung Galaxy’s AI Powered Digital Assistant

Samsung is lining up to debut its highly anticipated powerful assistant along with the upcoming Galaxy smartphone series. This digital assistant named Bixby is expected to be more powerful than Apple iPhone’s Siri. Samsung’s AI-powered digital assistant for both the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8, will be more than capable enough of giving Siri a run for its money. You can actually access the assistant with the feature and dedicated “Bixby” button on the smartphone itself. The main feature to boast of Bixby is its capability of searching for items based on what the user points the camera at. Bixby is also reportedly to be closely tied to Samsung Pay to facilitate mobile payments.

Bixby is reported to have the most powerful visual feature that could set it apart from the other mobile assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and even Google Assistant.  An in-camera button will enable Bixby to identify individual objects while also processing text spotted within the frame of the camera. With such an astonishing feature, thanks to its ‘high degree of interconnectedness’ with other applications, Bixby will not only help users find an item online but also facilitate a purchase. The support for optical character recognition could also enable Bixby to act as a digital scanner using a mobile device. Just point the camera at some words or texts and the assistant will be able to scan it right away into a digital format. There are plenty of standalone apps that have similar functionality like that on Bixby, but having this built into your smartphone camera could be particularly very convenient.

At this point of time, Samsung is still busy developing the software for Bixby along with the Galaxy S8 as well as the Galaxy Note 8, and right until launch decisions can be made to add or remove previously rumored features from the phone. While we still know little about Samsung’s Bixby, the assistant is the product of the acquisition of the company and Viv, the AI startup founded by the creator of Siri. Samsung plans to integrate the A.I. platform into the Galaxy smartphones and expand voice-assistant services to home appliances and wearable technology devices

2. SNYPR Launches New Version Of Lacrosse Wall Ball App, Partners With Under Armour

Sports wearable technology startup SNYPR launched a new version of its connected wall ball app at the U.S. Lacrosse Convention this weekend in Baltimore. SNYPR kicked off the unveil by powering Under Armour’s Wall Ball Challenge, a way for players both on-site and across the country to compete to see who could record the highest number of reps, with the top wall ballers receiving prizes from Under Armour. Having downloading SNYPR on iOS or Android, players sign in with the Wall Ball Challenge team code and attach their smartphone to the right arm via an Under Armour shin guard sleeve. Players could then follow a leaderboard inside the app and on site that tracked their reps in real-time. With the new version of the app, coaches can now also look at their team’s performance in private as well.

SNYPR1

Doug Appleton, CEO and co-founder, along with his team started SNYPR eighteen months ago. Appleton and his team think that the future of sports training is in the wearable tech arena. SNYPR was originally created as a hardware company that created a sensor for players to embed in sticks. However, over time, the thinking evolved to creating an experienced geared around an app versus selling a piece of hardware. Last summer, SNYPR launched the inaugural version of the app with U.S. Lacrosse as part of a Wall Ball Challenge program. For every throw, players’ sponsors donated one cent to the program to assist kids in need who couldn’t afford lacrosse equipment.

Appleton said that the next evolution of SNYPR is potentially moving the practice experience off the smartphone and upper arm onto another part of the body. Seeing how it has impacted young players and motivated them to play more has really been the driving force for product development.

3. Commuters can soon pay for bus and train rides with a tap of the wrist

Aimed at enhancing the contactless payment experience and encouraging active lifestyles, EZ-Link Pte Ltd, Singapore’s largest issuer of CEPAS compliant cards, announced the launch of EZ-Link Wearables, a new product line featuring smart, stylish wearables offering ez-link payment functions and a new array of lifestyle options. Launched in collaboration with Watchdata Technologies and Garmin, the ez-link CEPAS purse will be enabled on the Batman v Superman Fitness Tracker X EZ-Link and the Garmin vivosmart HR with EZ-Link smartwatch, for fast, convenient and reliable contactless payments on public transit and at more than 30,000 ez-link acceptance points country-wide.

ez-link-wearables

Batman v Superman Fitness Tracker X EZ-Link, developed by EZ-Link and Watchdata Technologies, combines both the functionalities of a smart fitness band and an ez-link card. Besides using it to tap and pay for trains, buses, taxis and shopping, users can also pair it with the Watchdata Wearables mobile application via Bluetooth to monitor the number of steps taken, amount of calories burnt and sleep quality. The device will be available exclusively on My EZ-Link Online Shop at S$42.80 inclusive of GST.

The Garmin vivosmart HR with EZ-Link brings together the full-bodied features of this fitness tracker with the convenience of paying for your train and bus rides, all in one device. It also has heart-rate monitor for fitness enthusiasts who want to make sure that they are exercising in the optimal heart-rate zone. The Garmin vivosmart HR with EZ-Link will be available at major retailers in Singapore from end March 2017 at S$259.

Such contactless payments use the wireless Near Field Communication technology to transmit data between the wearable device and a contactless payment reader.  Other NFC-based e-wallet services such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay cannot be used for transit payments. There are also a limited number of NFC smartphones that can work with the NFC SIM cards, sold here since early last year, to allow commuters to tap their phones to pay for transit rides.  While offering support for contactless payments, these EZ-Link devices remain smart health and fitness devices that monitor and record daily activities to support a healthy lifestyle.

4. New Balance’s debutant wearables

New Balance Athletics, Inc., an American multinational corporation, has announced its debut smart wearable from the Digital Sport Division named RunIQ. A “Made To Run” smartwatch built in collaboration with leading digital, hardware and software companies, including Intel, Google, and Strava, was launched at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.  With the launch of RunIQ, New Balance also debuted PaceIQ, bluetooth wireless sport headphones, with sound by Jabra – the provider of premium sound solutions for sports enthusiasts. RunIQ delivers the perfect combination of the best running features in a stylish accessory that you can wear all day.

new-balance-runiq-paceiq

Specifically designed for runners by runners, RunIQ helps athletes focus on their performance, engineered with Intel Inside® featuring a built-in GPS, heart rate monitor, lap button, interval capability, and marathon distance battery life to help you get the most out of your run. In collaboration with Strava, RunIQ allows runners to seamlessly upload and share workouts with their global community of athletes.  A built-in GPS allows for course tracking, pace and distance measurement while the heart rate feature monitors in real time.  With up to 24 hours of battery life with typical use or up to 5 hours of continuous life with GPS and heart rate monitoring, runners can track their marathon event. Runners can sync, store and listen to Google Play™ Music from an Android phone and stay connected to smartphone notifications for on-the-go replies when connected to Wifi or Bluetooth. RunIQ is also waterproof up to 5 ATM.

Fully integrated with RunIQ, the PaceIQ are lightweight wireless sports headphones that offer premium sound quality, a secure fit and a rapid charge capability. They allow the user to run free of wires and features a dedicated Sports Button that provides real-time audio in-ear RunIQ performance updates to help enhance training effectiveness. The PaceIQ also enable easy remote control access for both music and calls. When used with the New Balance RUNIQ, the PaceIQ is an easy-to-use training partner.

Available for pre-order at newbalance.ca, RunIQ will launch at retail around of $399.99 on February 1st.  RunIQ will be available at launch in black with chargers also available. PaceIQ will be available at retail February 1st at a price of $129.99 and include 3 sets of EarGels, 1 FitClip and a USB cable.

5. Life on slopes is going digital with wearables

Skis Rossignol S.A, French manufacturer of alpine, snowboard, and Nordic equipment, has developed a wearable that takes the guesswork out of your trip down the mountain. It’s a small, lightweight sensor that straps to your ski boot and records air time, speed, rotations and carving angles so that you can keep track of your progress and compare yourself to others. The wearable device named PIQ measures the number of runs, turns, jumps, vertical drops and syncs to a smartphone app that highlights strengths and areas to work on. After each session, you can use the app to find out whether you made the leader­board for your country, state or home mountain. Then, you can share your best carving with your friends — or put them to shame.

piq-rossignol

The next step is fully connected skis and helmets, and they’re coming, too. Already, Madshus has embedded a tiny radio-frequency tag in its skis to relay the unique properties of each ski to prospective owners. It also tracks performance on the trail, relaying basic info like distance, duration, speed and temperature to the Madshus empower app. As a next step, how about a ski with embedded tracking technology to help locate lost skis in deep show

Connected goggles are starting to catch on, too. For many multiples of what regular ski goggles cost you can buy the smart Oakley Airwave with a heads-up display that keeps track of friends on the trail. Skiers can view phone calls, text messages and control music from the viewfinder. Oakley’s goggles also integrate with GoPro’s cameras, so you can view a recording of your ski session in your viewfinder if that doesn’t make you too dizzy to think about.

Speaking of GoPro, its flagship fast-motion camera, the Hero5, captures stunning 4K video and uploads it easily to the GoPro cloud. Rugged, waterproof and sporting a 2-inch touchscreen, this little camera is great for ski buffs — whether you’re a trying to capture your child’s first great run down the slope or recording your own backcountry shenanigans.

The fenix 3 smartwatch by Garmin certainly isn’t cheap, but it packs so many features into its rugged frame that the cost is hardly unreasonable for your average skier. I couldn’t find a watch anywhere that tracked more sports than the fenix — not just skiing, but also cycling, running, snowboarding, golf and more. Not only does it feature the best aspects of a smartwatch, it boasts a new wrist-based heart monitor so that you don’t have to wear a chest strap for heart-health metrics. Battery life is great — 16 hours with GPS on, to two weeks in smartwatch mode. Also use it as an altimeter, barometer and electronic compass.

Technology has definitely made skiing safer, with better avalanche-proof airbag backpacks and several smart helmets under development or looking for funding from investors.