Wearables in 2014: how did tech's new suit fit?

Smart watches: wearables' main battleground

So 2014, we were told by anyone with a Tumblr and a passing interest in tech, was going to be the year of the wearable. Technology hanging from some part of our bodies, sensing, syncing and liaising with phones, laptops and cloud services would be more ubiquitous than Will.i.am - who needless to say, now has his own line of wearables pending.

In truth, it hasn't been that breakthrough annus, it's been more like 12 months of phoney war, where wearables have gathered their forces and gone mainstream in certain areas (fitness and, er, well fitness), with specialists such as Withings and Fitbit plus big boys including Google, Motorola, Asus, Sony and Samsung, all launching able and compelling, if compromised, devices.

But we say this with confidence: with Apple set to dive in, the "steady" growth in Android Wear apps, high fashion and high street brands looking for a slice of the wearable cake, 2015 will REALLY be the year of the wearable.

Here's how 2014 set that up…


CES 2014 was all a-twitter about wearable tech with companies big and small raising their wearables flag and saluting. Gaming PC chaps Razer announced the Nabu fitness band, which finally went on sale in December.

Pebble grew up a bit with their "Steel" smartwatch which would pair as well with a suit as a free gaming T-shirt. The approach the firm has taken, forging an early path for smart watches, sticking to e-ink to give longer battery life, and remaining OS agnostic, is laudable. Although quite why they let their "Brand Evangelist" go over this less than contentious or revealing interview is beyond us...

MetaWatch (formed from ex-Fossil engineers and a Vertu designer) showed off their premium smartwatch, Garmin its Vivofit fitness tracker and LG its Lifeband Touch.

In focus: wearables in vogue

Intel announced it would be mostly up a tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G the fashion industry. Specifically, with a raft of partnerships starting with menswear store Barney's and finishing the year with MICA – 'my intelligent communication accessory' – an haute couture bracelet in snake skin and pearls with social networking, SMS and email notifications.

This year saw fashion make semi-serious forays into the wearables market - or was it the other way around? New York-based fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg made some really quite pleasing versions of Google Glass, with Oakley and Ray-Ban also taking Google's bitcoins. Ex-Gap and Coach executive Ivy Ross joined the search giants in May to make their tech more fashionable. That's a work in progress – we'll return to this in June.

Market leader Fitbit partnered with designer Tory Burch to encase their Flex tracker into an allegedly lady-pleasing bracelet. We weren't knocked out by the results, but they sold out and can now be found on eBay at inflated prices, so what do we know?


Virgin Atlantic trial a meet 'n' greet with First Class passengers using Google Glass, presumably putting info up about each passenger such as "Owns house in Worcester" and "Notoriously picky about how his peanuts are served." Or maybe it was just constantly putting messages in the air crew's eyeline such as, "Keep smiling or you're fired!" and "Be more obsequious!"

We may never know.

HTC join the fray, planning a wearable device by Christmas (we're still waiting for that one). The creepy Narrative Clip is launched, a wearable brooch-like device which takes pictures every 30 seconds.


Google launches its watch OS Android Wear with the handsome Moto 360 smartwatch. Intel acquires San Francisco start Basis Science. They specialise in health tracking services and devices, natch. Because, for all the chatter about wearables' limitless possibilities, you have to say that most of the actual "things" released so far are fitness and health trackers.

Panasonic launch a wearable 4K camcorder that looks like it was designed by Tomy and manufactured by ten-year-olds. But hey! Wearables is a broad church. Come one, come all. That's what we say. At least it's not a fitness tracker.

In focus: Facebook bets (a bit of) the house on VR

On March 25 fresh-faced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg publishes an open letter on his wee site to announce the purchase of Oculus VR, makers of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset – the deal is inked in for an astonishing $2bn in July. Formerly a successful startup focussing on virtual reality gaming, Zuckerberg intends to, "Make Oculus a platform for many other experiences."

But while we should expect Oculus some time next summer, Sony's commitment to VR appears to be stuttering with their "Project Morpheus" PS4 headset still a way away. At a December press event, PlayStation Europe boss Jim Ryan describes it as, "Still an R&D project." Samsung then surprise everyone by being first to the market in December with their Gear VR. Hey, in the eatables game, if you snooze, you lose…