Think wearables are all just step counters and smartphone notification givers? Well, to an extent you're correct. However, a new wave is coming, promising to do everything from improving your mental well-being to helping you get smashed in a more elegant way. Hailing from Kickstarter, Indiegogo and enterprising startups, this is the new breed.
Olive for instance. Most smartbands are only concerned with your physical health, but what about your mental health? Olive monitors your stress levels by reading changes in your heart rate and skin temperature, and learns about your lifestyle by syncing to your calendar and tracking your location. When it senses that you're starting to stress out, it'll buzz at you and suggest a suitably calming activity. Swipe one way to get right into some breathing exercises, swipe the other way to keep smashing up the place.
$169 (£111), Olive
POC Volvo bicycle helmet
Volvo has vowed to outlaw road deaths involving its cars by 2020. Now it's teaming with helmet maker POC and Ericsson to save cyclists in the meantime. This stylish helmet alerts car drivers to the cyclist wearing it, with proximity alerts being beamed to drivers when a cyclist is nearby, along with a warning on a heads-up display. The cyclist, conversely, is warned of nearby cars via a light on the helmet. The wearer has to share their location using an app, with the data then shared with drivers through the Volvo cloud.
£TBC, POC Sports
This watch strap turns any timepiece into a smartwatch. Thanks to its replaceable adaptors, it can be fitted to any watch with lug ends between 18 and 24mm wide. The brains are in the strap, so you can see how many steps you've taken, distance travelled and calories burned by glancing at the screen. And if the battery dies, you can still tell the time, just like in olden times.
$199 (£131), Kairos T-Band
Smartphones, for all their smarts, often need a little nap in the late afternoon. Charging them on the go can be a pain... unless you happen to have a belt packing a 2,100mAh battery. It promises to be weather resistant, and hardwearing enough to take all the thrills and spills that come with wearing trousers. When not in use, the charging cable sticks to the inside of the belt strap using magnets, and it's slim enough not to cause an unsightly bulge. Also coming soon (probably): battery hat, battery shoes, battery gilet.
$125 (£82), Xoo Belt
A fitness band with a twist, Uno is designed to help you read faster, using a new reading compression technology called Spritz. Instead of displaying a message with broken lines of text on the tiny screen, it shows one word at a time and whizzes through them. It's surprisingly easy to pick up, and lets you understand the message without having to scroll. Very clever. It does all the usual smart band gubbins too - showing emails, incoming calls, texts, alerts, and tracks your (in)activity with Apple Health and Google Fit.
$129 (£85), Uno Noteband
Some people just don't get on with your classic chest-bound heart-rate monitor. Ampstrip is different, it sticks to you like a plaster, so you won't notice it while you're pumping iron or pounding the treadmill. It claims to not only track your heart rate, but auto-detects your current activity, exercise load, skin temperature and posture, syncing to an app to save and analyse all your data. It's waterproof too. When we spoke to the guys behind this at CES, they were only really talking about it in terms of being an HR monitor, but evidently they've now decided to get on the activity-tracker bandwagon too.
$149.95 (£99), FitLinxx
Bad habits can be hard to kick, but Pavlok takes no prisoners - it gives you an electric shock every time you break a resolution. Trying to give up smoking? Want to get up earlier and stop being lazy? Well, every time you fail, Pavlok will administer some sweet jolty justice. A friend or partner can keep track of your progress, and administer shocks when you fail and rewards – like prizes or money – when you succeed. You'd be surprised how quickly you get out of bed when there's a taser-enabled maniac in charge.
$149 (£98), Pavlok
Not all wearables are about fitness tracking and calorie counting. The ambitious VEST project aims to help the deaf hear again, by communicating sound to the brain using the sensation of touch. The idea is that you can learn to associate certain sensations with certain objects, words or ideas. It's not new – it's been used to help blind people negotiate an obstacle course, for example. And it could have repercussions far beyond the physically impaired. We could one day walk around feeling nudges in our chest that update us on Twitter, the stock market, the weather forecast, and more. Land Rover's already taking a similar tack with its car seats, in fact…
£TBC, Eagleman Lab
Wireless running headphones are nothing new, but they're still wired together. Not Freewavz though, they're individually wireless so you never get them caught - you could even wear one solo if you wanted to. The survived some rugged headbanging without falling out, which makes them already superior to most and the pulse oximeter and accelerometers track your performance whilst the headphones give you audio updates on your heart-rate, calories burned, distance run and all that jazz.
£147 ($220), Freewavz
The Drinking Jacket
And finally, in every sense, one for the gentleman boozehound. On this coat, the zip doubles as a bottle opener, there's a pocket that keeps your beverage cool and fold-out mitts that not only keep your hands warm while sipping, but have grips to help you hold your bottle or can more firmly – a must for sufferers of "the shakes". Oh, and there's a holder for your sunglasses. A better name would really be "The alcoholic's hoody," but admittedly that's lacking a certain pizzazz. Who are we to quibble, anyway? It can be yours for less than a Benjamin, and it raised over half a million dollars on Kickstarter.
$85 (£56), The Drinking Jacket
Weight loss is just as much about your eating habits as your exercise program. The BitBite earpiece tracks what you scoff as long as you say it aloud before you shovel it down. It also monitors how long you chew, what time you eat and where you eat to build a complete picture of your dietary habits. Then it gives you advice on how to improve them. Stuff like "Morning fatman, if you touch that cheesecake I'm going to break your legs" but more polite.
$119 (£78), BitBite
Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.