At SXSW, Startups Show Off Their Wearable Tech
Kiwi Move via Youtube
The Kiwi Move device is one of many finalists in the SXSW Accelerator competition, which gives tech startups a chance to pitch their innovations.
David R. Rico/Demotix/Corbis
This week, our tech slideshow is all about the Mobile World Congress, the consumer electronics show that takes place in Barcelona each year. Innovative smartphones, wearable computers and Internet-connected cars are among some of the technologies that were on display. Here are some of our favorites.
The Mirama smart glasses, fromJapan-based Brilliant Service
, have a gesture recognition system combined with augmented reality technology. The wearer uses her hands to interact with virtual objects seen in the glasses. Brilliant service wants their smart glasses to one day replace for smartphones.
For its unique aluminum unibody design, the HTC ONE was awarded this year's "Smartphone of the Year."
Walldorf, Germany-based SAP is working with the German national football team to prepare for the World Cup in 2014, and take soccer to the next level. The ball has embedded sensors and electronics that capture and analyze a wealth of data in real time, including spatial analysis of player movements.
Blackphone is the world's first smartphone that places security back into the hands of the user. The $629 phone, which comes unlocked, was developed in a partnership between Silent Circle and Geeksphone. Along with the PrivatOS, built on Android, the phone comes with a suite of Silent Circle apps, including Silent Phone, Silent Text and Silent Contacts; anonymous search, private browsing and VPN from Disconnect. SpiderOak provides a secure cloud file storage and the Blackphone ships with a remote-wipe and device recovery tool.
JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images
LG was on hand to promote its new G Flex, which has a 6.0” curved OLED screen, that while not flexible, does have a shape that fits well into the palm of a hand. The big screen provides an impressive panoramic view, while minimizing glare.
LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images
Samsung's Galaxy Fit was among many wearable fitness devices on display at the Mobile World Congress. The Fit has a thin, curved shape meant to follow the wrist; the user navigates menus by swiping horizontally. Along with a heart monitor, the Fit is designed to provide notifications for calls, e-mail and text message. A personal fitness coaching app is an option.
One of the most surprising announcements at the Mobile World Congress came from Mozilla, who plans to launch seven new devices using Firefox OS, including a smartphone -- the ZTE Open C -- priced at $25. The devices are being aimed at people in developing countries.
Joan Cros Garcia/Demotix/Corbis
Chinese company Gionee presented its Elife 5.5, the world's thinnest smartphone. At 5.5 millimeters thick, the phone edges out the 5.75mm Vivo X3. For comparison, the iPhone 5s is 7.6mm thick.
Joan Cros Garcia/Demotix/Corbis
The new Xperia Z2 phone and tablet from Sony are waterproof, come with brighter screens and noise-canceling earbuds.
Joan Cros Garcia/Demotix/Corbis
Sony's SmartBand SWR10 is also waterproof, which makes sense if you plan to sweat while wearing them.
Practically speaking, cars are becoming gadgets. Ford was among several automakers displaying their versions of fully connected Internet cars. These cars work in conjunction with a person's smartphone or work like a smartphone to run apps that connect to the Internet, play music and movies, display GPS navigation and control security features at home, among many other features.
The event was part of the SXSW Accelerator competition, which gives tech startups a chance to pitch their products here to an audience of technology experts, members of the media and venture capitalists. The competition will conclude on Sunday, when a winner is selected from among the eight finalists within the wearable technologies category, and five other categories.
Up first was the Toronto-based company Bionym, which is developing the "Nymi," a wristband that the company says will use the wearer's unique cardiac rhythm to confirm identity, in lieu of a password or pin number. [10 Best Apps and Gadgets From SXSW]
"Identity is hard," the presenter said, but "what if you could make identity easy?" Just like a fingerprint, your heartbeat is always with you.
The Nymi costs $79 to preorder, and will retail for $99. Bionym has already received thousands of preorders, according to the company.
Next, San Francisco-based Fashion Discovery Labs presented an app that could allow Google Glass wearers to take a picture of someone's clothing and instantly shop for the item online. The app will use image recognition to find similar items, and fashion stylists will pick the three best matches for the user to choose among. The user will then have the option to buy the item directly, search nearby stores or save it for future reference.
"How cool is that?" the presenter said. Of course, as one of the competition's judges pointed out, it does mean taking photos of strangers across the room.
Next onstage was Jon Lou, a lifestyle brand that touts itself as "MIT engineering meets Italian design." The Staten Island-based startup is developing a fashionable handbag that could charge your phone or tablet, and light up inside when opened. Playfully named the "314" (the first three digits of pi), the handbag uses "MIT fuel cell technology," and could charge a phone 14 times before the battery needs to be replaced.
But for all its utility, the high-tech handbag comes with a hefty price. With a potential price of $1,592, the judges wanted to know why a woman would buy this bag instead of a better-known brand such as Stella McCartney.
Last up, another Toronto startup, Kiwi Wearable Technologies, presented the "Kiwi Move," an all-purpose tracking device that the company says will contain motion sensors, temperature and air pressure sensors, a microphone and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. Developed by two people at a technology "hackathon," the device is now available for preorder for $125.
The startups are competing with four other wearable tech startups, and finalists will be asked to return Sunday for a final round of judging. Winners will be announced at the end of Sunday.
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