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When you think about wearables, smartwatches probably spring to mind. But soon, you'll be able to sport tech from head to toe.
The newest entries in the wearable device market place an emphasis on fashion and functionality. Intel is an early leader in this trend, teaming up with TAG Heuer and Fossil to introduce stylish smartwatches and bracelets that can pass as regular pieces of arm candy. But there are more than just new smartwatches hitting the marketplace this year.
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With the advent of digitally-connected textiles, sensors will soon be everywhere. The fashion industry is anticipating the fall arrival of the first-ever smart jeans from Levi's and Google, made from conductive fabric that can connect to the Internet and make phone calls. Samsung is also expanding its presence in the wearable device market with the launch of its Smart Suit.
Soon, we might not be able to tell who is wearing the latest wearable technology. Smart glasses have been slow to catch on, but eventually they'll blend in with regular eyeglasses. Smart thermostat maker Nest is expected to launch a new version of Google Glass after a major design overhaul. The developer version of Microsoft's Hololens headset will go on sale this year, providing developers the first shot at this buzzed-about augmented reality tool. Virtual reality with Oculus Rift is already out, and the use cases for such devices will continue to expand in the future.
The latest wearable technology trend also extends to ears. Hearables -- wireless computing earpieces -- will be able to provide new biometric data for users. And Microsoft is developing a hearable called Clip that will work with its digital assistant, Cortana.
Mind-reading tech, which measures brain waves, will come to the wearable device market in 2016 as well. Interaxon, Thync and other companies will lead this charge. And one of the coolest wearable technologies to keep an eye on in 2016 is tattoos made from connected ink, which can measure sweat and various other health readings.
As quickly as smartwatches and other wearables burst onto the scene, they came with only a small subset of capabilities. Wearables that are already in the marketplace will have some new and improved features this year. The Samsung Gear 2 will be able to sync with an Apple iOS device, and the next version of the Apple Watch is expected to be able to rely less on being paired with an iPhone. Even basic fitness trackers by Fitbit and Garmin will provide coaching and expanded metrics.
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