At Mobile World Congress, smartphones clearly take center stage. The show covers a variety of consumer tech categories, but it was severely lacking in the wearables department for the second year in a row. Still, we found some interesting gadgets while walking the show floor.
From a smartwatch with a flexible display that can double as a smartphone to new virtual and mixed reality headsets, here are seven of the most interesting wearables we spotted in Barcelona.
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Nubia showed off a “wearable smartphone” at MWC, the Nubia Alpha. It features a flexible OLED display, stainless steel case, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 2100 chipset. While you can opt for the Bluetooth model, the more impressive version includes eSIM technology. That means you can use it as your primary smartphone with the ability to make phone calls and video calls, send text messages, and make contactless payments. Interesting, but a tad clunky for those with smaller wrists, like yours truly.
Microsoft HoloLens 2
Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 updates the AR headset with a more comfortable feel and wider view. With no controller required, you can use your hands to navigate the virtual objects around you. As for its build, the second-gen headset has two 2K displays (one for each eye), an 8MP camera, five mics, dual speakers, and runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 850 platform.
At $ 3,500, the device isn’t designed for the everyday consumer but for professionals in the field—from performing medical procedures to engine repairs. In a hands on with the device, PCMag’s Sascha Segan said he’s a “little jaded” about new tech, but HoloLens 2 “genuinely blew my mind.”
MyKronoz ZeRound 3
MyKronoz launched a few new wearables at MWC, but its flagship smartwatch is the ZeRound 3—and it comes at an affordable price of $ 99. The 44mm case (which comes in either silver or black) features an AMOLED display, along with a microphone and speaker for phone calls and voice commands. It’s also supposed to last anywhere between three to five days on a single charge.
The WindelSensor is a wearable that measures humidity in diapers. Created for both babies and the elderly, it can help to prevent bladder infections and diaper rashes by monitoring moisture and temperature via a connected app. A reusable sensor clips on to the outside of any diaper and the app then continuously monitors whether the diaper is dry, wet, or needs to be changed. Since it’s connected via Bluetooth, there is no harmful radiation transmitted.
In the US, it’s known as the OPRO9 SmartDiaper, but German-based company CuraLuna adopted the technology, further developed the sensor and app, and plans to release its device in the US in the future.
HTC Vive Focus Plus
The HTC Vive Focus Plus is the company’s second-generation standalone virtual reality headset. While it still has the same Qualcomm 835 mobile VR processor found in its predecessor, the Focus Plus now features two 6DOF (degrees of freedom) motion controllers, which come with a trackpad, two triggers, and two face buttons that track movement and position using ultrasonic sound. The first-generation Vive Focus only included one 3DOF motion controller, with a smaller trackpad and one trigger.
Like Microsoft and the HoloLens, HTC is targeting those in the medical field, as well as engineers and designers rather than the typical consumer.
Mainly known for its line of children’s wearables, Xplora ventures outside its typical demographic with the new Xplora Go. It’s a module with a smartwatch display similar to the company’s existing watches, but can be worn as a smartwatch by popping it into wristband accessories.
The Go can make calls, send text messages, set alarms, count steps, and comes with a camera as well as an SOS button. But it can also track items like handbags, bikes, or pets. You’ll receive an alert via the new Xplora app when whatever it’s attached to is out of a geofenced area you set. The elderly can use it to set reminders to take medication or use the SOS button to notify family members of a fall or any other emergency. Children can also wear it to stay in touch with parents whenever they’re out.
The BioBeat Watch looks like a basic smartwatch on the outside, but is actually a medical monitor assistant complete with a proprietary optical PPG sensor. The watch can continuously monitor vitals like blood pressure, heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac index. While the BioBeat Watch itself is not FDA-approved, BioBeat has received FDA clearance on some of the vitals it measures.
On the display, the button navigates you through four different screens that showcase your metrics. You’ll see information such as saturation, skin temperature, vascular resistance, and pulse pressure. All of the vitals recorded on the watch sync with the BioBeat connected app (and to the cloud) for caretakers to easily keep track of on a daily basis. Having access to this information also provides patients with the alternative of being treated at home instead of in the hospital.
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