#​Trending: Secondhand smart tech

How adding smart tech to dumb devices is taking off
#​Trending: Secondhand smart tech

While the big tech manufacturers grapple with the problem of how to make smart gadgets that people will love as much as their beloved dumb old analogue ones, a new trend of reverse engineering is bubbling under the surface.

The idea is simple: instead of buying a new device, you can add the features you want to your existing ones. Take watches for example; instead of dumping that Bremont family heirloom in favour of an LG Watch Urbane, why not stick the smart bits underneath? The same goes for fitness tracking – instead of wearing an extra band full of sensors to track your steps, you can add those sensors underneath your existing watch/clothes/shoes.

Essential reading: Most stylish wearables

How this is implemented varies greatly. Some manufacturers are choosing to add tech to watch straps, but as sensors and batteries reduce in size, new options such as the Intel Curie offer new ideas, where smart tech can be reduced to the footprint of a coin.

But will the trend of creating secondhand smart tech catch on?

In some cases, it certainly makes sense. Fitness tracking is an obvious area which can be absorbed into existing technology rather than dedicated devices. Analogue devices such as the Nevo, Withings Activité and Mondaine Helvetica No.1 Smart are already sporting fitness tracking features, and are some of our favourite devices here at Wareable.

Smart clothing is also in its infancy and it would make sense that sensors can either be moved between garments, rather than force users to wear the same pair of pants every day. It's a new approach to wearables, and one that for many is preferable to buying a whole new device.

We've picked out three devices that aim to retrospectively add smart tech to non-smart devices, and rated their potential.

WEAR - Montblanc e-Strap

While Tag Heuer is working on its own smartwatch, Montblanc has taken a different approach. The Swiss heurological giant's smart-strap packs a 0.9-inch monochrome OLED touchscreen with a 128 x 36 resolution, which sits on the underside of the wrist. It's thinner than the competition's and the standard fitting means you don't have to own a Montblanc for it to work. Kudos, Montblanc.

SQUARE - Kairos T-Band

Another smartstrap, we had the pleasure of testing it out at Baselworld 2015, the Kairos T-Band is enormous. A veritable medieval arm iron, the version we saw was made from vibrant blue dots that only show a few letters at a time, making reading your SMS messages an almost comic procedure. The OD version promises a OLED colour screen, but unless the band dramatically reduces in size, the Kairos looks like a miss to us.

NEARLY THERE - MetaWear Coin

A coin sized array of smart sensors, the MetaWear Coin is designed to be programmed for a number of applications. It boast a small ARM processor, 16GB RAM, 256KB of flash memory, Bluetooth Low Energy, and an accelerometer and a temperature sensor. Thin enough to partner most analogue watches, it's a fantastic way to add fitness tracking smarts any device.


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