Wareable 50 six months on: Checking in with 2017's gamechangers

How do the team's tech predictions look halfway through the year?
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We hate to say we told you so but...

At the end of last year we published our third annual Wareable 50 list of gamechangers for the next 12 months. Here's our six month check-in to see how right, wrong or downright loony our past selves were being when we compiled the 2017 list. Overall we give ourselves a solid B+.

We've divvied up the top ten into 'changing the game' and 'nearly... but not quite' as we expect the second half of '17 to crank up the pace of launches.

Also check out our rundown of some choice picks from the rest of the list. Anything we've missed or judged unfairly? Let us know in the comments.

Changing that game

Hearables (1)


Well, let's rephrase this - Apple's AirPods have done very well. By January the wireless earbuds, which you can argue are and are not a true connected hearable, were selling well - no exact figures from Apple- and by May demand was outstripping supply.

Elsewhere, we were hyping Doppler Labs' Here Ones, which we found largely delivered in our review, but Bragi is back too with its Dash Pro plus Pilot, Sony and Mymanu all have exciting hearables in development. We haven't seen much in the way of other new sports earbuds so expect more on that in the second half of 2017.

Rise of the designer hybrids (3)


We namechecked the Misfit Phase and Skagen Hagen Connected in our Wareable 50 entry for designer hybrids, and at Baselworld Fossil Group didn't disappoint with hybrids from Marc Jacobs, DKNY, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Fossil, Skagen, Emporio Armani, Diesel and more.

These were joined by new hybrid efforts, alongside Android Wear watches from Hugo Boss, Movado and Tommy Hilfiger plus the new Alpina Comptesse Horological. With all Michael Kors mens' watches becoming smart by the end of 2017, soon it'll be tricky to find a wristwatch that's not connected.

Stress busting wearables (5)


Stress as the metric du jour for wearables hadn't gone away. The new Garmin Vivosmart 3 presents you with a stress score each day, based on heart rate variability tracking, and offers guided breathing to get you back into a calm state.

The tech has even made its way into smart clothing thanks to the Vitali smart bra which houses sensors measuring breathing rate, posture and HRV in order to identify stressful moments in your day. When it comes to actually helping you chill out, look out for our upcoming review of the Thync Relax Pro too.

Android Wear 2.0 (8)


When it comes to big launches in 2017, it really has been all about Android Wear 2.0 watches. Not only is the OS a big improvement, in both form and function, but we now have many more styles, sizes and feature sets to choose from - new releases include the do it all LG Watch Sport, the affordable ZTE Quartz and the luxe Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45. Most of Fossil Group's slate is scheduled for September to December so that's when you'll see the designer 2.0 stuff launch.

The only slight snag is how long some owners of existing smartwatches - Asus ZenWatch 2, for instance - have had to wait for the upgrade. This is the perennial problem and the worst case is probably the fact the Sony SmartWatch 3 isn't getting the update at all.

Alexa everywhere (9)


Not only is Alexa everywhere but she has new rivals who are also... everywhere. The race is for Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri & HomePod, Microsoft's Cortana and Google's Assistant & Home to lock down partnerships, apps, skills and devices. Now, Samsung's Bixby is getting its own smart home speaker too.

We'll have a much clearer picture by early next year as to how HomePod does (it doesn't go on sale till December) and whether Amazon can stay on top in the world of voice controlled homes.

Nearly... but not quite

Mixed reality (2)


Mixed reality as a term isn't actually so hot - it feels like everyone's gone back to calling it AR - but the tech is everywhere: Apple, Facebook, Google and Snap have all been showing off amazing demos of what they can do with augmented reality. All on the phone for now but glasses are expected from all four to compete with the Microsoft HoloLens.

We're still waiting for Magic Leap but all the signs suggest a release is still happening so we're sticking to our prediction that the mysterious tech will finally launch in 2017. Maybe 31 December.

Fitbit's true smartwatch (4)


This is the definition of "but not quite". Not only is Fitbit's first proper smartwatch delayed but all the rumours coming out so far suggest we should gear ourselves up for a Blaze-style device with an app store that's not going to wow.

Still, we'll wait to see and test the Fitbit smartwatch for ourselves before passing a real judgement. If James Park and co get this right, they could really rival the Apple Watch in sales.

Google Daydream (6)


Google's mobile VR platform has provided a steady drip of news this year, including plenty of experiences and exclusives, though not quite the onslaught of compatible headsets and phones we expected. Still, there's plenty to be stoked about, probably most of all the unnamed HTC Vive Daydream headset.

All we know is that it will be standalone - so no phone or PC required - and feature inside-out tracking based on Project Tango tech from Google. No price yet other than a tease that the price will be in the mid-hundred dollars and to expect it later in 2017.

Project Jacquard (7)


Another launch that's not due till "late 2017", this one will be worth the wait. Jacquard's first smart clothing item is the Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket that lets urban cyclists get haptic directions, control music and phone calls from the smart tag sleeve.

It'll cost $350 which could be viewed as steep, but hey, this is the first of its kind. But the potential of Jacquard's conductive yarns and interactive clothing goes far beyond this one jacket - designers can use haptics, LEDs and other outputs. High time for some more partner announcements, we say.

Return of smartglasses (10)


This could be counted as a success depending on how you frame it. Snap had sold 90,000 pairs of Spectacles by early May, despite being limited to vending machines for months. And the cheap and cheerful camera glasses have now made their way to London and Paris - we picked up a pair in Shoreditch.

So it could be argued that Spectacles are the first breakthrough pair of smartglasses. But we think that will be reserved for the first great pair of AR glasses which we're still waiting for. These could come from Snap or - see mixed reality above - more likely Apple, Google or Facebook.


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