JACQUARD!!!! That's the sound of the rest of the Wareable team playfully mocking me whenever I discover something new about Google and Levi's Commuter Jacket, which we now know is launching later this year. They say I'm obsessed with the smart jacket for cyclists, but I do believe this is going to be big news in 2017.
I mean, I don't cycle and apart from a couple of cherished Levi's denim jackets, it's not even my favourite fashion label. What I'm really hoping is that this can really kickstart the smart clothing takeoff. Although our new US reporter Husain has a slightly different perspective and believes smart clothing needs to improve us not just offer shortcuts, I think there's room for both. I'm also not sure I can take more chat about a year being the 'year of smart clothing'. We've waited long enough. Just make it happen.
It's no real surprise that the big Jacquard announcement was made at SXSW a place that is fast becoming a hotbed of the weird, wacky and innovative in the wearable tech realms. Some is just plain old mad (check out the video of our buddy Tom Emrich trying out the Sony Motion Sonic wristband, it's brilliant), but there's plenty of great stuff coming out of the show including Visa's payment sunglasses and some surprisingly interesting sleep concepts from Panasonic. Hey, it's not just about the music and the movies.
Mont Blanc launched the Summit, its first Android Wear smartwatch
Now if you were to ask our resident Android Wear fanboy Paul Lamkin what the biggest news of the week was, then he'd most likely say Tag's big smartwatch launch. Our Editor in Chief was the lucky one to fly out to Switzerland and witness the truly wonderful and entertaining Tag CEO Mr Biver in action up close. He also got to eat cheese while the rest of the team watched the brilliance on the live stream in the office.
There was a watch as well, the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45, another luxury edition to the Wear family. It's packed to the rafters with features, and it still looks good. I'm intrigued to get my hands on it when one lands in the office (Hugh also had a look at one in SF) although I'm not sure the same can be said about the other big luxury Wear smartwatch this week that Paul had to get his lounge suit out for. Montblanc decided to join the Android Wear party as well by unveiling the Summit (See what they did there?). A Montblanc smartwatch sounds like a great idea, but after reading Paul's first impressions, I'm not sure they made the most of the opportunity.
The best features on Wareable this week
- Best running wearables for real time coachingThe most advanced virtual training partners tried and tested
- Wearable payments go beyond the wristThis is exactly what contactless payments needs to really take off
- Training with Tim Peake in VR at the Science MuseumPut your helmet on
- Beacon wants to light up your smart homeWill you let this be the light in your life?
- Mike's food tracking diary - It's you, not meIt's over. Boy am I so glad it's over
I'm going to stick with smartwatches because I want to talk about smartwatches for women. There's not a lot of them basically and there should be. That's why it was disappointing to hear first of all that Tag was launching a smaller 39.5mm Android Wear watch, but not until later this year. Then Swarovski dropped a bombshell by indefinitely delaying its first Android Wear watch. It's a double blow and a real shame that neither is likely to be on show at Baselworld.
Speaking of the glamorous watch fair, another Swiss watchmaker decided it was going to enter the smartwatch race. Swatch, the same Swatch whose CEO called the Apple Watch an interesting toy, confirmed it was going to launch its own operating system alongside a full fat Tissot smartwatch. Some people might think it's too late for Swatch to join the party, but I argued that it can still make something great.
I'm going to sign off with the story courtesy of the analyst folks at CCS Insight who forecast that 75% of wearables that will be sold in 2021 will be smartwatches and smartbands. Judging by the barrage of announcements this week and with more to come next week, we'd like to think that smartwatches are actually doing pretty, pretty good right now.