This week, team Wareable descended on Berlin, and we weren't in town for the currywurst. We were there to see new wearables and smart home kit at IFA, and thankfully, there was plenty to talk about at this year's show.
We got new smartwatches, more fashionable hybrids, feature-packed fitness trackers, while augmented reality made its presence felt as well. It's more than what we could've hoped for and proved once again that wearable tech is maturing.
The big boys come out to play
There's only one company we can start with and that's Samsung, which treated us to not one, but three new sporty wearables. First up was the Samsung Gear Sport, the company's next generation smartwatch that shrinks back down to Gear S2 size and rivals the Apple Watch and Fitbit Ionic with a waterproof design and swim tracking. The Sport was joined by the Gear Fit2 Pro, the fitness tracker and smartwatch hybrid that matches the Sport's swim tracking skills and we saw the return of the Gear IconX, Samsung's smart earbuds. The 2018 edition packs a slimmer, more compact design, heart rate monitoring and a new running coach mode.
From Samsung's big press conference to huddling inside a booth on the show floor, Garmin also had a trio of wearables to show off. The Garmin Vivoactive 3 was unveiled as the sporty smartwatch successor to the Vivoactive HR brandishing a new look and introducing Garmin Pay for mobile payments. Meanwhile VivosmartHR+ fans got the Vivosport that packs built-in GPS and sports tracking modes inside a fitness tracker body. Last but by no means least was the Vivomove HR, a stylish hybrid smartwatch that features a discreet touchscreen display and was one of our show favourites.
Fossils out in full force
Fossil is showing no signs of slowing up on expanding its collection of hybrid smartwatches and has promised to deliver 300 different wearables before the end of the year. We can look forward to a whole host of more fashionable Android Wear smartwatches and there were some beauts on show at IFA. We got to spend time with the Fossil Q Venture, Emporio Armani Connected and the Misfit Command, but our favs were definitely the pretty Michael Kors Access Sofie and the Diesel On Full Guard.
A smart speaker invasion
Look what you've done, Amazon. Smart assistants are now popping up in TVs and even home appliances but Echo-style speakers are still proving the most popular way to get them into your home. Sony launched a smart speaker with Google Assistant and Harman Kardon hedged its bets by unveiling speakers that work with Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana. With Apple's Siri-powered HomePod speaker set to launch in December, the fight for voice assistant supremacy just got interesting and whole lot more congested.
May the AR force be with you
If there was a wearable winner of IFA 2017, then it would be Lenovo's Mirage headset and its collection of Jedi Challenges AR games. Our executive editor James left us all feeling very envious that he was the one that got to wield a lightsaber and fight it out with Kylo Ren. It's launching in October and timed to coincide with the next Star Wars film. We're already counting down the days...
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