50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

The tech, themes and trends you'll be talking about next year
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We like to think we know a few things about what's hot - and what's not - in the world of wearable tech.

As is custom for the Wareable 50, we are making 50 bold predictions about what will happen in the wearable tech and connected self in 2018.

Read this: Our 50 wearable tech predictions for 2017

Yes, anyone can make predictions, but we have previous form in getting most (not all) things right. This time last year we said that hearables, augmented reality, hybrid smartwatches and Fitbit's first smartwatch would be talking points in 2017. So what's in store for the year ahead?

The Wareable 50 2018 edition picks out the people, products, companies, startups and trends that are set to have a big 12 months. The list has been fiercely debated in both US and UK Wareable HQs and now we've decided on the finalists - including the number one thing we think everyone's going to be talking about next year.

So take a look, and let us know in the comments section below if you think we're on the money, wide off the mark, or you just want to compliment us on our fine list-making skills. Enjoy.

50. Amazon's smartglasses

Rumor has it that Amazon is ready to take the plunge into wearables, and is expected to unveil a pair of smartglasses that will house its Alexa voice assistant. The glasses will reportedly use bone-conduction audio through the frame, meaning there's no need for earbuds, while the glasses will look just like a regular pair of specs. No AR here.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

49. Swimming tech steps up

Swimming has been a bigger focus for wearable makers in 2017 and we're expecting that to ramp up in the new year. We're talking better analysis and accuracy, but also new ways to track those pool sessions. Smart goggles would be top of our list, and South Korean company Zwim, which launches its own pair next year, looks like a promising start.

48. Sony Xperia Ear Open

Sony's concept hearable has slowly inched toward life over the past couple of years, making steady progress. The best part? We've actually used it. The Ear Open offers fuller sound than Apple's AirPods and allows you to listen to music and the real world at the same time. Sony is also developing a host of smart features for it, including real-time translation, AI assistance and the ability to automatically adjust volume.

47. MIT

There's a reason the Massachusetts Institute of Tech has an untouchable reputation within the wearable tech realm. It seems like every week some bright mind from MIT is showing off a cool new wearable idea or technology that could propel us to the future. From ingestibles to body temperature wearables to temporary smart tattoos, everything's happening at MIT and in 2018 we could see ideas become spin-offs become products.

46. Under Armour's next smart running shoe

After promising to go big on fitness tech, UA decided to step away from making hardware in 2017, but its connected ambitions will linger on inside its next running shoe. Set to pack its latest HOVR cushioning tech, the upcoming fancy footwear will also include some of the smarts that featured inside of its Speedform Gemini connected running shoes.

45. Microsoft and Casio team up

An unlikely partnership here, Microsoft has struck up a licensing deal to share its wearable patents with Casio. What that means exactly, we do not know, but we're ready to speculate. A more health fitness-focused Casio smartwatch? Maybe it'll get into hybrids? We don't think we'll have to wait too long to find out.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

44. Smart patches

One of the most difficult parts of creating a wearable device is miniaturising technology down far enough to fit on your wrist. That's not a problem for smart patches, which offer much more space to build advanced technology, and companies like Qualcomm, Samsung and E Ink are now playing in this space. With the big names involved, it's only a matter of time before these start becoming the health monitoring norm.

43. Sony Three Hands Square

Forget the SmartWatch 4, Sony is busy gauging interest in a subtle smart strap and mechanical watch combo. Sound familiar? Sony revived its Wena watch this summer with the Three Hands Square only released in Japan - it does activity tracking, NFC payments and alerts. Our money is on a worldwide release in 2018.

42. Women's Safety X Prize

Wearables are about so much more than smartwatches and fitness trackers, and the Women's Safety X Prize is about recognizing how these devices can be used to protect women against violence and harassment. In November 2017, the X Prize announced 21 entrants that will be competing to make the most impactful women's safety wearable, with a winner to be chosen by June 2018.

41. Cycling tech FTW

In the wearable and connected tech realms, running has unsurprisingly benefited most, and it's time for cycling to get some love too. Whether it's AR smartglasses like Raptor's, tech to keep you safe on the road or improved cycling support on smartwatches, 2018 is the year for the two wheelers.

40. Jawbone Health Hub

Jawbone is dead, but from its ashes rises Jawbone Health Hub, a new company from the same employees. Instead of a focus on devices, Health Hub will focus on health services that plan on doing ambitious things like curbing diabetes and hypertension and better linking you to pharmaceutical services. It's all very mysterious, but the big launch is slated for next year.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

39. Pimax VR

Virtual reality has never been better, but there's still a long way to go, specifically in the field of view and the dreaded "screen door effect." Pimax is looking to fix both problems with its new 8K headset, which has a whopping 200-degree FoV. In our hands-on time with the Pimax we were suitably impressed, and others will no doubt feel the same way once it arrives in 2018.

38. Fitbit Ionic Adidas Edition

Fitbit announced its collaboration with Adidas in 2017, but is keeping us waiting until next year to own it. What can you expect? Well, much of the same in terms of looks, but there will also be some unique workout programs and watch faces to make this Ionic feel like a more interesting proposition.

37. Self-powered watches

Matrix Industries, Swings, LunaR. Startups proved that there is a solution to keeping you away from that charger whether that's solar power or body heat. So now we know it can be done, it's time for bigger, higher profile names to step up and get our hybrids and smartwatches running for much longer.

36. Embr Wave

What if you didn't need a jacket every time you felt cold in the office, or a fan when you wanted to cool down? That's what the Embr Wave is setting out to do in 2018, having raised money from crowdfunding for its device which can heat or cool your wrist - and your whole body. When it lands it could start a wave of new, body tweaking comfort features we'd never thought we'd see.

35. Vive Arts

As Vive continues to show us that VR is not just for gamers, its program to advance the creation and appreciation of the arts is set to grow. It's already worked with the Royal Academy of Arts, the Tate Modern and institutions around the world. We fully expect more high-profile collaborations to push the creative VR movement forward in 2018.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

34. LifeBeam

LifeBeam raised a cool $1.7 million in crowdfunding for its Vi headphones a couple of years ago. In practice, the company has delivered with a fitness coach with real personality, top-notch heart rate data and tremendous potential. There is room for improvement in areas like voice recognition but if LifeBeam can smooth that out in 2018 then the hearable space has a new champion.

33. WEAR Sustain startups

There's only one thing better than a wearable, and that's a sustainable wearable that's environmental and people friendly. WEAR Sustain is a fund that's awarded €2.4 million to startups focused on a core mission of sustainable wearables that not only look good, but do cool things. Still young, the fund has already become a major driver of futuristic smart clothing and jewellery projects. The second batch is due to be unveiled in early 2018.

32. VR eye tracking

Virtual reality isn't going to truly reach the "reality" stage until it's able to imitate everything about us, and eye-tracking will be key to that. In fact we've already seen it in action from Tobii and 7invensun, the latter of which has an add-on for the HTC Vive, and in 2018 we expect to see it showing up in more headsets. Not only will it make social VR come alive, it will have other practical uses too, like foveated rendering.

31. Tag Heuer Connected Modular for women

Tag's cheese-loving CEO Jean-Claude Biver let it out of the bag that the Swiss watchmaker was going to launch a smartwatch for women. The smaller 39mm watch was expected to launch before the end of 2017 but it looks like 2018 may be when we see the smaller modular Tag smartwatch land.

30. Nuheara

Having lost Doppler Labs in 2017, we need another company to carry the augmented audio torch - and we think Nuheara will be the one. It's already shipped its impressive IQBuds, improving the smart earbuds with new features, and we fully expect more hardware and software changes to be on the way from this ambitious outfit.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

29. More Jacquard partners

Google and Levi's teamed up this year to bring us the smart Commuter Trucker jacket – aka Project Jacquard – turning a regular denim jacket into a connected piece of clothing. But Jacquard is a platform, and Google tells us it plans to reach further and partner with clothing brands beyond Levi's. If it makes good on its promise, the next twelve months could be a big one for smart clothing, with Jacquard leading the charge.

28. Ingestibles

The future of ingestibles is a bright one, with the potential for nanotechnology to help detect and fight cancer cells before they get going. That future is just around the corner. Doctors will not only be able to take your internal temperature via smart pills, they'll also be able to make sure your medication is being properly ingested – and working.

27. Swarovski Android Wear smartwatch

We expected Swarovski to add another female-friendly option for Android Wear fans in 2017, but it was indefinitely delayed. Swarovski told us it simply wasn't ready to launch yet, but we hope having a few more months to work on the project will see it officially roll out perhaps just in time to be shown off at Baselworld 2018.

26. Huami

2017 saw Chinese company Xiaomi rise up over Fitbit, Apple and Samsung to become the number one company worldwide for wearable sales – for a brief moment. Some credit goes to Huami, one of its sub-brands, creator of the Amazfit smartwatches and a company we expect to see more big things from in 2018 outside China.

25. Location VR

Thus far, the best VR experiences have been in the home. That's about to change big time in 2018, as companies like IMAX, The Void and Nomadic are looking to create unique VR experiences at special centers. Using props and 4D effects, these location-based VR experiences are so immersive that regular VR will feel lackluster by comparison. And when the content includes the likes of Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire at Disney, you know you've got our attention.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

24. Monisha Perkash

Lumo Bodytech sprung a big surprise on us with its Lumo Run wearable and in 2018 we are expecting more big things with CEO Perkash at the helm. As the company opens up its platform, we have the partnership with Puma on an AI coaching device to look out for and will hopefully continue to show the wearable world how real-time coaching should be done.

23. Circadia

Our Startup of the Year at this year's Wareable Tech Awards, Circadia will begin shipping its sleep tracking device and light therapy lamp, which goes beyond what your Fitbits can offer. It promises to not only monitor your snooze, but hopefully help you sleep better too.

22. Nokia

Now that the Finnish tech giant has finished rebadging all of Withings' wearables, the Nokia Steel HR included, it's time to see how it's going to make the most of the acquisition. There's still a lot more to unlock in its Health Mate platform and we have no doubt there'll be a whole new range of hybrid smartwatches and connected health devices to talk about as well.

21. Samsung Gear S4

Samsung skipped the Gear S4 this year, instead launching the Gear Sport and keeping the S3 as its flagship smartwatch. A two-year intermission now means we're expecting even greater things from the next Samsung smartwatch. Our wish list? A smaller design, better fitness tracking and a longer battery life would be nice, but we also want something that will really spice things up. No pressure, Samsung.

20. Translation gets better

This year saw the first round of hearables and wearables trying to make multi-language conversations easier. Some were good, some not so (ahem, Pixel Buds). But we still have Pilot's translation buds to look forward to, and we reckon Google will have another stab at the Babelfish too.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

19. Running with power

Cyclists will already be all clued up with power meters, but this performance metric is set to invade running too. Garmin has already launched its own running power app and with companies like Stryd leading the power crusade, it's another piece of data runners will be keeping a close eye on in 2018.

18. Hugo Barra

With Palmer Luckey gone, virtual reality is in desperate need of a hero – and Hugo Barra could be the one. The ex-Xiaomi exec is now leading up Facebook's virtual reality efforts and will have a huge role to play in 2018 as the company introduces new products and stakes out its place in the VR landscape. In our view the face of Oculus should not be Zuckerberg, but Barra.

17. Neuroscience

The brain has so much untapped potential, and wearable makers are taking up the challenge. From gadgets that use neurostimulation to relieve stress to those that do it to maximize athletic potential, we're seeing more and more wearables play with the brain. Is it safe? Does it even work? In 2018 these questions are going to need answering.

16. Smarter AirPods

AirPods are a huge hit, and while they aren't pure hearables yet, we've seen from patents that Apple has big plans for its little earphones. One of those changes could be better Siri and real-time translation, as Siri gained translation powers in iOS 11. Apple has also looked into biometric sensors including heart rate, galvanic skin response and more.

15. Rebble

While some Pebble owners may have transitioned to the Fitbit Ionic, it doesn't make the loss of the smartwatch darling any easier to accept – and there's a community that won't let go. That's why they created an open-source project, named Rebble, to keep the platform alive from the beginning of 2018 and beyond. It's testament to the mark Pebble left, and it's amazing to think that there will be people setting out to develop for a platform that would otherwise be six feet underground.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

14. Women's health tech

Women's health is another area of wearable technology we expect to pick up pace through 2018. While Livia tackles period pains, Ava is using wearable tech to track women's fertility and increase their chances of getting pregnant – and thinks its tracker might eventually be able to detect pregnancy too. Expect more next year as new women lead companies hone in on women's health.

13. Vue smartglasses

While rumors of Amazon's smartglasses abound, startup Vue is gearing up to deliver its own answer, a pair of glasses with bone-conduction audio to let you listen to music and speak to Siri and Google Assistant without the need for earbuds. They also do a bit of basic activity tracking. If it works, Vue could be the one to break the smartglasses curse.

12. Magic Leap (finally)

We know, we know, we really thought it was going to happen this year, but really it's Magic Leap's's fault. Having said 2017 would be the big reveal, the world's most secretive company remains more enigmatic than the inside of Area 51. But we've heard a lot of rumblings that Leap really *is* preparing for a launch in 2018, and trademark filings suggest the headset will be called Magic Leap One. Call it what you want – just let us see the damn thing already.

11. Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

Garmin fans, we're finally getting a sports watch with built-in music playback. Details of the Forerunner 645 Music have leaked out, suggesting that the Vivoactive 3 lookalike will let you transfer music to the watch and offer offline support for music services as well. This could be one we see as soon as January.

10. Oculus: Phase 2

It's been a very good year for Oculus, which released a bunch of exclusive games, overhauled its interface, and cut the price of the headset significantly. In 2018 the company has announced it will put two new headsets in people's hands, Oculus Go (launching early 2018) and Oculus Santa Cruz, both of which are cutting the cord and going wireless. This will very much mark the second phase of Oculus as it tries to tempt more people from the real world into the virtual one. And we're all for it.

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

9. Vic Gundotra

Vic Gundotra is the CEO of AliveCor, which this year got its KardiaBand Apple Watch strap approved by the FDA. That's a big deal. The electorcardiogram reader, which is built into the strap, can detect abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation, giving it the potential to literally save lives. 2018 is going to be about putting this type of medical-grade tech into the hands (or around the wrists) of everyday people.

8. Swatch Swiss OS Tissot watch

Swatch is one of the biggest names in the watch world, yet thus far it's avoided jumping into the world of smartwatches. That changes next year, as the company confirmed its Tissot brand will launch the first watch powered by the new Swiss OS, which promises long battery life and "Swiss vault" data protection.

7. Fossil's smart ambitions

It started with watches, but now Fossil Group is preparing to turn even more fashion-friendly things smart. Next it's eyeing up hearables, handbags, jewellery and even eyewear. Skagen smart earbuds or Diesel smartglasses anyone? They could both happen next year.

6. Vive 2

Begun, the virtual reality wars have, but while the HTC Vive seemed to have the early lead, 2017 has seen Oculus overtake with no sign of slowing as we move into 2018. HTC has been making waves of its own with investments in startups, but it feels like 2018 will be the year for a more radical upgrade to the Vive. Whether that's a headset that's wireless out the box, or something else, remains to be seen. If nothing else, we'll finally get our hands on the Vive Focus, even if it's not running Google's Daydream.

5. Smarter assistants

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

This year has seen smart assistants finding their way into everything from smartwatches to earbuds, but here's the problem: *whisper voice* they're still a little bit stupid. In 2018 we expect Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri to step up their game and transition from being a cool demonstration of futuristic ideas to something genuinely useful.

4. Fitbit's 2018 offensive

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

If 2017 was the year of Fitbit's first smartwatch, 2018 looks set to be the year it revamps existing models and brings yet more smartwatches to the fold. We're expecting to see a Fitbit Charge 3 and Blaze 2, and a bigger push into health tracking with sleep apnea and atrial fibrillation heading the list of conditions Fitbit is ready to tackle.

3. Apple Watch Series 4

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

It's a no brainer to say that a new Apple Watch will land in 2018, but with all the evidence and analysts suggesting that the smartwatch is really starting to pick up traction with people who were sceptical of the smartphone companion, 2018 could be the Watch's biggest year yet. Question is, what's the Apple Watch Series 4 going to look like and what will it come packing? We think it's time for a design overhaul (maybe a round option?) plus the usual performance upgrades. But with the acquisition of Beddit this year, we could finally see proper sleep tracking included. Hopefully those sports tracking features will get even better too.

2. Serious health tracking

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

Until very recently, activity tracking has consisted of the same things: step count, calorie burn and maybe heart rate. But things are beginning to change as Silicon Valley looks to play the role of doctor, meaning tech that can gain a deeper understanding of our health. Apple has launched a study for atrial fibrillation using the Apple Watch's heart rate sensor and Fitbit believes it can accurately detect sleep apnea with its Ionic smartwatch. Expect wearables in 2018 to start having a more meaningful impact on our health and wellbeing.

1. Augmented Reality

50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

When we sat down to discuss what our number one entry in the Wareable 50 should be, augmented reality was on everyone's lips. AR is utterly convincing and it's here to stay; in 2018 the race to smartglasses is expected to heat up, and smartphone AR – we're talking Apple's ARKit, Android ARCore, Snapchat World Lenses and Facebook's AR ambitions – will serve as the catalyst.

Now don't expect to be wearing the perfect, svelte smartglasses by the end of next year. Apple's first pair is widely expected to arrive in 2020. Still, as we mentioned above, Magic Leap's time is absolutely now if it wants to get an edge, Snap has the tech in place to make a move and Google's enterprise Glass has been well received in all sorts of industries. AR is sure to be one of the biggest talking points in 2018 and ultimately it could shift how we interact with the digital world.

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