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Best wearable tech at MWC 2018

MWC 2018: These are the wearables that caught our eye in Barcelona

Another Mobile World Congress is done and dusted and from a wearable tech point of view, it's fair to say it's been a bit of a quiet show. Samsung, Huawei and LG didn't give us any new smartwatches, fitness trackers or hearables to go hunting for this year unfortunately.

But that's not to say the show was entirely void of new and innovative wearables for us to get a play with. Amidst the 5G chat and full-screen smartphones, we had some new VR headsets and experiences to sample, a couple of unique-looking smartwatches and, hey, even Sony decided to join the wearables party for once.

Read next: 50 wearable tech predictions for 2018

Here's our pick of the wearables that stood out at MWC 2018.

Sony Xperia Ear Duo

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We've seen Sony iterate on its open ear hearable concept for almost two years now. But this year the concept finally became a real product headed for store shelves. Say hello to the Xperia Ear Duo.

The standout feature is being able to listen to music and the real world at the same time, perfect for cyclists and runners who don't want traffic noise drowned out. You'll also get to use either Google Assistant or Siri, depending on what type of phone you've got on you.

The design and features haven't changed much, but we do know it'll arrive in late May for $280. In our hands-on with the Xperia Ear Duo, we found that it did a good job with its open ear concept, but that it might need a couple more features to justify the price tag.

HTC's new Vive trackers

Best wearable tech at MWC 2018

MWC was another opportunity for HTC to bring out the Vive Pro, but it did have something new to show off in the way of its upgraded Vive tracker.

Version 2.0 was being demoed with a VR football coaching and rehab program designed by British-based startup Mi Hiepa Sports. The program uses the Vive Pro (sans cables) alongside trackers placed on trainers and shin pads to track the movement of the feet and shins in 3D space.

It's one of the more unique uses of HTC's add-on we've seen for some time and you can find out exactly what we made of it by reading our piece on what it's like to play football in VR with Vive (spoiler alert: it's very good)

Haier Asu

Best wearable tech at MWC 2018

You can definitely tag this smartwatch under wacky. Chinese tech company Haier likes to dip its toes into all sorts of tech, and decided at MWC that it was time to debut a smartwatch that projects data onto your hand.

Read this: Huawei Watch 3 Android Wear smartwatch confirmed

The Asu, which launches in China in May, is a bit of a bulky beast, but allows owners to view fitness tracker data, the number pad from the phone dialler and even doodles. The watch also packs GPS, 4G LTE support, a big 650mAh battery and a heart rate monitor.

A smartwatch with a projector is a concept that has come up recently with talk that Huawei may well be exploring the possibility of creating something similar. But if you want to live that beam life now, this is your best option. If you live in China, that is. Have a read of our Haier Asu hands-on to find out if it makes a good first impression.

Qualcomm's latest VR reference design

MWC 2018: All the wearables news from Barcelona so far

Now, you won't be able to buy Qualcomm's its reference design VR headset, but it was an important unveiling because it showcases technology that could feature in future standalone VR headsets.

This year, it was all about the chipset giant's Snapdragon 845 processor and what it's going to bring to the VR party when headsets packing it start landing later this year.

The demo we had during our hands on with the Snapdragon 845 wasn't long – Qualcomm doesn't have too much software to show off at this stage – but it did highlight that we have plenty to look forward to with regards to 6DoF, foveated rendering and enhanced displays.

HTC Vive Focus

Best wearable tech at MWC 2018

Speaking of standalone headsets, and ones that are powered by Qualcomm's processor tech, HTC was showing off the Vive Focus, which is currently only available in China.

It appears that HTC is still toying with the idea of a global rollout of its first standalone VR hardware that uses the same lens and display technology as the more expensive Vive Pro, includes built-in speakers and of course doesn't need to be connected to a smartphone or a computer to power it.

What's really special here is that it also brings the ability to move in VR with a bundled controller also on hand to improve the immersive experience. You can see what we made of it in our HTC Vive Focus hands on.

Omate X Nanoblock

Best wearable tech at MWC 2018

You may already know of Omate for its previous work in the kids' smartwatch space, and the latest move from the company is to team up with Japanese toymaker Diablock for the Omate x Nanoblock.

The first big thing to talk about this kids wearable is the fact it looks like it's made of Lego, which is always a winner in our eyes. It also offers 3G connectivity, location tracking and SOS alerts in order to keep the wearer safe, while more standard features include a front-facing camera, step counting and a stopwatch. The smartwatch is set to ship in June.

You can find out if parents (and kids) will be sold on Omate's latest smartwatch in our Omate Nanoblock hands-on review.

Sony and Ericsson take on diabetes

Best wearable tech at MWC 2018

We were actually a bit surprised there wasn't more serious health tracking wearables out at MWC, but this collaboration between Sony, Ericsson and components manufacturer Altair is the one example that stood out.

The concept uses a wristband packed with an LTE chip inside that has been designed by Sony and works alongside a small pod-shaped glucose monitoring device that users also wear.

With the cellular connectivity support, it can send the health data to a smartphone or work without being connected to a smartphone. As we mentioned, this is very much a concept. But with the likes of Fitbit and Apple are also exploring non-invasive glucose tracking, it's nice to see the likes Sony also playing its part in making life a little easier for diabetics.


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