The week in wearable tech: Big names drop out of wearable game

Another week in wearable tech rounded up
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If there's one emerging trend in wearable tech, it's big names dropping out of the market. This week has seen Wareable report on rumours that TomTom could be about to exit the wearable tech market thanks to lacklustre sales in its sports division.

If it does decide to exit the market it follows Jawbone and Intel out of the Wareable market in the past month – with Withings becoming Nokia and Pebble part of Fitbit. Obviously, buyouts are different to pulling the rip-chord on the whole market, but the pool of wearable brands is shifting quite dramatically at the moment, and it's shrinking.

While Nokia and Fitbit's big buyouts are widely regarded as good news for the industry, TomTom's cold feet is worrying. The company has been busy making decent running and golf watches – and it's not managed to turn those into cash.

You can read our thoughts on TomTom's sports predicament, but what's the big picture here? What does it mean for wearable tech?

The first is that it's tough out there. Companies such as IDC are reporting and predicting decent growth in the wearables market – with recent estimates show the market will double by 2021. So the vibrancy of wearable tech isn't really in question. What's happening is the market is being dominated by big players. Garmin has been the thorn in the side of TomTom, just as Fitbit has decimated every major fitness tracking brand out there – before being decimated itself by Apple.

The market is also converging fairly hard. The Apple Watch has started eating fitness trackers and it stands to reason that the GPS running watch market is next.

There will be winners and losers from this – and we're now looking at a market will only have a few players. And that reality is approaching fairly quickly. And while that's hard to accept, watching the vibrant market contract before our eyes, it's not surprising, and is a sign that wearables are reaching a level of acceptance among consumers.

More watches land

The week in wearable tech: Big names drop out of wearable game

As if to illustrate the above point, it's been another busy week in the world of smartwatches. Fossil Group has launched the Skagen Hagen Signatur Hybrid collection, expanding its collection of analogue watches with fitness and notification smarts. The Signatur collection consists of four 42mm styles for men.

Huawei has also been active, launching a Porsche Design version of the Huawei Watch 2. It offers a slightly more aggressive design, red stitching on the band and a $935 price tag. Just a $600 premium for the Porsche logo on your Huawei smartwatch – it seems the tech world is taking a few notes from the classic watch one.

VR firms get busy

The week in wearable tech: Big names drop out of wearable game

After a quiet 2017 for the likes of Oculus and HTC, news has started to trickle out. Earlier in July we revealed rumours of a standalone Oculus headset which could cost as little as $200, and now the company has revealed a set of VR gloves, for controlling and interacting with objects inside VR.

But HTC has also covered off a standalone Oculus by launching a second untethered headset – in China only. Hot on the heels of the Japan-only HTC Link, this new standalone HTC Vive is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor, and should outgun most mobile VR headsets, although won't hold a candle to the fully-fledged Vive experience.

And to wrap up a week of headset-related news, Microsoft has confirmed details about a new version of Microsoft HoloLens, which will include a special coprocessor chip dedicated to AI. This will let the headset analyse objects, carry out hand tracking and allow other interactions, without the need for sending data to the cloud, slowing the entire experience.

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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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