​The week in wearable tech: Facebook's AR plans and Android Wear delays

Our take on the wearable week that was
​The week in wearable tech

Another week in wearable tech has been dominated by Facebook. The custodian of Oculus Rift (can we have it placed into protective foster care? No? Anyone?) has been hosting its F8 conference this week, and putting stuff on your face was high up the agenda.

The conference included a raft of wearable-based announcements on some pretty far out tech, from the company's Building 8 moonshot centre.

The first is a wearable brain sensor that turns your thoughts into type. With obvious huge uses for people with diabilities, the wearable sensor uses optical neuro-imaging to read your mind. And if that's not impressive enough, it was announced alongside another prototype technology that enables your skin to function as your inner ear, translating sounds into frequencies your brain can understand. Now that's a wearable.

The week in wearable tech: Facebook's AR plans and Android Wear delays

What we didn't get to hear enough about was Facebook's AR glasses. Sadly, they're not coming any time soon, with all the chat on stage from Michael Abrash, Facebook's chief scientist of Oculus Research, indicating that consumer-friendly AR was still five years out.

"Despite all the attention focused on AR today it will be five years at best before we're really at the start of the ramp to widespread, glasses-based augmented reality, before AR has its Macintosh moment," he said.

It also tallies with recent research from smart eyewear won't be headed our way until 2021.

That pretty much pours water on the idea of seeing consumer-ready AR in the next 12 months, and arguably, on any designs on an Apple AR headset, which some gung-ho analysts have been predicting for 2017.

But why does Facebook's announcement make us believe that Apple's tech won't happen either? Firstly, Apple has never been much of an innovator. It rarely blazes a trail, but manages to perfect what others can't. Secondly, tech companies are rarely more than a few months away from each other's development cycle. It seems highly unlikely Apple could have solved the problems in 2017 that Facebook believes will take until 2022 to become reality.

New limited edition Apple Watch

The week in wearable tech: Facebook's AR plans and Android Wear delays

But Apple has been active this week. As we roll towards WWDC, which could conceivably see the unveiling of watchOS 4, Nike has unveiled a new Apple Watch collaboration: the Apple Watch NikeLab. But don't get too excited. While still offering unique watch faces and deep integration of the Nike+ Run Club app, it's simply the Apple Watch Series 2 Nike+ watch with a white strap.

Android Wear keeps on rolling (out)

Elsewhere, the slow rollout of Android Wear 2.0 to existing devices rumbles on. We've now heard that the Asus ZenWatch 3 will be getting the treatment in "late April or May", which is the same time the original Huawei Watch is set to land Android Wear 2.0. If you're still waiting for your smartwatch to get the Wear 2.0 treatment, check our up-to-date list of when existing Android Wear watches are set to get updated.

The week in wearable tech: Facebook's AR plans and Android Wear delays

The new crop of Android Wear devices is still going strong, and our review of the budget ZTE Quartz just dropped for a bargain price, even if it's bulky and light on features. That puts it at pretty much the opposite end of the scale to the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45 and LG Watch Sport, which we previously reviewed.

So all-in-all a relatively quiet week for wearable tech, but let's leave you on a high. This week in an interview with Fitbit, the company revealed the origins of its brand name and some discarded options. While you can head over and read the full story, just imagine you were donning the Fitberry Charge to track your sets or the Fitcado Blaze for your trip to the gym. Fitbit, you made the right choice.


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