IFA 2017 preview: Wearables to expect at Europe’s largest tech show
Europe’s biggest technology show, known as IFA, is held annually in Berlin. The event is a chance for companies to showcase their existing and upcoming products. The number of visitors totalled around 250,000 in 2016, and this year is likely to top that. In 2017 the 57th IFA will take place.
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Wearables are one of the most talked about technologies in the run-up to the gathering. The actual event opens to the public on September 1st, but there will be a string of press conferences starting from August 30th.
We will be on the ground in Berlin to report on all the news. Last year we witnessed a number of launches including the Fitbit Charge 2 and Flex 2, Withings Steel HR, Tom Tom Touch, Samsung Gear S3 Frontier and Asus Zen Watch 2.
Here is a preview of wearables we expect to see this year.
Samsung is kicking things of early with a press conference at 18:00 CET on Wednesday the 30th. We now know that its new Gear Fit 2 Pro will make an appearance. The main novelty here is the 5 ATM water resistance and ability to track swim sessions. You’ll also get offline Spotify music playback. The design is slightly tweaked, but its other features are pretty much unchanged from the predecessor device.
The next smartwatch in the Gear series will also make its debut at the IFA trade show. Recent leaks point to the likely launch of the Gear Sport, a hybrid smartwatch that features a round screen, a heart rate sensor and the Tinzen 3.0 operating system onboard.
In an interview with CNBC earlier this week, the president of Samsung’s mobile division DJ Koh commented that the current crop of smartwatches leave a lot to be desired in terms of health sensors.
“If we can put in place properly a smartwatch that can monitor everything for your health and provide the information, then the market will grow. Today’s sensors do not look like enough.” Koh told CNBC.
Lets hope we also see something new on that front. Its been a while since we’ve seen something truly different in terms of sensor technology.
Fitbit has been losing market share over the past year. All eyes are now on Ionic, which is set to launch in October.
James Park, the company’s CEO, will be holding a keynote speech between 17:00 and 17:45 CET September 1st. He will be discussing the evolution of wearables, their long-term potential and highlighting some exciting new areas that Fitbit is exploring.
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Now that we have details of the upcoming smartwatch, the device is likely to make a showing at the event. This is a fully featured timepiece with GPS, contactless payments, on-board storage and much more. It packs 8 sensors inside including a relative SpO2 sensor that measures blood oxygen levels. Will all this be enough to to reverse the company’s flagging fortunes remains to be seen.
Garmin has been rather quiet in recent months but we are expecting the successor to the Vivoactive HR to land soon. There is a distinct possibility the company may use the Berlin gathering to launch the wearable. This would certainly make the news and has the potential to be the show-stealer.
Dubbed Vivoactive 3, images show a classy looking device that closely resembles Garmin’s Fenix and Forerunner line. The Vivoactive 3 even sports the same charger and heart rate sensor. The inclusion of only two physical buttons, though, indicates that it may sport a touch screen.
Unfortunately, no details have emerged about actual specs. Its predecessor was a Swiss knife of activity trackers, so its safe to expect Vivoactive 3 will inherit all of this and build with vitals statistics such as VO2 Max and perhaps stress monitoring. It will probably also incorporate some more advanced running metrics.
Its a safe bet that Fossil will be showing off new touchscreen and hybrid smartwatch collections at the event. At the start of the year, the company promised an unprecedented 300 new connected devices this year.
This includes hybrid and smartwatches across 14 brands including Misfit, Diesel, Emporio Armani, Michael Kors and Fossil. New Fossil Group brands entering the wearables space in 2017 include DKNY, Marc Jacobs, MICHELE, Relic and Tory Burch. The company has recently revealed its Q Venture and Q Explorist watches.
Misfit, which now falls on the Fossil brand, will also have a display area. Vapor, its first smartwatch, is expected to hit the market soon for $199 so perhaps it may make an appearance. With this watch, the California band outfit has decided to forgo simplicity that its well known for, in favour of a fully souped up gadget.
Many other companies will be showcasing trackers for sports, outdoor activities and sleeping, along with smartwatches, smart clothes, smart helmets and much more.
Philips and Microsoft are holding keynote speeches on September the 1st. We are not expecting much on the wearable front from these two though. Philips has recently launched a suite of connected medical grade devices, while Microsoft seems to have shelved its wearables plans for now.
Acer will be holding a press event at 10:30am CET on Wednesday the 3oth. Its new Leap Ware fitness smartwatch is expected to launch any time now so there is a good possibility we may see it at the event. This is a watch that packs some decent specs and looks classy enough for everyday use, not just fitness activities.
Sony has an event scheduled for 13:00 CET on Thursday the 31st, LG at 17:00 CET on the same day and Huawei at 14:00 CET on Saturday the 2nd. Difficult to say what, if anything new, will be announced on the wearable front from any of these but we will keep a close watch.
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