IFA has finally returned to a fully in-person format. Europe’s biggest tech gathering began yesterday. Here’s our selection of wearable tech that has made a showing.
IFA or Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin is one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in Germany. The first show debuted back in 1924. From then on it was held annually until 1950 when it transitioned into a biannual format until 2005. This is when it went back to an annual format.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
Unfortunately, it has been a couple of years since we were last in Berlin attending the show. As you’ve probably guessed, the coronavirus situation turned things upside down. In 2020 IFA was predominantly a virtual event with some limited in-person gatherings. Things were no better in 2021. In fact, in that year the organizers decided to entirely cancel the event.
But things are slowly returning back to normal and IFA 2022 is back in its usual format. The event started on Friday and concludes on Tuesday, September 6th. This will be the 59th IFA. The last in-person IFA in 2019 attracted nearly a quarter of a million visitors. All indicators are we are getting more of the same in 2022. It is quite crowded here.
Wearable technology typically makes a strong showing in Berlin and this year is no different. It’s a big deal for wearable manufacturers as the timing for product announcements is great – early September, a couple of months ahead of the all-important holiday shopping period. Most of the big players are here debuting their latest gear, including Fitbit, Garmin, Withings, Zepp Health, Huawei and Samsung.
The one obvious omission is Apple. But no surprise there as the company prefers to organize its own launch events. Xiaomi is another name missing from the list of exibitors.
Wearable tech making headlines
For starters, Fitbit is showcasing Sense 2, Versa 4 and Luxe 2 at the event. The trio officially launched in August. The devices are available for pre-order but they will not ship until well into September.
The company has used the Berlin platform as a launch ground for its wearables many times in the past years. All three of these devices come with iterative upgrades over their predecessors so no huge surprises there. Inspire 3 got a snazzy new AMOLED display, Versa some more sports modes and Sense 2 has the ability to capture continuously electrodermal activity.
Garmin is another big name that is is here. This year, however, it only has one new watch on display – the Venu Sq 2. Its screen has received an upgrade as compared to the original. You now get something with a 1.41 inch display and respectable 360 x 360 pixels resolution. The device also gets GNSS support, nearly double the battery life (11 days in smartwatch mode), Sleep Score & Insights, Health Snapshot and more sports modes.
Other Garmin devices that we are expecting after IFA include Instinct Analog, Vivomove Trend and a mystery device called Austin. These names come from a list published by a local Garmin distributor so remains unconfirmed. Another possibility is a smart blood pressure monitor called Index BPM. The company has recently added the ability of Garmin Connect to write blood pressure measurements to Apple Health.
Samsung is, of course, here once again. It always makes a big splash at IFA with a large hall dedicated to its products. Galaxy Watch 5 and 5 Pro were made official about a month ago and the company is proudly displaying their abilities.
The Pro version is not fundamentally different from the non-Pro. But it has a titanium housing rather than aluminium, along with a larger battery and an improved Sapphire display.
You could say this edition is an evolution in the Galaxy Watch lineup rather than a revolution. The sensors inside the watches are unchanged. So heart rate, Spo2, ECG and more are all there, in the guise of a single 3-in1 sensor dubbed BioActive. The one important new addition is a temperature sensor.
Then we have the Amazfit brand. Zepp Health timed the announcement of the GT4 line in time for IFA 2022. Actually, the first device in this range had dropped earlier in the guise of the GTS 4 Mini.
A couple of days ago GTR 4 and GTS 4 were added to the list. They come with a bunch of nice upgrades as compared to their predecessors. This includes some design enhancements, along with Huami’s latest BioTracker 4.0 PPG optical sensor, around-the-clock SpO2 monitoring, improved sports features, dual-band circularly-polarised GPS antenna technology and on-board storage for music.
The watch that has particularly impressed us is the GTR 4. Absolutely beautiful in design it appears very premium. Look out for our review of the timepiece to drop in the weeks ahead.
Withings has a display in Berlin. Little has dropped from the French outfit in terms of new devices this year. Our hope was that we would see its Body Scan scale. And it is here. The device will be available for sale in the EU in November. Wider availability is expected early next year. For reminder, this is by far the smartest scale in existance. It has the ability to assess nerve activity, detect ECG and Afib as well as monitor segmental body composition thanks to a retracteable sensor-packed handle.
A surprise announcement was the Withings Body Comp scale. It also comes with some novel functionality such as Vascular Age and a Nerve Health Score. The latter is monitored by analyzing the sweat glands in the feet.
No sign yet of the urine analysis device we are expecting. It will likely be called Bio-Screener, and the French company has filed a few patents for this so it will likely debut at some stage.
Like this article? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and never miss out!