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Gaining the edge with wearable technology

Big brands are developing futuristic products, for monitoring health, tracking activity, enabling conversations with speakers of unfamiliar languages and for outsmarting golfing competitors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 9:23am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 9:23am

If there’s one thing that fitness bands and smart watches are not, it’s discreet.

When you’re wearing one it’s blindingly obvious – which might have been the point when these devices first came out, and everyone rushed to be an early adopter. But now we’ve kind of gotten over that.

They’re handy, and useful, but have always seemed better paired with gym gear than a business suit.  Now that wearable tech devices are evolving from lifestyle enhancer to useful tool, we’re bound to see more of them geared towards the corporate sector.

An obvious market niche lies in the fact that smart watches will never replace a dress watch in the well-groomed executive’s accessory wardrobe. A team of passionate German watch lovers agree, so they’ve come up with a band embedded with smart watch functionality – so you get to keep your favourite wristwatch, and have your health data tracked as well, in the one wearable wrist item. According to its web site, the Wotch e-strap will be launching soon.

Already, luxury Swiss brand Montblanc has entered the wearable fray, adding an e-Strap to its range of watches. The e-Strap stylishly bundles the class and accuracy of a traditional timepiece with all the benefits that come with a Bluetooth-connected, wrist-worn activity tracker and notification tool.

Samsung is targeting the entire corporate wardrobe with the wearable tech it’s developing. The Korean electronic giant’s upcoming WELT – or wellness belt – may appear to be an ordinary trouser belt, but it monitors your waistline as well. Data is sent to your smartphone for analysis, and if you look like you are gaining weight, the companion app will in effect tell you to “step away from the cake”.

Samsung is also behind the Smart Suit, an NFC chip-equipped garment offering a range of features such as digital exchange of business cards; a pocket with “etiquette mode” which automatically mutes your phone without you having to touch it; and charging technology built into the cuff which discreetly powers up your phone.

While such technologies might seem to have little more than novelty value, US company Waverly Labs is fine tuning a business tool which actually will be useful: wireless earphones which let two people who speak different languages communicate smoothly with each other. The conversing parties simply slip a Pilot bud into their ear, and they can hear what the other person is saying in their own native tongue. The company hopes to start shipping the devices next year.

Wearable kit for the corporate set doesn’t stop at the boardroom. It’s no secret that much business is done on the golf course. An accepted invitation to join a round at your club means you’ve got a captive audience for several hours – but how to close the deal while concentrating on your game as well?

The TomTom Golfer2 is an intelligent sports tracker which also performs as a business multitasking tool.

It comes pre-loaded with information about 40,000 courses worldwide and, with GPS detecting where you are, can give an accurate picture of the course layout, and detailed information on hazards. With automatic shot detection, score keeping and post-game analysis, this device does all the thinking for you: so while your golfing partner stews over their game, you’re freed up to drill down to what’s really on your mind.