Home » Forget smartwatches, consumers are buying up these quirky, alternative wearable devices

Forget smartwatches, consumers are buying up these quirky, alternative wearable devices

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CNN

2015, same year Apple Introduced a smartwatchhas launched a Kickstarter campaign for a completely different kind of wearable device, a wellness tracking ring called Oura.

Seven years later, the Apple Watch most popular wearable devices from other similar products google and samsung Dominating the wearable market. But there is something remarkable going on. Products like Oura, which look and function significantly different from mainstream wearables, are seeing renewed interest.

Oura Ring ($399) saw a surge in sales during the pandemic and continued momentum this holiday season, CEO Tom Hale told CNN Business. It provides sleep tracking data and can detect subtle changes in body temperature without the need to wear a smartwatch to go to bed. Also no screen.Earlier this year, the company announced it had received It is valued at $2.55 billion and has since developed partnerships with Gucci, Strava and other brands.

The Ring is one of a small but growing group of alternative wearable devices, such as screenless fitness band trackers and headphones that don’t need to be worn in your ears. Some of the demand is due to changes during the pandemic, when consumer interest in health monitoring has surged. People use their activity trackers, smartwatches, and other devices to keep track of things like steps taken and important stats. Many were also willing to experiment with different form factors as long as they provided accurate data and were comfortable. This trend continues today.

Ramon Llamas, research director at IDC Research, said: “But word of mouth takes time to spread.”

These devices can also take advantage of the desire to get the benefits of wearable trackers without having to wear a screen or device on the body all the time.

Take a look at the WHOOP band, screenless health trackers that first appeared in 2015. We are very focused on workout recovery, rest periods, training and coaching. Founder and CEO Will Ahmed told CNN Business that this year’s Cyber ​​Monday was the biggest sales day ever.

“It wasn’t that long ago that people wore health monitors only if they had a problem. Now we see people taking a more proactive approach to their health,” he said. He said, “This trend continues even as the pandemic subsides.”

Like Oura, WHOOP It is a subscription-based device and targets a more niche audience. It’s also expensive, at $480 including a two-year subscription plan.

hoop band

“The challenge is that most of these devices are vying for single-digit market share behind the market leaders. [such as Apple and Samsung]said the llama. “That’s why it’s important to have a well-differentiated segment that you can serve almost exclusively. is an important factor for many athletes today.”

Ahmed said the product is evolving to support growing health concerns by adding new features related to pregnancy, stress and deeper biometric monitoring. WHOOP announced in August Raises $200 million A funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 has valued the company at $3.6 billion.

Health-tracking devices also continue to take on new shapes and sizes, including ones that don’t need to be worn at all.In September, Amazon showed off a non-wearable sleep-tracking monitor. hello rise, sits on a nightstand and tracks breathing patterns while the user sleeps.Meanwhile, some companies like Withings offer users slip sensor under mattress Collect sleep data.

There’s no doubt there’s a change in demand Headphones, one of the original wearables.

Bone conduction headphones that have been around for years, like Oura, are also “under consideration,” according to Steve Konig, director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association. Bone conduction headphones should be placed in front of the ear and left uncovered, rather than sitting inside or on top of the ear canal. They send sound along the user’s bones and jaw to the ear rather than directly into the ear canal. The headphones also feature a soft band behind the top of your neck to help keep them in place and minimize sound distortion.

Shokz bone conduction headphones.

At the same time, the exposed ears allow users to pick up sounds and environments around them. This is important for your safety when doing activities such as biking or jogging. Unlike earphones, you don’t have to worry about them popping out of your ears.

shock ($125) pioneered bone conduction headphones, but the market has since been expanded by other brands offering similar designs. Open He earbuds, such as those designed by Sony and Bose, feature a similar design that leaves the ear canal completely open to allow the user to hear outside noise. But some audiophiles say bone conduction headphones and open earbuds don’t sound great.

“The past decade has seen a surge in audio innovation in general, with the introduction of new features such as noise-cancelling technology and built-in wireless capabilities,” Konig said. “People now have multiple personal listening products for different locations and uses. , In the grand scheme of gift-giving, it’s pretty reasonable to buy, so it’s also a great holiday gift.”

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