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Sensing the Future

FYI: The Rundown

February 2015

Wearables are becoming big business. Juniper Research predicts that 116 million smart wearable devices will ship around the globe in 2017, more than four times the amount being shipped right now.

“We are moving toward a connected, multidevice world,” says Jeremy Ashley, vice president of the Oracle Applications User Experience group. “We see that wearables are a large part of this. They allow our customers to participate more seamlessly with their enterprise systems.”

Indeed, there are many innovative ideas about how to use wearables to improve customers’ lives, both at work and in other aspects of their lives. And many of these products are just hitting the market. Check out what’s new.

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To Your Health

Activity trackers are nothing new, but they are getting more advanced. The latest Fitbit, Surge, can track everything from your heartbeat to your GPS. Plus you can use it to ID calls, get text notifications—and even control music from another mobile device. Other health-focused products coming to market? JINS MEME glasses (pictured here) track eye movements so wearers can learn just how tired they really are. And the makers of Olive, a bracelet that helps users recognize and manage their stress levels, recently finished a successful Indiegogo campaign.

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Setting the Stage

Performers are discovering all kinds of exciting ways to use sensors to enhance their art. Imogen Heap’s wireless Mi.Mu gloves put music making in anyone’s hands, letting users manipulate sound through gestures. Meanwhile, Lesia Trubat’s Electronic Traces (pictured here) add a new dimension to dance by transforming the pressure coming from a dancer’s ballet shoes into visuals that can be viewed on a mobile app.

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In Fashion

Apple Watch Edition comes in an 18-karat gold case, signaling a major movement from utilitarian wearables to something sartorial. But there are plenty of other fashion-forward sensors to watch. Cuff offers metal and leather keychains, necklaces, and cuff bracelets for activity tracking and call and text notification—and a security function enabling the wearer to contact friends for help. Other colorful ideas that could make a big splash? Drap og Design has created a concept jacket that changes colors based on what you touch; and the sleek, stylish Moodmetric smart ring (pictured here) gives the old mood ring a modern makeover.

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Back at the Office

Sensors are becoming part of the enterprise, too, as executives seek ways to increase productivity. Boeing is evaluating software for smart glasses, enabling workers to see complex instructions in real time; and employees at sandwich chain Capriotti’s have used smart glasses to figure out how to make rush time run more smoothly—and have better interactions with customers. Meanwhile, social media management company Buffer wants to create a culture centered on self-improvement, so executives pass out biometric wristbands to employees on their first day, encouraging them to focus on their activity, diet, and sleep; compare results; and share successful fitness strategies.

Photography by Shutterstock