Gadgets of the month: the wearable tech revolution and the changing face of gaming

31 Jan 2014

Image via joingate/Shutterstock

We take a look back at some of the biggest gadget news this month and look ahead at what’s to come.

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The wearable tech revolution is coming

Wearable tech saw its ups and downs this month. First we had Intel CEO Brian Krzanich revealing Edison (a dual-core PC the size of an SD card) at CES, and urging manufacturers to “make it wearable”. Also at CES, Lumus unveiled its DK 40 smart glasses, a stylish competitor for Google Glass arriving in April.

Later in the month, a Deloitte report claimed that sales of 10m wearable tech devices this year will reap US$3bn – which is no surprise when products like the Pebble 301BL smart watch are getting such rave reviews. Even Spotify is rumoured to be keen to cash in on the wearable tech revolution by using readings from users’ heart rate and body motion to customise playlists.

But there are still kinks to be worked out in legislation before wearable devices hit the mainstream. While a Californian driver had a case of wearing Google Glass while driving dismissed on proving the device was switched off, a cinemagoer and Glass-wearer in Ohio was interrogated for over an hour by Homeland Security under suspicion of using the smart glasses to pirate the film.

Smartphone market grows and grows

Last year was a good one for smartphones. According to figures from Juniper Research, there were 980m smartphone shipments in 2013 – of which 1 in 3 were Samsung devices. Chief rival Apple didn’t fare too badly either, seeing a record 55.3m iPhones sold in the last three months of the year.

Android still dominates the European market, though, while Windows Phone trails behind. And within that dominant demographic, Jelly Bean is still the most popular OS despite Google releasing its all-new Kit Kat last year.

On top of that, we have a number of new devices ready to enter the market this year. Lenovo unveiled four new smartphones at CES 2014, including its new flagship Vibe Z – its first phone capable of 4G connectivity. Another budget manufacturer adding 4G capability to its ranks is Archos with two new smartphones, the 45 and 50 Helium 4G.

LG’s curved G Flex will reach Ireland sometime this spring, HP announced its return to the smartphone market with 6 and 7-inch Android devices while Spanish start-up Geeksphone revealed a privacy-focused phone in response to last year’s NSA revelations.

Sony also boosted its range this month, revealing a new line of Xperia Z1 and Z1S smartphones at CES followed by the Xperia T2 Ultra and Xperia E1, while rumour has it we’ll be seeing a Samsung Galaxy S5 with an eye-scanner in April.

Change coming to the gaming industry

In a landmark moment for the video games industry this month, China suspended its 13-year ban on games consoles, opening up a vast market to big players like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, but even Chinese manufacturers are now entering the market, with both Huawei and TCL readying homegrown consoles.

Overall, 2014 could be a year we see fresh competition in gaming – not just in China. Dell’s gaming division Alienware announced that a Steam games console will be unleashed late this year, while a Kickstarter project to create a comeback version of the 1980s ZX Spectrum has reached its funding goal.

Meanwhile, among the bigwigs of the gaming industry, Sony announced a PlayStation streaming service that will become available on a whole range of Sony devices – including TVs, tablets and smartphones – while Nintendo revealed the Wii Fit U in an attempt to maintain relevance.

Main gadgets image via Shutterstock

Vodafone Ireland Gadgets of the Month is made possible by Vodafone Ireland

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.