The tech gift guide: enviable wearable gadgets for technophiles

12 Dec 2013

Here are our tips on what to get the gadget guru that has everything. From wearable devices and fitness tech to augmented reality clothing – there’s surely something in here that will blow them away this Christmas.

Second-gen smartwatch

Let’s start with smartwatches. The most accessible wearable tech out there, these nifty companion devices can be paired with a smartphone to make communication easier and offer added benefits.

For Irish shoppers, the Sony SmartWatch 2 is available from all operators and retailers from €179. This Android-compatible smartwatch comes with an NFC chip for fast pairing to enable it as a 1.6-inch second screen for your smartphone or tablet. Use it to receive messages, handle calls, access notifications and calendars, check your call log, read emails or keep up with what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter. It’s water-resistant so you don’t have to worry about it getting wet, plus the display holds up well in direct sunlight.

Sony SmartWatch 2

For an added personal touch, the SmartWatch 2 can be fitted with any standard 24mm watch strap. Additional apps are available to download from Google Play and, best of all, the battery should last about three to four days on a single charge.

Pebble pusher

Another slinky smartwatch we like is the Pebble, which has an estimated life-span of 10 years. In a decade, we could all be wearing smartwatches so this is the perfect gift for the tech fan who always wants to be ahead of the curve.

The clever timepiece connects to both Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth and can then be used to alert the wearer of incoming calls, texts or emails with a silent vibration. There’s also a range of different clock faces and customisable apps available, so users can programme their Pebble to do what they want, such as tell the time, track their running or cycling, or control music playing on their smartphone.

Pebble smartwatch

The Pebble packs a low-power, highly readable E-Ink screen, plus a number of sensors and an ARM processor. It’s also water-resistant and its battery should keep going for up to a week.

Place your order by 18 December and this Kickstarter success story can be shipped from the US in time for Christmas at a cost of US$150 plus US$25 for expedited delivery.

Fitbit’s fitness tech trio

There’s also a whole range of wearable tech out there for fitness enthusiasts. Fitness tech-maker Fitbit has a number of options, from the Flex activity band (€100, Argos) and One activity tracker (€100, Harvey Norman) to the less-expensive Zip activity tracker (€60, Apple Store).

Flex is a popular one; an easy-to-wear water-resistant wristband available in a range of colours that tracks your steps, distance and calories burned during the day, and then monitors your sleep cycle at night. The Flex band can even be used as an alarm to get you up in the morning.

Fitbit Flex in red

The Fitbit Flex in action

Stats from the Flex are uploaded wirelessly to either a computer or compatible mobile device so you can see how you’re doing, set goals and track your progress. LED lights on the wristband will let you know if a goal is reached during the day, and you can earn badges for your achievements.

The One works just the same as the Flex but rather than wear it on your wrist this tracker can be attached to your person using a clip-on feature, and it also includes a small LED screen.

Fitbit Flex, The One and Zip

From left: the Fitbit Flex, One and Zip

For tighter purse-strings, the Zip is a smaller colourful tracker that can be hooked to your clothing. It’s sweat, rain and splash-proof and comes with a replaceable battery, Bluetooth dongle and free Fitbit account.

HUD the slopes

Wearable tech can be useful for more extreme sports, too. These Oakley Airwave 1.5 snow goggles (€650) feature a heads-up display that lets you view incoming calls and texts and control music playback on your iPhone while on the slopes, using Bluetooth wireless technology and the Oakley Airwave Snow app. You can also see Facebook messages in real-time and respond quickly with configurable, preset messages on the Airwave display.

Oakley Airwave 1.5 HUD snow goggles

The goggles also feature GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity, plus a collection of on-board sensors for performance analytics and pre-loaded maps for hundreds of resorts worldwide.

The latest edition offers enhanced display graphics and improved battery life, while Oakley’s Switchlock technology can apply a wide array of optional lens tints to optimise vision for the environmental conditions.

Augmented reali-Ts

A fun gift you can surprise a technophile with this Christmas is some augmented reality (AR) clothing. The first step is to visit to pick up a specially designed T-shirt, long-sleeve, hoody or record bag (prices start at stg£17.99), and download AppDappa for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Then, on Christmas Day, get your giftee to try on his or her new threads and make the secret designs come to life with your smartphone camera.

Augmented reality clothing from Flashwear and AppDappa

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.