Not long ago, wearable tech was synonymous with smartwatches and fitness trackers; stuff you could wear around your wrist. As we get set to leave the 2010s, that traditional definition of a wearable doesn’t hold good anymore. Sony-funded Reon Pocket, an air-conditioner you can wear, will be available for sale in 2020. The decade also saw quite a few concepts like Polo Ralph Lauren’s PoloTech Shirt embedded with silver fibres and a detachable Bluetooth box with live biometrics and adaptive workouts. Bluetooth headsets and eyewear with audio capabilities certainly look the most sorted and that’s the kind of stuff that makes the perfect accessory for your upcoming year-end vacation.
Focals by North
These are transparent reading glasses with smart capabilities. It’s clearly a case of more than meets the eye. People around you might be unaware of the incredible powers of these glasses — they’re almost a display for your face. The biggest talking point of these glasses is a holographic display. It’s something only the person wearing them can see and it doesn’t block their line of sight. From navigation to text summaries you can view everything without reaching for your phone. These AR glasses are also available with prescription glasses on online buying platforms and offer a great ‘vision’ of the not so distant future. And then there’s the audio AR (with in-built speakers) that lets you access Alexa for all your queries.
Probably the most innovative piece of wearable tech that we’ve seen debut in 2019. Style quotient is the first box the Bose Frames ticks. Bose’s audio sunglasses come in two styles — Rondo, a rounded frame for smaller faces and the more angular Alto that we tested. The slightly thick arms and a tiny charging dock are the only design elements that reveal the Frames’ audio and smart capabilities. Bose has embedded the dual speakers — technically it’s the smallest Bose sound system out there, under each of the arms and they belt out good quality sound. While they can’t compete with the sound pedigree of a headphone, they ensure you’re plugged into the rest of the world.
It’s very likely that many users will use the Frames more for calls than music. This is an area the Bose Frames comes out on top: Callers won’t be able to tell that you’re using a Bluetooth device. A barely visible, multi-function key gets a lot of stuff done including powering the Frames on and shuffling tracks. An extended press activates Google Assistant or Siri. In another clever touch, flipping the shades turns them off. We wish Bose had also added volume control. The Frames manage around four hours of battery life. The devices also offer a peek into the future of Audio AR. Bose has a dedicated AR App store with some handy Apps. The Bose Frames is that rare piece of tech where style meets function.
At just 5.5gm each, these are among the lightest earbuds. A Realtek chipset is at the heart of the BTW-01’s impressive HD Surround sound while a unique 45-degree angle ensures that these buds won’t fall off easily. You can control these headphones with tap control that allows you play and pause music, answer calls or activate digital assistants like Siri.
OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2
The first edition of OnePlus’ Bullets was immensely popular with active users. The second generation of OnePlus’ in-ear headphones make big improvements on the original form factor, including a brand new olive green colour variant. Sound quality gets a boost with two Knowles Balanced Armature Drivers and one 10mm dynamic driver in each earbud. Battery life is another major leap — 10 minutes of charging (with OnePlus’ proprietary warp charge) gives you 10 hours of listening time while a full charge delivers 14 hours of battery life. But it’s the intuitive design that wins our approval. Just clip the bullets together to turn them off and separate them when you’re ready to resume playback.
Sennheiser CX Sport
is all about creating a personalised wearable experience — a choice of four sizes of ear adapters and three sizes of ear fins is evidence. The CX Sport is both splash- and sweat-resistant. You can wear them around the neck or in front. A proprietary speaker system that combines clear sound with a deep bass ensures incredible sound quality despite its lightweight form.