Gadgets and apps get more personal
BRUSH smarter. That's the message from the makers of what is billed as the world's first Internet-connected toothbrush.
Unveiled on Sunday at a preview event for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the device from French-based start-up Kolibree aims "to reinvent oral care", according to co-founder Loic Cessot.
"The technology in the industry has not evolved for years," he said. The Kolibree toothbrush includes a sensor which detects how much tartar is being removed in a brushing. It also records brushing activity so users can maintain a consistent cleaning each time.
The device conveys the information wirelessly to a smartphone app - a particularly useful aid for parents who want to monitor the teeth-cleaning efforts of small children, he said.
This week at CES, personal technology will get much more personal, with the proliferation of biometric tools to create more-customised online experiences. Many are betting that by developing compelling apps designed with the wearables' special features in mind, they can create overwhelming demand for the products.
Mr Shawn Hardin, chief executive of game company Mind Pirate, which will release Global Food Fight - its first game for Google Glass - this month, said: "A whole new app ecosystem is going to be born.
"Those who are going to make that happen in a big way are going to be valuable companies because of it, and those who wait too late won't be a part of it."
The market for mobile-game apps is expected to grow to US$17 billion (S$21.5 billion) this year from just US$6 billion in 2010, analysts said, and wearables could fuel growth in the years to come.
An array of new smartwatches and devices like fitness tracker Fitbit will go on display this week, heralding a potential breakthrough for the devices this year.
Google Glass is expected to launch broadly sometime this year. So far, its user-testing version has been available only at a price of US$1,500 to about 15,000 developers and consumers who registered to be part of its early-adopter programme.
Juniper Research expects more than 130 million wearable devices will be shipped by 2018. Moreover, global shipments of wearable "smart glasses" alone will reach 10 million each year by 2018, compared with an estimated 87,000 last year, according to the research firm.
Mobile-game developer Glu wanted to get a jump on its rivals by creating a word-puzzle game called Spellista for Google Glass. Because Glass allows hands-free experiences, Spellista's gameplay relies on voice commands and head movements that work with the device's gyroscope.
Over 2,000 developers, including Glu, have access to the programming code and tools needed to design apps for Glass.
Companies such as Qualcomm and Fitbit will use CES to showcase wearable fitness trackers and smartwatches, in addition to single- and binocular-lens "glasses".