Beyond smartwatches: Stylish wearables take the stage at CE Week

Wearable devices are getting more stylish and more functional to stand out from the pack of standard smartwatches.


Wearables step it up

Glorified pedometers have strapped themselves to our collective wrists and just won’t die. But a new crop of wearable devices want to give you a bigger picture of your health, tracking everything from blood pressure to body fat percentage in a quest to give you more control over your life.

We scoured the exhibition halls of CE Week in New York to find the wearable devices that hope to snag a piece of your body in the coming year. The days of plain rubber wristbands that merely count steps are over.

ce hexoskin

Second skin

Never before has a wearable computer been so, well, wearable. Hexoskin is a workout tank top that looks like something you’d pick up at Nike, except for all those sensors in the lining. The shirt measures heart rate, calorie burn, step count, and breathing, all while showing what your body is up to on your iOS or Android app. When you inhale and exhale in real life, the lungs on your body’s outline in the app glow blue and retract and expand along with you. It’s incredible to watch, but also incredibly expensive: One shirt, along with the little Bluetooth device you need to wear in your pocket to record your activity, retails for $399. (Although you can wash the shirt in cold water, so no need to buy multiples.) Hexoskin will also work with Android smartwatches released this year, the company announced at CE Week.

ce skulpt aim

Fat-pinching days be gone

Now you have a good reason to take your shirt off and flex: It’s to measure your body fat. The Skulpt Aim is a small, phone-shaped device designed to replace those horrible calipers doctors use to pinch at your stomach. The Aim works by sending currents through your muscles and fat to determine how much fat you have and how high-quality your muscles are. (Some muscles are just better than others.) You don’t wear the Aim, although you can carry it around with you in an accompanying pouch if you’d like. The device is available to pre-order for $149 or will retail for $200 this fall.

ce activite

A wearable with class

Withings used CE Week to launch their latest smartwatch, the Activité, an activity tracker that looks more like a sophisticated analog timepiece than a digital pedometer. The fancy French watch is $390, which is far more expensive than any other wrist-worn fitness tracker, but it’s also a Swiss-designed beauty encased in stainless steel with a sapphire glass face and leather strap. So, you know, there are trade-offs. Paired with the Withings Health Mate app for iOS and Android, the Activité will let you set activity goals and display the percentage you’ve completed on the watch’s face. We’re guessing the price point will probably keep the Activité from mass consumer adoption when it’s released this fall, but for fitness enthusiasts craving a little bit of style on their wrists, Withings’ new watch might be it.

ce zazzi

Your bracelet is buzzing

What are smartwatches if not glorified notification centers? (At least in their current form.) For ladies and gents who want their missed phone calls delivered on a wearable with a little more style, Zazzi’s smart jewelry is here. The company offers an e-ink display that can be swapped in and out of a cuff, pendant, or cocktail ring. Each notification is denoted by an image of your choosing, either from stock photos or an image uploaded from your camera roll. The notifications are pretty basic—Zazzi isn’t competing with Samsung, here—but more conducive to small wrists than Samsung’s brick-like Galaxy Gear. Zazzi is currently in talks with a major carrier to stock smart jewelry in stores, but the company is currently crowdfunding jewelry pre-orders starting at $169.

healbe gobe2

The controversial winner

Healbe walked away from CE Week with a Battle of the Bands win under its belt. Despite not really showing how its “automatic body manager,” the GoBe, works, Healbe won over the crowds at the CE Week wearables competition with its promise of calorie-counting magic. The company claims its wearable can track your calorie intake, heart rate, stress, and hydration levels with an impedance sensor, accelerometer, and piezoelectric sensor. The sensors then transmit your data to your iPhone or Android device. Those claims have been met with skepticism at best, but Healbe has found a slew of supporters willing to shell out cash up-front to back the GoBe on Indigogo. The device is expected to begin shipping in September.

ce pulseon

Push yourself

PulseOn is an ultra-simple, wrist-worn heart rate monitor for serious athletes that spun off from Nokia two years ago. The company says you’d normally need to wear a chest trap to measure your heart rate as accurately as its device can. PulseOn doesn’t just show your heart rate—the device’s corresponding app also gives you a bigger picture of your workouts, like if your early morning run wasn’t intense enough to help you lose weight. Eventually, the app will be able to display your monthly progress, and even chart a year’s worth of training. The PulseOn is available to pre-order for $169 with delivery expected this September. It will retail for $199 at launch this fall.

ce wellograph

Form and function

Like Withings, Wellograph is focusing more on style than on hardcore fitness, though the Bluetooth smartwatch has all the usual elements, like a heart rate monitor, activity tracker, and pedometer, baked in. The Wellograph also tells you how long you’ve been sitting, to encourage you to move more and be generally less lazy. The domed sapphire crystal face is encased in aluminum with a dark leather band—the look is altogether Apple-esque. And it’s one of the few wearables that pairs with Windows Phone, an OS agnosticism that could benefit the $349 Wellograph when it starts shipping next month.