From false nail phones to eyewear cameras: The new wearables are here

Some new developments in wearable tech this week have shown how more companies are launching products, or at least prototypes, that get closer to the idea of what wearable tech’s true potential is.

Forget fitness bands, O2 and Nails Inc have unveiled Mobile Nails, a false nail that can be used as a phone as the mobile phone network operator also predicts that the human body will be able to replace traditional handsets by 2049.

The nails-as-a-phone concept is just that – a concept, but it can be seen (for this week only) at Harvey Nichols in London and certainly highlights the potential of wearables beyond fitness bands and smartwatches.

It comes as O2 publishes its ‘Future of Mobility Report’ in a link with ‘futurologist’ Dr Ian Pearson and says that the next 30 years will see closer integration between human bodies and tech.

That could mean miniature embedded sensors inside the skin near nerve endings, ‘smart’ contact lenses  and a host of other innovations that could change the nature of human interactions. One example quoted is a meeting held via VR where participants on different sides of the planet could virtually shake hands and feel it as a physical sensation.

Another is the idea of using artificial intelligence to analyse data to tell someone whether their first date is going well or badly.

And supporting its predictions, O2 said a survey of 2,000 people showed that 66% of people think tech advances will make life easier, while 26% are “very excited” by the prospect.

So is any of this close to happening? Not quite. As mentioned, the nail phone is just a concept. But we are seeing more interesting wearable tech launches such as the Beam button we covered last week, or this one, Acton’s new Ace Eyewear.

This is a pair of specs with a handsfree camera “to shoot photos and videos on-the-go”.

Now we all know that one of the issues with the ambitious Google Glass project was privacy due to its photography capabilities. But product and tech firms clearly haven’t abandoned the idea of eyewear that can shoot video and take snaps.

This new development claims to be “the first tech glasses to put fashion first, utilising a built-in camera to instantly capture and stream moments to Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and more.”

The company, which makes electric skateboards, skates and outdoor connected devices, has released information about Ace ahead of CES next month and we expect plenty more wearable launches at the show.

Acton said that “with a built-in, hands-free camera, the glasses prioritise style, so users can look fashionable while taking photos and videos that they can instantly stream to their social media pages.”

Company founder Peter Treadway added: “Tech-enabled sunglasses have so much potential, but haven’t fully taken off yet because they haven’t been designed with style in mind to look like glasses that people actually want to wear.”

The company said it’s targeting travellers, athletes, concert-goers, bloggers and “all types of adventure-seeking Millennials.”

It said: “Finding your phone and prepping your camera is time consuming and takes you out of the moment, so Ace was designed to capture memories with a single touch of an inconspicuous button to keep users engaged in their surroundings.”

OK, there are still issues here. Artists and venue owners might not be happy about its targeting of concert-goers and there’s still the privacy problem. But Acton’s speciality of electric skateboards signals that the daredevil in all of us is more of its core market than the voyeur. And at least it moves wearables on from yet another fitness band…

Know what’s next. Become a WGSN member today to benefit from our daily trend intelligence, retail analytics, consumer insights and bespoke consultancy services.