Consumer Reports put wearable technology to the test

7 On Your Side and Consumer Reports have teamed up exclusively for a report on wearable technology.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
You've probably heard of wearable technology -- high-tech watches, bracelets and glasses that do everything from track your steps to connect you to the Internet. So are these gadgets worth the cash? Consumer Reports has partnered exclusively with 7 On Your Side to find out.

Seventy-nine percent of cellphone users keep their phones with them for all but two of their waking hours. That's according to a new survey by the technology research company IDC. But tech companies think they have something you'll depend on 24 hours a day.

You can wear them on your wrist, on your neck, and even on your face. They can help you check your e-mail, check your pulse, and check directions. They're wearable technology, and they're gaining in popularity. But are they the next big thing or just a passing trend?

"Wearable tech is still very new, but we really think it's going to take off. A lot of big companies are jumping in the game like Samsung, LG, Motorola, and maybe even Apple," said Carol Mangis, Consumer Reports.

Smart watches are one of the fastest growing categories. Users can get e-mail, text, and phone call notifications all on their wrist, without having to pull out their cell phone.

"It allows me to at a glance tell if something is important enough to stop and take care of now or forget until later, or not pay attention to at all," said Matt Safford, Pebble smart watch user.

Consumer Reports is developing tests for wearable devices, including smart watches and activity trackers that count steps and track and log calories. So far, the highest-rated tracker is the $100 Fitbit One. It's very accurate and allows users to see their progress in real time, without connecting to a computer. Wearable tech continues to evolve.

"The first devices we saw were kind of clunky, but that's changing. For example, this Misfit Shine activity tracker, you can wear it around your neck, your wrist, or even your ankle," said Mangis.

Popular fashion designers are starting to get in the mix, including Tory Burch, who now makes accessories to hold a Fitbit and Diane Von Furstenberg has designed frames for Google Glass. Consumer Reports has been checking out this wearable, which is still in beta testing, and says it is certainly an innovative product. But starting at $1,500, more of a novelty than a must have.

Consumer Reports says we should expect to see a lot more wearable tech in the run up to the holidays. Already in the works: high-tech socks that track your steps, speed, and running technique. And a ring that can make a phone call or change TV channels with the wave of a hand.

Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union. Both Consumer Reports and Consumers Union are not-for-profit organizations that accept no advertising. Neither has any commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site.

(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2014. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)
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