Wearable tech: 13 new gadgets from CES 2014

In the future, we won't be carrying our tech devices -- we'll be wearing them. Here are some new and upcoming wearable gadgets shown at this year's CES show.

While CES 2014 had some impressive big items on view (such as ), the real story was on a much smaller scale: Wearable technologies, including slim fitness bracelets and reference platforms the size of an SD card.

High on the cool scale: and offered development platforms promising revolutionary future wearables; you could try on wristwear with various price tags and uses; and there were vendors with . (Hint: None of these were Google.)

Read on for some of the most interesting examples of wearable tech we saw.

Vuzix M100 smart glasses

Want to buy smart glasses but aren't cool enough to snag a Glass invite from Google? The Vuzix M100 claims to be the first commercially shipping smart glasses.

The bad news, if all you want to do is look cool, is that the M100 is really an industrial product, meant for vertical applications like warehousing. Based around the TI OMAP4430 processor and the Android operating system, the M100 can either hang off a set of safety glasses or on a headband. Onboard cameras can capture 5-megapixel stills or 1080i video, and the 240 x 400 display is nicely visible from 14 inches away.

Price: $999 
Available: Now

Avegant Glyph virtual retinal display

The Avegant Glyph uses virtual retinal display (VRD) technology to project images directly onto your retinas. The vendor says it's an eye-strain-free way of seeing video and will work with any HDMI input.

Avegant's first VRD devices looked like science-fair projects, befitting the company's ethos of rapid prototyping. The Avegant Glyph is far more polished. It looks like a big set of audio headphones, but you can lower the headband in front of your eyes and look through a stunning set of retinal displays.

Price: $499 
Available: Later in 2014 (Kickstarter campaign starts January 22)

Epson Moverio BT-200 smart glasses

Most people forgot about Epson just about when dot-matrix printers receded from popular consciousness. That was a mistake, because the company remains a very big player in the OEM world.

At CES, Epson showed its Moverio BT-200 smart-glasses platform, a binocular LCD-projection lens system with compass, gyro and accelerometer built in. It also offers a front-facing camera, an Android 4.0 handheld controller, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 3.0. Epson announced some interesting partners for this technology, including an array of first-person-shooter games and an application that helps paramedics see patients' veins.

Price: $700 
Available: March 2014

Recon Instruments Snow2 ski goggles device

The Snow2 from Recon Instruments is an insert for ski goggles that senses and displays an array of speed and distance metrics and notifications, including text messages, resort maps and buddy tracking.

The device sits at the bottom of the right goggle lens; the company says it looks like a 14-in. image from 5 feet away. The tech is based on what sounds like the WaRPboard platform: an ARM Cortex-A9 processor with accelerometer, gyro and magnetometer, with Bluetooth and GPS. Vendors Smith and Oakley sell goggles with Snow2 already built in.

Price: $399 
Available: Sold out until next ski season

Pebble Steel Bluetooth watch

Pebble made a name for itself last year by shipping a vastly over-subscribed crowdsourced Bluetooth-connected wristwatch. Two problems: The original Pebble watch didn't actually do very much and the look was distinctly geek chic.

The company has addressed the latter with the Pebble Steel, three stainless-steel versions of the classic plastic Pebble for $100 more. Pebble also announced an app store, giving developers a centralized location to sell apps that follow the company's updated APIs. It should open at the end of this month.

Price: $249 
Availability: January 28, 2014

LG Lifeband Touch wristband

LG Electronics makes humungous curved TVs. It makes dishwashers. And now, it makes wrist-borne fitness trackers. The Lifeband Touch treads familiar ground -- mileage, speed, calories -- with some interesting twists.

There's no clasp; the band is designed to slip on like a bangle. The display is OLED, and it can notify about incoming calls. Paired with LG's Earphone Heart Rate Monitor, the Lifeband can also track your heart rate while you listen to music. It syncs with apps including Polar, Wahoo Fitness, RunKeeper and MyFitnessPal.

Price: $180 
Available: Spring 2014

Polar V800 wristband

Polar's chest-band heart monitors are very well known among serious athletes. Less well-known are Polar's wristwear, which are serious pieces of high-end gear.

At CES, the company unveiled the V800, which it's pitching as an "advanced multisport training computer." The V800 does round-the-clock activity tracking, including GPS and (optionally) heart rate monitoring, which it tracks even while its user is swimming. It's got a large Gorilla Glass display that can show up to four weeks of training data, and syncs via a Bluetooth Smart device to the Polar Flow app and online service. Add-ons are promised for monitoring cycling effort.

Price: $450 ($500 with heart monitor) 
Available: April 2014

Garmin Vivofit wristband

Garmin has long been a big name in GPS and outdoor tech gear, but hasn't been much of a presence in the nascent wearables market. The company is now taking a shot at it with the Vivofit line.

The Vivofit looks a lot like a Fitbit Force, but has a larger display more like a Nike Fuelband. The Vivofit will learn your activity patterns and set new goals for you that increase as you progress. There are two models: one with a heart monitor and one without. Both will sync with Garmin's online fitness community, Garmin Connect.

Price: $130 ($170 with heart monitor) 
Available: First quarter 2014

Magellan Echo wristband

The Magellan Echo takes a very different approach from Garmin's device: It acts simply as a display and controller for fitness apps that run on your phone. The Echo works with apps including Strava, MapMyRun, Wahoo Fitness and iSmoothRun, with more (according to the company) to be announced soon.

One benefit of this approach: The Echo runs off an ordinary CR2032 coin battery. Another benefit: Its relatively low cost.

Price: $150 ($199 with heart monitor)
Available: Now

Heapsylon Sensoria Fitness socks

It seems the logical next step: Put the sensor into the clothes. Except it's hard to do, which is what makes Heapsylon's new device so interesting.

The Sensoria Fitness sock includes textile sensors in the sock's sole that are read by an ankle bracelet; the bracelet, in turn, attaches magnetically to one of the socks. The anklet then communicates with your smartphone, which can be running an app or can send the data into the cloud. The sensors can analyze your stride and cadence -- important for runners. They can also monitor weight and whether the wearer has fallen.

Price: $199 (four pairs of socks, one anklet, one charger, mobile app); extra socks are $29/pair 
Available: March 2014

Intel Edison Development Board

Intel made the biggest wearables splash at CES by unveiling its Edison Development Board. The Edison is built around a dual-core 400MHz Quark processor running Linux (CEO Brian Krzanich called it "Pentium-class," which probably appealed to the older techies in the audience). It will carry an unspecified amount of memory, integrate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and fit on an SD card.

The company also put $1.3 million into a "Make It Wearable" marketing campaign, seeding projects using the Edison platform. As an example, Krzanich showed an instrumented baby onesie, which would sense and transmit metrics -- such as temperature, respiration and the all-important dampness -- to a parent via a coffee cup (of all things).

Price: N/A
Available: Mid-2014

Freescale WaRPboard reference platform

Hardly content to cede a wearables war to Intel, chipmaker Freescale showed off its WaRPboard reference platform at CES. The hardware is built around Freescale's i.MX 6SoloLite processor -- a single-core ARM Cortex A9 running at up to 1GHz with up to 256KB of level-2 cache. Other components include built-in accelerometer, magnetometer and pedometer, along with 4GB of flash memory, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Smart and an LCD display. The platform runs Android 4.3.

The entire kit includes the main board, a daughter card, an LCD display battery and a microUSB cable.

Price: $149 
Available: Second quarter 2014

Novasentis Clic haptic actuator

You won't see a Novasentis Clic haptic actuator on Best Buy shelves, but there's a good chance that it will soon be in many of the wearable products on the market.

The company's electrical-mechanical polymers are thin films, 200 microns thick, that elongate slightly when a small voltage is applied so that the user feels a "click." Similar technology can be used to sense touch and even to play sound. Because it's not necessary to vibrate the entire device to provide haptic feedback and because the voltage requirements are so small, the Clic polymers can drive significant size and cost efficiencies, according to the company.

Price: N/A 
Available: Late January 2014

Dan Rosenbaum, a long-time tech journalist, is editor of Wearable Tech Insider.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.