Battle of the Smart Bands

This week I’ll be taking two Smart Bands out for a test drive in the hopes of finding out which one is better! The two bands that are battling it out are as follows, the Microsoft Band and the Sony Smartband Talk SWR30.

The Microsoft Band launched in the UK not so long ago and I’ve already really enjoyed using the device. I’ve been a user for about 4 weeks now and I’ve got to say I’m impressed by how accurate it seems to be with regards to its fitness tracking features.

The Sony Smartband Talk has a lot to live up to, but I like what I’ve seen from the Lifelog app. Combined with a nice looking e-ink display and talk functions for taking phone calls, I’m sure Sony is going to stand its ground in this weeks arena!

Stay tuned for my thoughts and feelings on both devices next Monday when I’ll have had a good length of time to really see what they are both capable of.

In the meantime feel free to check out my initial thoughts regarding the Microsoft Band in the video below.

My Virtual Experience

Its been a week now since I started playing with my Oculus Rift and I’ve got to say I’m more than a little impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Of course my feelings are mixed, but I can safely say that I cannot wait to see some finalised consumer products hitting the market.

 
The Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2 isn’t meant for consumers, but I wanted to give it a go anyway. So far my experience has been amazing, but VR sickness is a very real thing (as you can tell if you watch my gameplay videos)

 
Its been a while since any form of technology blew me away, but when you find yourself in a piece of software optimised and made to work in VR, you’re in for a real treat. Playing games that aren’t made for VR is intriguing, but it’s not a great experience. I tried to force games like Skyrim and GTA V to work in VR and even got them running, but things just didn’t look right and I couldn’t get that sense of presence everyone who uses VR talks about.

 
I moved on to try games and software made with VR in mind like Elite Dangerous and that’s when the fun began. Suddenly I was in a world I felt a part of. While sat in my spaceship I felt as though I could really reach out and touch the controls or interact with my ship. The feeling is just breathtaking.

 
It was this kind if gaming experience that made me believe that VR can be the next big step in gaming. On the flip side, using other demos available, I also came to the realisation that VR is going to be huge in other areas such as education and communication.

 
Walking around virtual museums, or taking a tour around locations around the world in the Rift is pretty impressive. Watching a huge virtual cinema screen is another big win. Unfortunately due to the low resolution of the developer kit these things aren’t perfect, but once the consumer version lands I can imagine myself using VR to replace things like TV’s and monitors.

 
The possibilities of VR are endless, and although the technology isn’t quite there yet, using the Rift has made me realise how close we are and what a massive potential the technology has.

 
I have to wonder, especially since my background stems from retail, what the impact of VR will be on online shopping. As these devices become mainstream I’ll be interested to see what companies get onboard and transform their online shopping experience.

 
Imagine being able to slip on your VR headset and walk around a virtual store and interact with the products. The sales staff, instead of being webchat advisors, would be real people using a VR headset themselves, interacting with you in your online session.

 
If this is done right it really could revolutionise how we shop online, but also help to bridge the gap between online shopping and high street retail. Most people might think this is a long way off, but I think it’s a lot closer than we believe.

 
So in conclusion VR is amazing! The time with my Rift has blown me away and left me a true believer in the technology. As I said, its been a long time since any form of technology really impressed me and now I can’t wait to see the final product.

Feel free to check out my two VR gaming videos!

 

Wearable Tech

So wearable tech seems to be all the rage right now. We have Google Glass just around the corner and wrist watches that pair up with our smartphones. Despite the torrent of new devices flooding the market I’m yet to be blown away by any.

There’s a few nice little devices I’ve played with. I’m intrigued by Samsung’s Galaxy Gear but it’s lack of compatibility is pretty disappointing. It’s got a whole range of features but I really don’t fancy changing my phone just to use a smart watch. I’ve had a good play with the Gear and it’s a very responsive device. The camera is pretty good quality but I can’t understand why it doesn’t just have a front facing camera instead? I’m sure Samsung will address the devices short comings with the Galaxy Gear 2 and hopefully throw in some compatibility with other devices.

On the other hand we have Sony’s Smart Watch which is compatible with most Android devices but it lacks features. It’s really a fancy second screen for your smartphone with no real ability to interact with whats happening on your device. You get a notification and in order to interact you have to pull out your smartphone. Pointless really.

I’ve just backed the Neptune Pine on Kickstarter. It’s a nice looking device with loads of potential. It can do pretty much everything my smartphone can but it is a little large. It can be used as a phone thats strapped to your wrist or you can download a companion app onto your smartphone and use the Neptune Pine as a feature packed smart watch. It’s a powerful little beast and packs a front facing camera so video calls on the go could get interesting. I’ll get my device sometime in January so I’ll write a review on it when it arrives.

2013 hasn’t been a fantastic year for wearable tech but I believe 2014 will see a massive range of devices storming into the market and hopefully they will be far better than what we have on offer right now.