Wearable tech: 5 wristbands that will change your life

In a market of overkill, we pick five wearable tech wristbands that are worth investing in.

Neil Churchill April 14, 2015


Cicret claims to be 'the next step of wearable technology' and after watching the above video, we're inclined to agree. The French company behind the bracelet says it works exactly like a tablet device does, but on your skin and without a smartphone needed in your pocket. Forget touch screen, this is touch skin.

Worn on the wrist, the orange band (it will come in 10 different colours) projects a user interface onto the forearm of the wearer. When you go to touch something on the 'screen', your finger will break one of eight long-range proximity sensors, sending the information back to the processor within the bracelet, executing the desired action. Check emails, scroll the latest news, watch a video or get directions all on your arm. You can answer a phone call on loud speaker if your handset is out of reach, and the bracelet is even waterproof - as displayed a little creepily in the video by it being used in the bath.

Inside there is a memory card and ROM, accelerometer, processor, vibrator, micro usb port, proximity sensor, wifi and bluetooth. The French company says the bracelet will work on any skin colour and bright daylight won't pose any visibility problems - good to know in the GCC. Currently in the prototype stage, Cicret needs 850,000 euros - about AED 3.3 million - to cover development and legal validations. Interested? Visit cicret.com.

UP3 by Jawbone

Fitness and health wristbands are probably the most used and relatable wearable tech out there. From when Nike first launched its FuelBand in 2012 there have been regular entries into the market at such a rate that it's been hard to keep up with them all. Jawbone has been one of the more successful attempts and its latest product UP3 is one of the most advanced wristbands on the market.

Packed with state-of-the-art sensors, UP3 is a multi-sensor activity tracker that provides in-depth information on your health and fitness. Inside its stylish slim design is a multi-sensor platform that collects and analyses a range of biometric signals, which it then relays to you in actionable and specific insights. It measures your resting heart – a key indicator of your overall health – automatically recognises workouts and logs them, has sophisticated skin and ambient temperature sensors and even tracks your stages of sleep and feeds back suggestions on how to maximise and improve your quality of rest.

Wireless synching, splash-proof, idle alert, smart alarm and a full week of battery life before recharging, the UP3 begs the question of why wouldn't you have one, rather than why you would. Price: AED 660.

Withings Activité Pop

Wearable tech bracelets are not for everyone, mainly because even the most sleek designs are hardly subtle additions to your accessories collection. But that's where Withings Activité Pop comes into its own, because its designed to look like a normal wristwatch. In fact it is a wristwatch, it tells you the time just as any analogue timepiece does. But it's far from normal.

Behind its non-offensive facade is some clever tech that helps keep track of sleep cycles and fitness regimes, and syncs your daily data to your smartphone in an instant. It logs your daily exercise and calories burned, how many steps you take per day, how you sleep at night and wakes you up by vibrating. Users can travel the world and the Activité Pop instantly syncs to the new timezone. It doesn't have any high-tech functions on the watch/wristband itself, everything is done via the app on your smartphone.

The trade-off for this slim wristband/watch is that it's not massive on the tech side. It doesn't have half the fun and useful tools that a Jawbone device does for example. But that's its USP - a subtle, gentlemanly watch that helps with the basics of your fitness and sleeping patterns. It doesn't overcomplicate things. Price: 550.

Embrace by Empatica

While the majority of popular wristbands centre on the fitness or music market, ask any expert in the wearable tech sector and they will tell you that the future lies in medical health. Empatica is a start-up company that makes wearable devices to track biological signals and its Embrace wristband product has - at the time of writing - raised a whopping $659,840 on crowd-funding site IndieGoGo - 514 per cent of its original target.

Embrace is built for people with epilepsy as it detects seizures and alerts family or friends. It recognises certain motion data from its accelerometer and gyroscope and combines it with levels of skin conductance - when your stress levels rise, your skin becomes a great conductor of electricity. Meanwhile, small electrodes on the inside of the band pass a current through your skin to measure the stimulation of the sweat glands. If all those things detect a seizure, the band will send an alert to the phones of your chosen list of people. It's not solely for the epilepsy market though, as it can also apply to people who suffer from stress.

While it's certainly a wristband, its sleek design has a familiar watch look and can function as one too, with coloured lights indicating hour and minute hands. It can also track movement and sleep patterns. Out this summer for an expected retail price of around AED 730.

Wearable tech wristband Atlas. Atlas

If you're looking for a wristband that is all fitness and nothing else then Atlas is one of the most advanced out there. A fitness tracker that does a whole lot more than just measuring steps, the Atlas wristband counts your reps, calculates the calories burned during exercise and evaluates your form - its algorithms learn, detect and track your different exercises.

It can even tell the difference between a regular push-up and a triangle push-up. Its real USP however is its 50-metres of water resistance, meaning when you go swimming it can go with you, and track your performance. Not only does it track the number of laps you do, it also registers the type and number of strokes and the muscle groups used, while a smart timer analyses your endurance.

The more you use it the better it becomes too. The technology used breaks down the analytics gathered during exercise and sets new targets to get you closer to your goals. It's a wonderful, hi-tech, fitness-centric circle of technology. Price: AED 915.