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Charged: Indie Wearable Tech Brands
Alternative innovations in the ever-expanding industry from tot-trackers to headphones
by Kat Herriman
on 27 May 2014

As companies like Nike, Google, and Apple rush to be at the forefront of wearable technology, a group of startups and tech incubators are making a strong case for why consumers may need to look elsewhere for the next big thing. With products emerging for everything from t-shirts that monitor your workout in real-time to diapers that can identify early signs of health issues for parents, there is an overwhelming feeling that designers and engineers are on the brink of something extraordinary. And, while a lot of these technologies are restricted to beta-testing and conceptual conferences, the companies who are producing the latest wave of wearables are setting the tone for what’s to come. Here we highlight four of the smart standouts currently available.

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Athos

In a world of pricey personal trainers and designer workouts, Athos provides a real-time solution to improving your already existing routines. Taking preexisting fitness tech a step further, Athos’s revolutionary sensors not only pick up on heart rate and breathing patterns, but also measure muscles' energy expenditure through electromyography (EMG), allowing one to register the effectiveness of their workouts for different muscle groups. Using a credit card–sized core module that slips either into an arm or chest pocket, the seamless network of sensors is able to synthesize and send information to a digestible app via Bluetooth, where the user can see the breakdown of their efforts. Packaged as an unassuming pair of bike shorts and a long-sleeve compression t-shirt, the line offers an unprecedented way to understand your body in action.

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Tinitell

Branded as the tiniest mobile phone, this purposefully petite technology is enabling parents everywhere to breathe easier. Bright and colorful, Tinitell’s durable, waterproof wristphone creates a direct line of communication between kids and their parents through a simple interface. What gained CH’s attention is the voice activation that allows tots to place calls simply by saying names and answer incoming calls with the press of a button. Mind-soothingly simple, parents can manage an account either on their smartphone or online. They can also control what numbers the phone can accept and call. GPS-enabled, the smart bracelet doubles as a tracking device so parents can keep tabs on their child’s position remotely. Play-dates in the park just got that much safer.

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Atlas Wearables

Atlas takes the technology of the fitness bracelets already on the market a step further by enabling users to analyze their form as well as their stats. Once you strap on the sci-fi looking band, the built-in accelerometer feeds constant data into an algorithm that is able to parse out what activity you are doing through its motion signature. Coupled with an optical pulse monitor located on the back of the device, (it determines your level of exertion), feedback is delivered on just how well you are performing each exercise. Designed to educate as well as track, the device feels like a pocket-sized personal trainer.

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MrSpeakers Alpha Dog Headphones

Headphones may be the original wearable technology, but there's still plenty of room for innovation. As new manufacturing techniques become mainstream, companies like MrSpeakers are applying them to create even better sound—as is the case with their latest drop. The first 3D printed models on the market, Alpha Dog headphones offer superior sound quality by taking advantage of the process’s unique lattice structure. Lightweight in comparison to its competitors, the 3D walls offer improved insulation without relying on disrupting, sound-canceling technology. The result is a smart improvement to one of wearable tech's most popular iterations.

Images courtesy of respective brands

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