Forget smartwatches, consumers are buying these replacement wearables


In 2015, the same year Apple She inserted her smart watcha Kickstarter campaign launched for an entirely different kind of wearable: a wellness tracker called Oura.

Seven years later, the Apple Watch is the version The most popular wearable device While other similar products from Google and Samsung too Dominate the wearables market. But one thing worth noting: Products like Oura, which sometimes look markedly different from mainstream wearables and sometimes work, are gaining renewed traction.

CEO Tom Hill told CNN Business that the Oura ring ($399) has seen sales skyrocket during the pandemic, and has seen continued momentum this holiday season. It provides sleep tracking data without having to wear a smartwatch to sleep and can detect subtle changes in body temperature. It also does not have a screen. Earlier this year, the company announced that it had received worth $2.55 billion and has since partnered with Gucci, Strava, and other brands.

The Loop is among a small but increasingly noisy group of alternative wearables that people are gravitating towards right now, including a screen-less fitness band tracker and headphones that don’t need to be put in the ear. Some of the demand stems from shifts during the pandemic, as consumers are more interested in monitoring health. People have turned to activity trackers, smartwatches, and other devices to keep track of their steps, vital statistics, and more. Many were also willing to experiment with different form factors, as long as they provided accurate data and were still comfortable—a trend that continues today.

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“The funny thing is most of these devices have been around for a while but have slowly built a name for themselves in recent quarters,” said Ramon Lamas, director of research at IDC Research. “But word of mouth takes time to spread.”

Devices may also benefit from wanting the benefits of wearable trackers without necessarily having a screen or device on their body at all times.

Take the WHOOP bar, a screenless health tracker that debuted in 2015. It focuses very specifically on exercise recovery, rest time, training, and training. Founder and CEO Will Ahmed told CNN Business that this year’s Cyber ​​Monday was its biggest sales day ever.

“It wasn’t that long ago that people would only wear a health monitor if something was wrong. Now, we’re seeing people take a more proactive approach to their health,” he said. “This trend has continued even as the epidemic subsided.”

Like Oura, it is WHOOP A subscription-based device aimed at a more niche audience. It’s pricey, too: $480, including a two-year subscription plan.


“The challenge is that most of these devices are vying for single-digit market share behind the market leaders, [such as Apple and Samsung]said the lama. “This is why it is important to have a well-featured segment that you can serve almost exclusively with. Companies like WHOOP have been successful because they focus on athletes being well rested and recovered, and those are key factors for many athletes today.”

Ahmed said the product is evolving to support this growing interest in health by adding new features related to pregnancy, stress and deeper vital monitoring. In August, WHOOP announced it Raised $200 million in a funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund 2, giving the company a valuation of $3.6 billion.

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Health trackers keep taking on new shapes and sizes, too, including some that don’t require you to wear them at all. In September, Amazon showed off a non-wearable sleep-tracking monitor. Hala Rice, which sits on a table and tracks breathing patterns while the user sleeps. Meanwhile, some companies like Withings allow users Slip sensors under the mattress to collect sleep data.

There is also a shift in demand what can be said One of the original wearables: headphones.

According to Steve Koenig, head of research for the Consumer Electronics Association, bone conduction headphones, which like Oura have been around for years, are “having a moment.” Instead of sitting in or above the ear canal, bone conduction headphones sit in front of the ear and leave it exposed. They transmit sound along the user’s cheekbones and jaw to the ears rather than directly through the ear canal. The headphones also feature a soft strap that runs behind the top of the neck to hold it in place and reduce sound distortion.

Shockz bone conduction headphones.

At the same time, the exposed ear allows users to pick up the sounds and environment around them, which is essential for safety when doing activities such as riding a bike or jogging. Unlike earbuds, there’s also less worry about them sticking out of your ears.

shoes ($125) was the pioneer of bone conduction headphones, but the market has since expanded with other brands offering similar designs. Open-ear headphones — like those made by Sony and Bose — feature a similar design that leaves the ear canals completely open so the user can hear outside noise. But some audiophiles say that the sound quality of bone conduction headphones and open-ear headphones is lower than that of the headphones.

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“In the past 10 years, overall audio innovation has skyrocketed due to the introduction of new features, such as noise-canceling technology, built-in wireless capabilities, and more,” Koenig said. “Now, people have multiple pairs of personal listening products for different locations and use cases; some leave them in the office, others prefer the larger, sleeker ones on airplanes. They also make a great gift for the holidays because, in the grand scheme of gift-giving, it makes a little sense. buy it.”

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