There’s no shortage of objects to make you bionic at CES. Medical devices, like hearing aids, have been taken to the next level, and there are even silly hats outfitted with lasers that purportedly stimulate hair growth.
But does any device you wear on your body qualify as a “wearable”? The term, which is dumb, most frequently describes activity-focused smartwatches or other wrist bands (and there were a ton of great ones this year). But at CES 2020, there were also plenty of smart objects to wear on other parts of your body that produce information about health, activity, and other functions.
The point of it all is a bit hard to say. Tech companies have run with the idea that turning our bodies into a series of data points is valuable — an assumption I’m skeptical of.
But, if you’re interested in quantifying every burp, breath, and waddle, AND you don’t want to strap yet another smart object to your wrist, boy, did CES ever deliver!
Here are some of the most eye-catching non-wrist-worn wearables at CES 2020.
Xenoma’s Smart Pajamas
I’ve already waxed poetic about Xenoma’s e-skin Sleep & Lounge collection, but this was the standout non-wrist-worn wearable, IMO, mostly because it’s a wearable that’s all about convenienceandbeing comfy.
These PJs are designed for the elderly and dementia patients, because something you have to plug in, charge, and put on every day (like a wristband) is not ideal for that demographic. PJs are just a normal part of your routine — and these ones monitor vital signs, deliver sleep insights, and can trigger emergency calls if they detect that something is wrong.
Welt’s Smart Belt
Welt, a Samsung spin-off company, introduced a smart belt in 2016 that would monitor your weight via your waistline and other metrics. That concept seems pretty rude, TBH. But its new offering, the Smart Belt Pro, provides an additional nagging utility while also looking pretty cool.
The Pro belt has “gait detection,” which means it monitors what your normal walking patterns are like, and assesses how at risk for falling you are. If you start walking at a gait that puts you at risk of falling, an accompanying app will yell at you. Also, it looks pretty sleek: It’s a leather and metal situation, not a tacky fabric belt or anything.
Now you don’t have to nag your elders anymore about using their dang walkers — this smart belt will do it for you!
Willow breast pump
My friends who have become new moms have told me how challenging it can be to pump their breast milk at work or out in public. (At one job, where there was a spate of new moms all at once, there was even a complicated Google doc schedule for who had access to the lone pumping room.) Willow alleviates that stress with its wireless breast pump system that fits under your bra and even works on the go.
The only privacy you’ll need is time and space to put it on. Willow debuted its third generation of the system at CES 2020 with redesigned suction and other internal mechanics, which it says has yielded about 20 percent more milk output. Of course, those stats come thanks to a connected app that pairs to the device via bluetooth.
Most exercise-oriented wearables monitor a lot of the same stuff: heart rate, distance, exercise length, etc. But Nurvv insoles actually tell you detailed information about how you run. They pair with an app that’ll give you tips on improving your form and achieving your running goals.
For example, after getting to know you, it can detect whether you’re landing too much on the front or back of your foot. Or, if your form is fine but you want to improve your time or distance, it will tell you what you need to do to get there — whether that’s to run faster or just increase the distance of your gait. It will communicate all of that through audio cues and haptic feedback paired with a fitness writstband (like an Apple Watch) or headphones in real time. Pretty neat!
Lumi baby monitor
Not all wearables are for you, bud. Lumi is a startup that is actually part of Pampers, which is a Procter & Gamble company (gotta love corporations). It debuted a baby-monitoring system at CES 2020 that works through a wearable attached to a baby’s diaper.
The small device has a velcro back so that you move it from diaper to diaper as a baby needs a change. It connects to an app that monitors environmental information (like temperature and humidity) and sleeping. I like that the app included “hand-off notes” for caregivers, so that it had a record of what your new human had been up to (i.e., sleeping, eating, mostly pooping) before switching off responsibility for this human life.
It also works with a video/camera system; the Lumi team says that the combination of the sensor and the video gives you a full picture of care.
Myant bra, underwear & pregnancy monitor
There were a few smart clothing stalls at CES, but Myant caught my eye because it makes vital sign and activity-sensing wearables that actually go under your clothes. Its underwear and bra set have sensors that steadily record your heart rate and can even be sent to your doctor.
Why wear a bracelet when you can wear underpants?
Myant also had a belly band that goes over a pregnant abdomen.
Its system is able to tell the difference between a fetal heart rate and a mother’s heart beat. So, with the help of this smart clothing, you can know both baby and mom are alright all the time.