CES 2016 was the first public showing of what Samsung’s Creative Lab was up to last year. Think of Creative Lab like Google X; it’s a place where moonshots manifest. There’s no idea too big or too weird for these R&D shops, which makes them particularly exciting. Their ideas are supposed to be futuristic, and even unrealistic. Samsung showed off a few ideas, but the most innovative and exciting was, without a doubt, TipTalk.
TipTalk is a strap that turns your regular watch into a smartwatch. The strap can be attached to nearly any smartwatch and tracks your steps, vibrates to deliver notifications and even uses bone conduction to let you listen to calls by placing your hand to your ear (although unfortunately, this feature doesn’t work so well yet).
One of biggest issues with today’s smartwatches is design. People who currently wear watches think of them as status symbols. No matter how hard Apple or Motorola try, a Rolex is still a Rolex. While some watch manufacturers are getting into the smartwatch game, it’s going to take some time. Samsung, maker of its own line of smartwatches, thought that there must be a way to preserve the integrity of these timeless devices and deliver next-generation tech. That may mean sacrificing the strap, but the hybrid could be popular with purists.
TipTalk promises to be affordable if it launches, and could easily make wearables accessible. There’s no word on exact pricing, but we do know that the strap is promising seven days of battery life. That alone makes TipTalk less cumbersome than today’s offerings. We may never see TipTalk become a reality, but it’s fun to imagine a future where any watch can get a little smarter while staying decidedly old school.
Smart Belts Are Coming
Who says wearables need to be worn on your wrist? Samsung knows that not everyone wants to wear a watch every day, so what could they make smart that most people never leave the house without? While most clothes (should) be swapped out every day, people generally only have a single belt or two in their rotation. In a “it’s so obvious, it’s genius” move, Creative Lab has made a smart belt. Thankfully, it looks exactly like a normal belt. Unfortunately, it’s called the Welt (a combination of “wellness” and “belt”). Looking past the name, the belt promises to track your steps and your waistline.
A New Way to Control VR
Samsung already offers its own VR headset powered by your cell phone, but at CES, they debuted a new VR controller. Called Rink, the two controllers look like they’re wrapped around the top of your hands. Paired with a special attachment for the Gear VR (similar to a Microsoft Kinect), the Rink can track your fingers individually. The Rink may not be ready for prime time based on first impressions, but Samsung will definitely need its own set of controllers if it’s serious about VR.