The Future of Wearables Is to Be Re-Made in China

Reports in January indicated that wearable tech gadgets, particularly smart watches, were of no interest to Chinese counterfeiters. Given a few months and it now appears that big-name Chinese manufacturers could be at the heart of wearables adoption.

Mobile phone maker Xaiomi announced the Mi Band fitness wearable along with the Mi 4 smartphone unveiled in July, priced at a RMB 79 ($12), putting it well below the current $50-$90 price of most branded fitness wearables in Europe and North America. This comes alongside Acer’s Liquid Leap and Baidu’s expected moves in the sector, potentially paired with the search giant’s already extensive stack of user data.

And these aren’t all low-end offerings either. The Mi Band looks to include security features that are a step above what current wearables offer, as well as claiming 30 days of battery life on a full charge. Chinese PC maker Lenovo has announced a smart glasses prototype with a neck-mounted battery, as well as being a distribution partner for enterprise-focused Vuzix M100 smart glasses. Fitbit also announced expansion into China at the beginning of June, with a selection of devices tailored to that market’s preferences.

These devices and business moves are, if successful, set to redefine wearables capabilities and bring them to a wider audience than China itself. Traditionally very much an inward-looking technology market, the companies involved in these wearables developments are much more likely to look to expand elsewhere once they’ve had success at home. And that could redefine what passes as standard in the currently very US-centric wearables market.