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It's Still Early Days for Wearable Tech Craze

08/01/2014 15:01 GMT | Updated 10/03/2014 09:59 GMT

Wearable tech is hot on the lips of every attendee at the 2014 CES, which is underway in Las Vegas. But with smartwatches having so far failed to capture our imaginations, manufacturers could have their work cut out to convince us we should be wearing our gadgets, rather than holding them.

Google Glass might still be out of reach for us non-celebrity average Joes, but this year's Consumer Electronics Show has proved there are plenty of other wearable gadgets in the pipeline or already out there - including Heapsylon's Sensoria smart socks for fitness freaks. At £100 a pair, they can calculate stride length and monitor the foot's impact with the ground.

We'll overlook the fact that a similar service is already available in specialist trainer shops, free of charge, because socks with built-in foot sensors would no doubt pique the interest of both amateur and professional runners - even if they can't boil wash them after a muddy run through the park.

Then there's Bluetooth-enabled jewellery. CSR has designed pendants that flash when the wearer gets smartphone notifications.

Trouble is they don't look all that pretty, which defeats the purpose of trying to design aesthetically-pleasing, as well as wearable, tech. Plus, if you've ever owned a BlackBerry you'll know that red flashing light that alerts users to new emails is irritating - very irritating.

Epson, better known for making printers, has also launched a rival to Google Glass called Moverio, which allows the wearer to watch 3D films and access apps and content. On the downside, you'll have to be content with looking as heavily bespectacled as Brains from Thunderbirds.

What we should be getting excited about is the wearable technology showcased that has health and social benefits. Intel has revealed designs for a smartwatch that can help parents track the whereabouts of young children via an accompanying geo-fencing app. And it doesn't need to be tethered to a smartphone. The tech giant has also come up with earbuds that play music while also monitoring the wearer's heart rate.

Gadgets will need to become more ergonomic - just look at curved TV screens designed to better suit a human field of vision - but many of the gadgets that surface at the CES are just fatally flawed prototypes. And, actually, that's half the fun of it.

Wearable tech has to be 'can't-live-without-it' useful and look good. What the CES 2014 has taught us is that it's not easy to meet both criteria.