Epson may be best known in the U.S. for its inkjet printers, but you wouldn't even know they made any from the company's CES press event.
There was nary an inkjet to be found during Epson's presentation, which focused mainly on fitness-centric wearables. While the company didn't announce any completely new hardware at CES 2015, it is bringing some more devices to the U.S. market under a new brand dubbed "Epson Active."
Leading the charge is Epson's Runsense watch, which has built-in GPS and can measure the frequency and length of runners' strides. Users can then customize their runs through a companion app, and the watch will help them keep the correct pace as they move between faster and slower intervals. The basic Runsense starts at $249, while a $299 model adds vibration alerts and the ability to fully customize the length of each running interval. A version of Runsense with heart rate monitoring will cost $349. They'll be available within the first half of the year.
Epson is also bringing over its M-Tracer golf analysis device from Japan, which has been its sole outlet up to now. The $199 device clips onto golf clubs and uses a gyroscope and accelerometer to measure the angle, speed and path of a swing. The M-Tracer's companion app then provides heaps of data on each swing, but little in the way of actionable advice. As such, the device is aimed mainly at serious golfers and trainers for now, and will launch in the next few months.
Epson's existing Pulsense fitness tracker is getting thrown under the Epson Active umbrella, though this device is already on the market. It lacks the GPS tracking of Runsense, but it uses a heart rate monitor to measure pacing. A $130 version uses simple LED indicators to show workout intensity, while a $200 version has a basic display that shows heart rate and time.
Why this matters: Epson has no shortage of competition, with new GPS watches from Fitbit, Garmin and others. While Epson's fitness wearables are light on whiz-bang features, they may appeal to runners who want help keeping the pace during workouts. Besides, it's not hard to imagine a time when even a niche slice of the wearable market proves more lucrative than selling inkjets.