Fitbits. Jawbones. Garmin. These are all examples of wearables designed to track our health and activity levels, as well as alert and remind us to do stuff. From smart watches to smart glasses, wearable technology makes up a burgeoning market today: that of Internet of Things (IoT) personal devices. You wear these devices on your body — most notably, your wrist — to get up-to-the-second updates on everything to do with your health, from heart rate to steps taken.
Wearables represent a critical transformation in the world of technology that is breaking through the barriers of simple computer screens and utilizing technology you can put on in the morning when you’re getting dressed. No cumbersome laptops, no annoying connections to charging cords, and best of all — they’re light weight. Not much heavier than a normal watch. These devices are part of a large money-making opportunity for technology companies, with the sale of wearables slated to increase from 275 million units in 2016 to 477 million units in 2020 — a $61.7 billion revenue opportunity, according to Gartner.
What to Expect in 2017/2018
There are many new types of wearables on the horizon for 2017, ranging from biometric authentication and mobile health monitoring to virtual personal assistants (VPAs) and smart coaching. Here are just a few more examples of what’s coming to store shelves in the next two years:
- Energy-boosting using harvesting
- Embedded security
- Conformal electronics
- Virtual and augmented reality
- Accurate motion recognition
- Wearable processors
What Types of Technology to Look For
Because this is such a competitive market, technology providers are looking for ways to stand out. There are many ways they can achieve that in order to boost the user experience and make the most impact in a business sense. One area is in battery life. Right now, this is a concern among wearables users. If battery life can be extended to ensure the user has a superior, hassle-free experience, this could be a game changer in the IoT arena.
Another area of improvement is security. With data breaches in the news nearly every day, security is understandably a big concern for users. Decreasing the possibility for confidential data exposure is something many technology providers are implementing in their new devices.
Of course, improvements on design are always an area of focus. Smart watches are the most popular form of wearables right now, but the intention is to move into less obvious forms such as bio patches and electronic skin. As mentioned above, the ability to immerse the user in the technology through augmented reality and virtual reality will also be an important factor. Hand in hand with that is the ability to incorporate object and movement tracking in an effort to boost sensor accuracy.
As they seek firmer footing in a changing marketplace, today’s technology providers will push for smaller sizes, more lightweight solutions, less conspicuous construction, and more advanced designs.
In my next blog, I’ll explore why wearables aren’t just good for individuals; they’re also sought after by employers. Research shows a return on investment by companies promoting the use of wearables as part of their health and wellness programs.