What you need to know about the future of wearable technology
At present, wearable technology is one of the fastest growing industries. Devices that were once used to simply track fitness, are now being used and applied to different domains and industries from monitoring fitness performance to navigation and GPS tracking…
I love technology but the release of the latest Apple tech and devices, including the iWatch Series 4, left me immensely underwhelmed. Being the Managing Director of my own company for the last 9 years, I have seen different types of technology and software come and go. At present, wearable technology is one of the fastest growing industries. Devices that were once used to simply track fitness, are now being used and applied to different domains and industries from monitoring fitness performance to navigation and GPS tracking. Like smartphones and laptops, wearable technology is becoming a huge part of the consumer tech landscape. Ideas and designs that were once thought of as something too futuristic, are becoming more like reality.
As consumer demand grows and designs become more progressive, the wearable tech market is becoming greater, more defined and also a threat to bigger existing types of technology that are omnipresent in our lives. Tech companies are jumping at the chance to sell consumers the next best thing, whether that be another fitness tracker, a smart ring that tracks sleep or smart fitness clothing.
The rise in wearable technology has a large scope to improve the ways in which we live our lives, with the future of wearables becoming whatever we are wearing right now. Here are some of the latest wearables I’ve been looking into recently with a keen interest to work in these fields.
Invisibly Smart – Wearable Technology
Smart clothes have quickly become within reach of the everyday consumer and are slowly becoming the norm. These smart clothes are grabbing the attention of brands at every market level to be more open to the ideas of smart clothes. Smart clothing, like many wearable tech products, is a solution to a specific problem. However, as technology becomes more accessible, consumers are becoming more aware of what they want from smart clothes. Temperature control and tech that fits invisibly into our clothing are two things that will become more prevalent and desirable by consumers.
These wearable technologies are incorporated and disguised into everyday clothing. Companies such as Samsung sell smart suits that enable phone functions to be controlled by a swipe. Smart belts are now on the market that can track activity and loosen itself after a heavy meal.
Some of the early adopters of wearable technology are those within the active clothing market. The USPs of active tech knuckle down to a few main priorities; accuracy, scope, fit and style. Companies such as Athos are selling smart fitness clothing. These products can measure heart rate and muscle activity in real-time to provide a 360-degree view of the body’s performance on a synced app. A key product that is also on the rise females-focused wearable such as smart bras which can record breathing rhythm and effort.
Although smart fitness clothing is already on the rise, there is scope for companies to start to tailor specific smart clothing to specific sports. The potential to have leggings for specific sports such as sprint training or powerlifting is extensive and could transform the industry.
New solutions for specific functionality and usability needs of wearables is developing as the wearable market develops as a whole. The one of first Braille smartwatch, Dot, was created for visually impaired people around the world. The watch uses mechanically raised dots on the watch face to communicate texts and tweets. As it uses Braille, the watch doesn’t just provide the user with the time but also notifications. As most watches are completely useless to the visually impaired and telling the time is something that most people take for granted, the development of Braille smartwatches provides more inclusive design for a simple task telling the time.
The Power of UI
The potential and scope for interface and app platform designs is huge. This is the place where users access data, make decisions and get the most value out of the product. The personalisation and customisation of these platforms is becoming more advanced, and as AI is also becoming more progressive, users will have more control over how their wearables talk to them. Tech is becoming more intimate and is starting to take up the role of a users personal assistant. Data visualisation is becoming more important for companies in order to display the data in a way that is useful to the user and in a format that is easy to understand. If people understood calories and data about food intakes in a way they understand how many steps should be taking a day, then surely they would improve their own health? The move to zero UI concepts is also becoming more prevalent in the development of wearables. Advancements in voice command and machine learning is making this human like interaction easier and more natural.
The development of wearables is becoming a huge part of our everyday lives. Embeddables are the next big thing when it comes to the future of wearables. Technology that is inserted under the skin can provide long-lasting functionality. A very small percentage of today’s population who are embracing embeddable technology. In the same way people swipe cards to enter a building or to pay for shopping, embeddable chips can be used with a swipe of the hand.
Scary stuff but the scope for the development of wearables and embeddables is huge. The ability to track or record data from around us could be highly beneficial. For medical conditions such as asthma that are putting strain on the NHS, the idea of developing a detector to track the amount of pollution that we are being exposed to and the hotspots for exposure could be provide a breakthrough solution. For parents, like myself, who drop their children of at nursery and school, the number of cars, and hence pollution, surrounding the school gates is worrying.