WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

November 12, 2016


We hear a great deal these days about wearable technology.  Let’s see if we can get “calibrated” relative to the definition and what devices are available.  First, the definition:

DEFINITION NUMBER 1:

Electronics that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or as part of material used in clothing. One of the major features of wearable technology is its ability to connect to the Internet, enabling data to be exchanged between a network and the device.

DEFINITION NUMBER 2:

A wearable device is a technology that is worn on the human body. This type of device has become a more common part of the tech world as companies have started to evolve more types of devices that are small enough to wear and that include powerful sensor technologies that can collect and deliver information about their surroundings.

Wearable devices are also known as wearable gadgets, wearable technology or simply wearables.

DEFINITION NUMBER 3:

Wearable technology (also called wearable gadgets) is a category of technology devices that can be worn by a consumer and often include tracking information related to health and fitness. Other wearable tech gadgets include devices that have small motion sensors to take photos and sync with your mobile devices.

I’ve given you three definitions although I really don’t like or completely agree with either.  As we delve further into what is available in today’s modern world you will understand where I’m coming from.

Now we tackle trends in wearable technology by looking at the devices available.  This post is a marathon and not a sprint but I think you will be surprised, as was I, when you see the number of possibilities are what consumers are buying. I can’t indicate all hardware available so I have provided a representative sample of what’s out there.

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY:

nuzzle

I’ve started off with man’s best friend because my son’s dog, an Alaskan Husky, frequently decides he wants to explore the “hood”.  He is one of the most elusive “critters” on the planet and loves to avoid capture at all costs.

Part pet tracker and part insurance company; Nuzzle is a GPS collar that goes the extra mile when it comes to looking after your furry friends. This device provides activity monitoring and GPS mapping features alongside data on favorite walks and wellness stats in the companion app.  That app can be downloaded onto your cell phone, laptop or PC.

tom-tom

GPS is integral to proper sports tracking, and TomTom is set to transform itself into a sports brand in 2016.  I enjoy play golf but am certainly not ready for Augusta.  As a matter of fact, I’m not too sure I’ve ever owned a used ball.  They simply don’t last that long.  This device allows you to track your shank or slice so recoverability is possible.

x-metrics

Xmetrics is the hottest swimming wearable and is designed for pros and enthusiasts.  It sits on the back of your head to minimize drag and measures a broader set of bio-mechanics than any other swimming wearable. Between kick-turn times, breath counts, stroke efficiency, all fed back to you in real time audio; it’s a far more detailed and complete platform than anyone’s made before. It should sell big.

the-void

If gaming were any more real, then it would no longer be a game. The Void is a real-life virtual reality (VR) theme park built in Salt Lake City. In beta phase at the moment but opening soon, it’s virtual gaming experiences are superimposed onto a blank maze-like space. The upshot is that all your other senses buy into the vision of your adventure as well as just your eyes. I have no real use for VR or other video experiences but must include this one due to the rising popularity of VR systems.  (A complete waste of time in my opinion.)

life-saving

This one I love.  Wearables’ unique position on the body make them more personal than ever before, and offer the chance for them to become real life savers. Crowdfunded Athena smashed its goal thanks to its promise to protect women via an alarm and GPS alerts. Cheaper sensors also help tech companies build for the developing world. From storing medical records or even warning people about floods and earthquakes, wearables are set to make a difference in 2016.   Our youngest son has a medical condition and early-warning can be big.

fitbit

The big frustration with fitness platforms is that those programs they assign to us are far too general and wearables in 2015 have begun to clue up to this. Moov has already tackled the problem and Fitbit has promised a bigger emphasis on coaching, too.  I have a Fitbit and love it.  It tracks the number of steps per day, the number of stairs climbed and calorie count.

veriley

Once again, a device I love because it gives early warning of impending medical problems. The newly rebranded Google Life Sciences already has ambitious projects, including its glucose-detecting contact lens. Google’s also set to use tech to target cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health problems too.  I have low blood sugar and a device such as this could keep me from issues that would definitely ruin my day.

smary-watch

As smartwatches mature, the need for a constant digital umbilical cord to a smartphone starts to feel a little antiquated. The great separation is already underway with Android Wear and the Samsung Gear S2 both supporting e-SIMs, which tap into your pre-existing cell network at no extra cost. While the first untethered Android Wear device, the LG Watch Urbane Second Edition has been cancelled, we’d bet that every smartwatch brand with have an LTE version by the end of 2016.

hearables

Ears are perfect for biometric measurements and a natural home for all those virtual assistants from the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple. Wearable broke the news that Microsoft is working on a hearable called Clip, Jabra’s CEO is in on the game, we’re expecting a second crack at the Moto Hint and Bragi Dash is just about to ship.

medical-grade-consumer-tech

Digital health is an enormous opportunity for both the private and public sectors. More accurate, more constant and better respected measures of individual’s biometrics mean both money- and life-saving. If you’re the NHS, you can axe millions from your costs by ensuring that people are compliant with drugs. If you’re an insurance company, you can price your premiums accordingly. If you’re a tech giant, you can capitalize with your health platform and data sales. Whomever you are, it’s a winning situation. The only haunting figure is the specter of possible identity theft; no small deal but perhaps no big problem.

invisibles

Discussed for years but the rest of the world needs to catch up on invisibles. Sensory tech is far easier to design when you don’t have to worry about it looking great, so there are tech tattoos in development from Chaotic Moon, New Deal Design and more which might only need power from your movement or the current across your skin. And what they could learn from your sweat, we’re sure to find out.

apple-watch

It would not be a post without the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch was number one on the Wearable 50 for 2015 and that was before it was even announced. All the same, we were right to champion it as the hot wearable of the year. Perhaps, once again, the smart money is on the Apple  to be another huge deal as the calendar ticks over. The first iPhone had no 3G or Bluetooth. What style gaps and feature flaws will the Apple Watch 2 set out to fill? We look forward to finding out.

wearable-payment

The infrastructure is here but people aren’t paying from their wrists – yet. But wearable payments are set to become the norm in 2016. A few million Apple Watches in the wild, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, bPay, plus MasterCard backing the likes of Ringly and Nymi mean that there are going to be more ways to pay, and more securely than ever. With so many of the big players behind it, it’s sure to be the year for wearable payments.

CONCLUSIONS:

OK, this will do it for now.  You get the picture thought—we will be seeing more and more wearable technology as time go by.  If I were a betting man, I would say you will own some form of wearable during the next five (5) years.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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