Wearable Technology: What it is and where it is going

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  • September 16, 2014
Wearable technology

There has been much discussion and hype over the latter few years around wearable technology (wearables).

If you are new to this term, wearables are defined by anything you are able to wear on your body that has a computer element built into it.

Think of Dick Tracy, Inspector Gadget or any of your favourite Superheroes or cartoon characters who had some sort of communications or computer device embedded in their clothes, glasses, gloves etc and you will have an idea on what wearables are.

The early form of a wearable began in the 1980’s with the release of the calculator watch but it wasn’t until recently that the industry started to gain traction, mainly with the launch of two items; 1) fitness band trackers and 2) Google Glass.

Fitness band trackers are those rubber-like bands you wear on your wrist and track things such as your heart rate, number of steps you take in a day and your sleeping patterns.

Google Glass was the first version of ‘smart glasses’ and have since been copied and released by other technology companies.

Last year, Samsung (along with other brands such as Pebble) released their ‘smart watch’ and most recently, Apple followed suit.

All of this recent activity leads one to ask the question: Where is this industry going?

It is of our opinion that the wearables industry certainly has legs and will not disappear anytime soon.  Some industry pundits don’t think wearables will go anywhere, but when you look at the plethora of categories that make up the wearables segment, we believe them to be wrong.

What eventually succeeds and fails is still a widespread debate and a topic we could talk endlessly about.

So in the interest of your time, here are our condensed thoughts:

1)      Fitness band trackers need to improve their accuracy or else they will be abandoned entirely. People are already getting fed up.

2)      ‘smart glasses’ like Google Glass will see adoption by professionals first, if almost exclusively. Think of a utility line technician wearing them to fix a utility box while high up on a ladder, or a mechanic using them to repair a car engine. We don’t see people wearing them in public anytime soon.

3)      ‘smart gear’ like shirts and pants will help to make huge medical advances, especially for patients who need constant monitoring of their vitals.  We predict them becoming used in professional sports as well, to better monitor athlete’s performances.

4)      ‘Smart watches’ are an interesting one. They could eventually become a big industry or simply be a bit player in the technology space.  They still have a lot of functionality kinks to work out along with other functions to add.  Apple has by no means won this race and we don’t see one company totally owning this space.  One thing to think about: if smartphone screens keep getting bigger, why now condense it all down to a very small watch screen?

Overall, we see the wearables space to have a lot of growth potential, with growth and success not being limited to one particular wearables segment.

What succeeds and fails remains to be seen and for the next few years will continue to be another “what does the future hold” technology discussions.

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