Wearable technology has had a disappointing start.
Ten thousand steps don’t motivate people. Users buying fitness trackers stop wearing them after six months. Google Glasses are gone. In 2016 alone, there list of failed products includes the Pebble watch, Microsoft pulling the plug on the Microsoft Band, the Basis Band.
But, there are a few new trends in the market now that will accelerate the growth of wearable technology over the next 5-10 years time. It might not however always be in the direction people expect.
Smaller devices and longer battery life are just two technology trends.
Sensors are getting better.
We’ve had wrist-based heart rate monitoring for a few years now. Continuous glucose sensors are revolutionising management of type 1 diabetes. The days of pinprick blood tests 5-10 times a day are on their way out.
Continuous Glucose Monitor
Continuous blood lactate monitors are coming which will revolutionise training for athletes.
Wearable apps are getting smarter.
Most wearable apps give contextual tips on how to improve health, sleep or training. Coaching apps give real-time feedback on their workouts. Wearables are notifying us when we’re sitting down too long, to counter the ‘sitting is the new smoking’ medical advice.
And there’s augmented reality.
Pokemon Go is just the beginning. Augmented reality will change how we interact with everything. From gaming to directions, to personalised advertising.
Augmented Reality by US Startup Magic Leap – Backed by Google
Wearables are getting pretty.
While the iWatch has great design, most fitness trackers are techy and clunky. But fashion designers are doing their magic on wearable tech. Companies like Tag Heuer and Fossil having premium-designed watches with smart functionality.
Wearables are easier to use, fitting in with our lives better. Workouts and sleep are now automatically logged for instance.
Wearables are becoming more discrete. Companies like uBirds and Montblanc are making ‘smart straps’. Smart straps can be used with existing watches, look just like a standard leather strap, but have notifications & heart rate monitoring.
uBirds Smart Strap
Counting our steps won’t drive wearable take-up.
But better health and fitness monitoring will.
The latest devices track our resting heart rate daily, giving us a much better picture of health and fitness than step count.
Wearables are pushing the boundaries in sports.
— Sport eXperience (@SporteXper) October 21, 2016
At the One Zero conference last year, wearable’s were talked about by every speaker. Continuous monitoring of athletes is now winning Olympic medals, giving competitors the edge they need.
Wearables are transforming health care.
Google glasses are being used in hospitals to connect specialists from around the world to A&E departments. Wearables are being used to monitor seizures in epileptic patients.
Wearables are even being used to predict illnesses in patients 2-3 days before physical symptoms showing up.
The future of wearable technology is bright
The problem up until recently was we were still trying to figure out use cases for wearable technology.
With these three trends, the future is becoming more and more clear, with new technology opening up more and more opportunities, designers designing products that people want to use.
- A third of users stop using wearables after six months.
- Continuous glucose monitoring.
- Athletes using blood lactate monitoring to prevent overtraining.
- Moov, the smart coaching wearable.
- Snapchat to move into augmented reality advertisements
- Augmented Reality start-up – Magic Leap
- Fossil wearable technology.
- Tag Heuer wearable technology.
- uBirds smart strap.
- Using wearables to lower your resting heart rates.
- Wearables transforming sports at the One-Zero conference.
- Google glasses used in hospitals.
- Wearables being used to diagnose illnesses.
— Justin Lawler (@justin_d_lawler) January 11, 2017
Quantified Self in Dublin
Justin is co-organiser of Dublin’s Quantified Self Meetup, where we discuss the latest in biohacking, self-tracking, health and technology.