Though wearable devices are not a new concept but it is a renewed idea with IOT, so whenever people talk about wearable devices they actually mean ‘smart’ wearable devices. Devices that can sense, may be store and transmit data over a network, that could prompt some action. Since now every device has the capability to collect and share data to anybody anywhere via internet, wearables have found its true powers. Companies are racing, acquiring new firms and spending millions on patents to make their devices smart and wearable, pressure is building as expectations are raised. Analyst predict the wearable market to grow exponentially having immense potential to make life better in almost every sector, let us take a look at the current scenario and the reality behind.
With the upsurge of Internet of things, there is an increasing need of more and more agents to complete the ritual, of feeding the data to the immense network of ‘things’ (as if there wasn’t enough data already available). Especially the health care companies find this very useful to have devices attached to people to feed continuous data of their well-being and make emergency calls when needed. Hence we have a line of wearable health devices, from watches to pace makers, that monitor pulse rates and calories burnt, that keeps us and our doctors informed.
A wide variety of devices that can be worn on your persona ranging from smart watches, fitness trackers, augmented and virtual reality headsets and smart glasses etc. are slowly becoming essential commodities to the consumers. Although many argue that the consumers are not ready for the wearable storm that they are attracting towards them, a shift in the purchasing trend is indicative of market that is set to grow from 84 million units in 2015 to 245 million units in 2019.
The predominant players ruling the wearable market (2015) are Fitbit (24.3%), Apple(19.9%) and Xiaomi (17.1%) making up a total of 61.3% of market share. According to Hexa Research, a market research and consulting organization, North America is being the dominant market for wearable technology, is expected to contribute 43.2% to the market share in 2019 globally. Asia-Pacific ranked to be the fastest growing region.
The immense market potential of wearable technology has been acknowledged by all the market players leading to some discoursed acquisitions in the wearable technology domain example acquisition of Misfit in November, 2015 by Fossil Group, Recon in June, 2015 by Intel (for head mounted display). Intel made another significant deal in 2014 by acquiring Basis which makes wristwatch health trackers.
Another big acquisition has been by Facebook in 2014, when they acquired an app called Moves and Microsoft acquired 6 issued and 75 in-prosecution patents for Augmented Reality glasses in the multi-million dollar deal from Osterhout Design Group a company that develops wearable for the military. Covidien(Medtronic) a healthcare products company acquired three firms, including Zephyr Technologies, which makes health monitoring wearables, available both over the counter and on prescription.
In a remunerative market that is evolving quickly Intellectual property protection becomes number one priority to safeguard competitive advantage of the big players. Following is the bubble chart of the top assignees identified in a report by wipo. However strength of the portfolio has been somewhat questionable as companies like fitbit have a considerable market share as compared to their portfolio size.
Sectors Where wearable devices are deployed
Though most wearable devices commonly heard are related to health care But it’s not the only sector where market is rapidly flourishing there are other sectors too, like security, Communication, sports/fitness etc.. are to name a few. Humans hate doing things manually and wearable devices takes care of automating the extremely manual task of relaying every second data of a person over the internet, doesn’t matter if that data is relevant or not. Following are some sectors where companies developing wearable devices are seeing a bright future.
Sports and Fitness – It is the most sought after sector in terms of monetizing wearable technology, as it has been proven by companies like fitbit etc. There is a wide variety of wearable sports and fitness devices available today some of them could be fused to fabric and worn as garments providing enhanced overall body movement monitoring while others are worn directly on some body part and could monitor vital signs of the wearer. We will be talking more about the former in the next section smart activity clothing first lets focus on wearable devices that can monitor activities and fitness when worn on body.
Mio FUSE is a wristband that combines Mio’s patented optical heart rate monitoring technology with the features of a sports watch and activity tracker. Notch wearable motion capture wherein Notch modules placed on body forms wireless sensor network that streams data to smart phone via Bluetooth Low Energy. Another notable mention is MYOVOLT™, it applies vibration energy directly to muscle, soft tissue and joints providing physiological benefits, using alignment straps, it allows the wearer to move around freely whilst treatment is in progress.
Some examples of Wearables fused to garments like fabric sensors are StretchSense fabric sensors for naturally measuring sports movements. The sensors are connected to a Bluetooth circuit and stretches as athlete moves with an Android app displays real-time motion feedback. Another example is Heddoko™ that provides a solution composed of smart compression shirts and pants that track the movement of the body joints using textile embedded sensors.
Smart Activity Clothing – Eliminating the need to wear any additional gear during workouts or sports smart activity clothing is attracting users more than any contemporary specially in sport and fitness sector. Nike+iPod Sports Kit is an activity tracker device developed by Nike, measuring distance and pace of walk or run. The transmitter embedded in to the shoe sends data to smartwatch or 2nd generation apple device.
Smart clothing isn’t just about fitness tracking anymore, when it comes to monitoring babies it could be very useful. The Owlet Smart Sock, a baby monitor can monitor heart rate using pulse oximetry technology used in hospitals to make sure the baby’s breathing and sleep has been uninterrupted. Neopenda’s vital signs monitor is fitted inside a hat for newborn babies. It can measure temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood oxygen saturation. It makes the entire baby monitoring task easy since everyone knows babies hate wearing gadgets.
Hearables – hearing aids, personal sound amplifiers and headphone/ear buds are already available to the consumers but they need an extra bit of technology to convert them in to true hearables, proving to have immense market potential. This has already attracted many companies to rethink their hearing aid products. Hearables market is set to revolutionise the way we listen to music, as well as providing an alternative to the wrist for vital signs and fitness sensors. Though power consumption remains a problem it does not prevent companies from investing in advanced hearables. for example When Apple Acquired Beats Electronics for $3billion other companies too reported an increased sales.
The hearing aid manufacturers are more experienced and technological advanced in the audio miniaturization than most consumer headset vendors, making hearing aids expensive. Apple and Danish company ReSound teamed up on hearing aid Called LiNX, the device syncs wirelessly with the newest Apple mobile devices and takes advantage of iOS 7’s new accessibility options for the hearing-impaired. It could stream voice and music from an iPhone as well as operating as a hearing aid other notable examples include Starkey halo, Beltone First, Oticon Opn all work with iphones.
But that’s not the end of line for hearables, products are available in the market like bragi Dash a Birometric ear bud that Tracks pace, steps, cadence and distance; measures heart rate, oxygen saturation and energy spent. There are still other hearables equipped with accelerometer, pulse oximeter, burned calories, body temperature, air temperature, distance run, turns, rotation, G‐force and angle to name a few. This can deliver a plethora of data that developers may still not be able to tap to deliver advanced services to users.
Personal Medical and Assisted Living – Health monitoring feature has been used as one of the most highlighted feature of almost every wearable device that can sense any vital sign of wearer’s body. This is mainly because the provision of avoiding seeing a physician for every small thing and emergency help are compelling to many people especially when they are living alone. However analysts have enough reason to doubt if these people are actually ready to pay and use these wearables.
The HealthPatch MD by Vital Coonect is a biosensor that is reusable and it is embedded in a patch that can be disposed of. It has ECG electrodes and helps with keeping track of heart rate, breathing, temperature, steps, and even detects body position in case if a person has fallen. Where many companies are facing troubles in getting FDA approvals for selling their wearable health monitoring products in US and Europe, the HealthPatch MD has received FDA clearance in the United States and has also been given regulatory approval throughout Europe. This product is registered in Canada as well.
Here is another game changer in the wearable healthcare monitoring devices market, the Vitaliti by Cloud DX which uses cloud based technology to allow for a person to access a companion app that keeps track of all of their vitals. Draped around a person’s neck with two sensors in the front to record information. It has a patented technology called Cloud Diagnostics which checks for heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, oxygen, movement, and temperature.
Kids and Pets – Working Parents suffering from parental guilt are most common targets for wearable devices for kids, so when parents can’t be with their kids they can still monitor their activities and keep in touch all the times. Parents want to monitor their kid’s vitals and track their locations all the time, apparently for safety reasons. But it is difficult to make kids carry a smart phone with them, wearable devices provide a perfect solution to this problem.
Best known product is Mimo, which sells packs of three sleep suits with a connected sensor, which monitors respiration, skin temperature and movement, as well as allowing an audio link to a parent’s smartphone. we have already discussed Owlet Smart Sock above. AngelSense is entirely unique and comes with many features a typical GPS devices do not. For one, you can use the app to “listen in” to your child’s device and hear what’s happening around them. For parents with special need kids, this is a revolutionary tracker.The FiLIP 2 is a wrist watch, GPS locator, and cell phone that works with an accompanying iOS or Android application.
Tracking pets is yet another problem pet owners face, because everyone knows pets don’t like to carry smart phones or other trackable device. With wearable technology tracking pets can be made extremely easy and can be augmented to activity monitoring to find out what they might have been doing this might help pet owners to assess the mood of their pet and take better care of them.
Whistle has GPS tracking and pet wellness in one band the unit clips to any collar more and connects to a smartphone app to keep tabs on your pooch’s step goal. PitPatPet makes sure that your dog is getting enough exercise, PitPatPet will warn you of any changes in your dog’s active behaviour, which can be an indicator that they’re feeling under the weather.
What better than capturing the world from your pet’s point of view, obviously for perspective change (human perspective is becoming too mainstream, i guess). The dog harness from action cam kings GoPro can get a camera (sold separately) attached to the chest for recording activities like “bone-chewing, digging and front-paw action”or on the back for overhead shots of running and jumping.
Fashion – There is no doubt that wearable’s true potential can be unlocked only by pairing it with clothing people can wear everyday. Be it fitness tracking or health monitoring the best way to achieve them is to have tech embedded in to wearer’s clothing/jewellery making it easy to carry with style. Sports and fitness industry is already offering a range of smart sports wear that can track movements and vitals to assist in routines. Big companies are realising the true potential of smart clothing/jewellery and the fact that every body who wears some sort of clothing/jewellery may some day purchase smart clothing/jewellery too provided their availability at reasonable prices, is making fashion industry more attractive for wearable devices.
we already have seen some examples of smart clothing under sports and fitness category wearables lets take a look at a few other wearable devices that are meant to elevate your fashion statement too. Polo Tech Shirt from Ralph Lauren is the ultimate activity tracker, with woven sensors into the nylon fabric that can track everything from heart rate to breathing patterns, it is being tested on the pro tennis circuit. Experimenting with emotion, interactive fashion designer Jasna Rok’s creation ‘Exaltation’ allow us to literally wear our hearts and minds on our sleeves or neck. The idea of ‘Exaltation’ is that the collar changes to fit the needs of the situation, in simple words collar acts on the mood, going higher if you are in an awkward situation and, forming a cocoon and ‘cut you off’ from a really uncomfortable situation. And all this time i thought facing difficult situations makes you strong, but hey! who said wearables were meant to make u emotionally strong?
Even if you are not an extremely beautiful person u still have right to make sure you get your beauty sleep properly, and this is what Misfit decided to do. ‘Misfit Swarovski Activity Chrystal’ happened when Swarovski and Misfit joined forces to bring the most advanced tracking technology into beautiful Swarovski jewelry.The fully faceted Swarovski Activity Crystal measures your daily activities and quality of sleep, and syncs wirelessly with your smartphone. Vienna-based FORMBYTIME brings your jewelry to life with motion. Minimalist necklaces made of precious metals are connected to the wearer’s mobile device via Bluetooth. The electromechanical jewelry interfaces with your smartphone so you can customize movement based on mobile activity.
Not just restricting fashion to clothing and jewellery let us look at the wearable smart accessories that are turning heads all around.
Smart Glasses and augmented reality – Gone are the days when wearing glasses could tag u as a geek or nerd, they are now fashion statements, because they just don’t make your vision better they actually make you smarter(mentally). Smart glasses are not just going to make you perceive the world better they are going a mile ahead by superimposing augmented reality over what you see, letting you manipulate the 3D objects in it and do more. Smart glasses will very soon become the most basic gadget people could own surpassing smart phones, AugmentedReality.org claims that shipments of smartglasses will hit 1 billion around 2020, surpassing shipments of mobile phones by 2025.
On one hand where augmented reality has made gaming experience tremendously satisfying, smart glasses have enhanced the overall viewing experience and still have a long way to go. With microsoft’s hololens it seems almost anything is possible, it gives you the power to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms.
Meta’s augmented reality glasses overlays augmented reality on top of your reality, identifying gestures it enables users to manipulate virtual 3D objects like a clay model. Its specs include motion tracking, 3D HD display, 3D surround sound, camera and quality lenses. And if you think that wearing a camera all the time may invade your privacy, SeeThru has a solution, instead of relying on a camera to gather information about your surroundings, it relies only on its own series of location plus a GPS to get things done. Packed with features like wireless & communication with smartphone, localization and navigation, head tracker, and contacts access from phone SeeThru focuses on sports and other physical activities .
Using a technology called Visual Attention Modem (VAM), K-Glass categorizes relevant and irrelevant visual data, replicating the human brain’s ability. For example, you’re looking for something to eat and end up outside of some restaurant, K-Glass can prompt you with an overlay menu of that restaurants food. Therefore, you don’t have to waste time and effort in getting that information.
Smart Watches – And last but not the least, highly anticipated sector under fashion is the smart watch, with companies like apple already planning on delivering way more than people can expect, it is interesting to see that folks who stopped wearing watches since they carried smart phones would care to buy an expensive smart watch which practically does nothing more than a smart phone.
But the market analysts think otherwise, the device shipments are supposed to grow at an annualized rate of 18% through 2021 to reach 70 million units. Intel’s acquisition of Basis for an alleged $100 million indicates that there is a belief that this will be a major market. Basis makes wristwatch health trackers, capturing 7 percent of the market versus competitor Jawbone’s 21 percent.
Apple Watch Series 2 adds waterproofing and GPS, and is faster than before and you need an iPhone to use the Apple Watch , same as always. shifted the focus to fitness, adding GPS to track runs and cycling session. It’s now fully waterproof and offers swim tracking in the pool and in open water. Apple has even introduced a new Breathe app to help you relax.
Pebble’s all-steel smartwatch has long battery life(7 days) and an appealing design durable feel. It’s worth remembering too that the Pebble Time is iPhone and Android compatible. The new addition of voice replies will only work with Gmail on iPhone versus a whole bunch of apps on Android. Pebble Health which brings native activity and sleep tracking to the Pebble Time, Time Steel and Time Round.
Huawei smart watch keep score of your steps, calorie burn and the amount of times you stand up during a day. You can set all your own goals the Watch will know whether you are walking, running or climbing. Additionally jawbone’s UP application (health and fitness system) pre-installed, with latest version of the smartwatch OS, you can officially use the Huawei Watch with an iPhone.
Samsung gear S2 with rotating bezel intuitive way of interacting with the smartwatch you can switch between apps, cycle back to notifications, change volume and brightness all in the same smooth motion. Tizen supports Bluetooth – the S2 works with most Android phones, another first for a non-Wear Samsung smartwatch. It also has Wi-Fi on board – as well as NFC for Samsung Pay, its mobile payment service which is a hit in Korea, just launched in the US and is coming to the UK. With Activity tracking and heart rate monitor all-in-all, the S2 offers more than Android Wear or Pebble in terms of health and fitness tracking
Kairos’ T‐Band , which is essentially a smart watch strap which can be fitted to any conventional watch. T-Band, the strap can be attached to any existing watch and boasts all the features you’d expect from a smartwatch – all in the strap. The second model is the T-Band HD ($179), which stands for ‘hidden display’. The screen spends most of the time off, and blends into the rubber strap when powered down.
Though wearable market predictions look promising there are numerous hidden agendas which are often not discussed. We have seen the plathero of devices under development, and still we are far away from devices that could be affordable and long lasting. In my next post i will try to give a reality check to the wearable boom by discussing some serious concerns such devices will pose unless resolved.
Originally posted 2016-11-21 10:46:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter