Wearable technology has been the domain of fitness fans for some time now, with the most popular products appealing to runners and gym goers. In particular, the Fitbit has taken the sector by storm, with 6.5 million devices sold in the last quarter alone. Despite falling short of overall profit expectations, the company has proved that demand for wearable fitness technology is still high. Samsung, Garmin and Microsoft all have new fitness wristbands out this year, and early sales figures look good for the product sector in general.
However, the next generation of wearable technology will offer much more than just fitness trackers and health monitors. Many companies are now taking the work of the Apple Watch and running with it, creating comprehensive wearable gadgets that are Internet of Things enabled and ready to connect with all the other devices and products in your life. From recording your actions to organizing your diary and communicating with your appliances, your next smart watch or headset could change your life completely.
Sales Boost For Wearables After CES 2017
Last month saw the hosting of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. This event is where the leading electronics manufacturers can show off their new inventions, their latest upgrades and their planned concept designs. Wearables were among the products this year which created the most buzz amongst attendees and sparked the most column inches from online tech bloggers. There has also been a flurry of wearable device sales since CES 17. Searches for ‘wearable technology’ and ‘fitness wearables’ have risen by 1.3% according to Google statistics, while coupon market OZCodes reports a steady rise in searches for discounts on wearable tech products like the Fitbit and the Apple Watch.
What To Expect From The Health Sector’s Next Generation Of Tech
The future really is here, with technology that once formed the stuff of movie-makers’ imaginations now coming to fruition. The new wave of fitness trackers do more than monitor step count and provide workout playlists: companies are now capable of tracking full body biometrics to provide comprehensive medical and fitness data about the wearer. Sensor-based software such as Inova’s Bodytrak program can communicate information about life signs of the wearer, as well as offering two-way communication between the wearer and an operator. The equipment could transform search and rescue and first response operations, as well as saving lives during exploration, extreme sports, long distance travel and construction or mining.
Smartwatches are also stepping up their game. Devices such as the best-selling Apple Watch and the upcoming Google Android watch are more than companions for your mobile phone: they operate as a standalone wrist-worn computer that can handle social, work and leisure functions. These fancy timepieces are Wi-fi enabled and designed to communicate with all manner of devices, from payment terminals to automatic door sensors.
Virtual Reality Finally Arrives
While wrist-based gadgets have been the big news of the past few years, headset devices are gaining popularity. Virtual reality and augmented reality are key components of next-gen wearables. Augmented reality is the laying of graphics over the real world, such as in the wildly popular Pokemon Go! Game which recently took the world by storm, while virtual reality is an immersive three dimensional experience powered entirely by digital content. Both forms of entertainment were intended for gaming, but have fast developed into something far bigger.
Virtual reality today is used to deliver virtual tours, to showcase products, to share advertising and to showcase venues or destinations. The marketing world is therefore very excited to see a new generation of VR headsets, including the long-awaited Oculus Rift and the recently updated Samsung Gear. These gadgets might have been around for a little while, but they are just reaching the consumer market and are sure to cause some disruption.
Internet Of Things Wearables
Imagine a world where all of your devices could talk to each other and make each other work. Your mobile could control your heating, your watch could operate your credit card, and your earpiece could stream your favourite tunes directly to you. Through the Internet of Things, gadgets are becoming more connected – and wearables will play a key role in this. Automating your home is no longer an unrealistic idea. From a single wearable device like a smartwatch, you could soon find yourself with the ability to brew a coffee, turn on the oven, lock your doors, answer your calls and operate your entertainment system. These gadgets are in development and will soon be on the market, opening the door for the smart home of the future.
One thing is certain – wearable technology is going nowhere. As companies work out how to make these products smaller, more powerful and more functional, it is likely that they will become as mainstream as mobiles in the near future. Expect to find yourself operating many of your home’s systems and appliances with a smart device, and wearing your devices rather than carrying them, when the next generation of wearables arrives.