One of the biggest challenges for the wearables industry is the relatively low adoption rate by the mass market. Wearables are at the very cutting edge of consumer technology trends, but there are signs that the market is beginning to become more mature. We compiled 5 reasons why wearables will finally become wearable in 2015.
Fashion and Luxury Brands
The power of celebrity is stronger than ever, and wearables benefit from having some famous advocates. Will.i.am, Katy Perry, Gwyneth Paltrow and Britney Spears are often seen sporting wearables such as activity trackers, and this will influence their fans into buying their own devices. They are visible indicators that a person may be technically savvy, taking care of their health, fitness and keeping up with trends.
More than that fashion houses team up with tech companies to make wearable technology more appealing looking. Intel’s MICA smart bracelet, Fit Bit necklace created by Tory Burch or Swarovski Shine are just a few examples.
Customers Pressure to Innovate
Tech companies are under constant pressure to generate new revenues streams in the form of shiny new products. Though Apple is able to turn an incredibly healthy profit from its smartphones, it will still be on the look out for the next big thing, hence the Apple Watch – to be launched in April 2015.
The pressure to innovate will be felt even more keenly among its competitors, such as Microsoft or Intel, which have not grabbed a share of the smartphone market.
Standards and Developer Platforms
Several companies have been quick to bring out their own developer platforms to try and ensure they have a prominent role in the wearables ecosystem.
- Google’s Android Wear, which extends the reach of Google Now.
- Motorola’s Moto 360.
- Samsung’s new generation of wrist wearables, including Gear Fit.
- Salesforce Wear, which aims to bring 3D smartglasses, fitness trackers and virtual reality headsets to the company’s device ecosystem.
- Garmin’s Connect IQ.
There is also a whole range of companies that have released wearables focusing on the healthcare industry (e.g. Misfit) that are seeking to expand their own ecosystems. So there is already a huge amount of diversity and opportunity within the wearables market.
For the full advantage of the lateral data flows between connected wearables to be realised, it will require open data standards. Obviously this won’t appeal to all tech companies (like Apple), but several major companies have shown a desire and a willingness to create products that are available across all different platforms.
For example, Microsoft Health is a cross-platform app available for Android and iOS as well as Microsoft’s own Windows Phone. At the heart of the service is the company’s cloud-based ‘intelligence engine’, which will attempt to bring greater insight than other activity bands have to date managed.
Elsewhere, Samsung and Dell are among the first companies to commit to the development of open standard for smart devices for the home.
Automation and Commercial Platforms
Smartphones already extend our potential connection to the physical world and wearables will further extend this connection without any need for our intervention. Physical gestures or changes in physical or physiological state detected by a smart wearable will be used automatically to trigger events within a user’s context.
These automation platforms offer the promise of a more frictionless existence. One of the most popular automation platforms, If This Then That (IFTTT), is already compatible with Jawbone, Fitbit and Android Wear. A user can, for example, trigger an event when a Jawbone detects that he/she is awake such as turning on lights in the home or turning on the coffee maker (via a Belkin connected outlet).
IFTTT’s competitors include Zapier and itDuzzit, which are both more focused on business tools.
From a commercial perspective, wearables are now benefiting from greater shopping accessibility, with many retailers setting up specific wearables departments. For example, Amazon has launched an online Wearable Technology Store, while Argos and John Lewis also sell a range of wearable devices.
Over the Christmas period in 2014 John Lewis also featured virtual reality viewers in store, called Monty’s Goggles, that were available for use at in Christmas grottos.
Industry Standard for More Diversity
As the range of available wearables products increases, so does the momentum in the sector for manufacturers and brands. This means that the consumer value proposition is improving, there is a greater range of choices in styles, and the price is reducing. However, the market is at a relatively early stage so there are still a limited number of products available.
According to Vandrico Inc., as of December 2014, there were 288 devices split into the following categories:
[progress_bars striped=”false” active=”false”][progress_bar title=”Entertainment – 35 ” width=”27″ style=”progress-bar-primary”][/progress_bars]
[progress_bars striped=”false” active=”false”][progress_bar title=”Fitness – 127 ” width=”73″ style=”progress-bar-primary”][/progress_bars]
[progress_bars striped=”false” active=”false”][progress_bar title=”Gaming – 20 ” width=”20″ style=”progress-bar-primary”][/progress_bars]
[progress_bars striped=”false” active=”false”][progress_bar title=”Industrial – 24″ width=”24″ style=”progress-bar-primary”][/progress_bars]
[progress_bars striped=”false” active=”false”][progress_bar title=”Lifestyle – 176″ width=”100″ style=”progress-bar-primary”][/progress_bars]
[progress_bars striped=”false” active=”false”][progress_bar title=”Medical – 56″ width=”40″ style=”progress-bar-primary”][/progress_bars]
[progress_bars striped=”false” active=”false”][progress_bar title=”Pets – 5″ width=”15″ style=”progress-bar-primary”][/progress_bars]
Note: Some devices fall into more than one category.
Sensors are cheaper than ever, easier to connect and easier to put together. Most of the smart wearables on the market have an open API (Application Programming Interface). This means that owners of these devices can allow other applications and services to access the data from their wearable devices and do other useful things with this data.
For example, if an individual is using MyFitnessPal to track his/her diet and calories, he/she can allow MyFitnessPal to retrieve calorie and step data from his/her Fitbit account. Enterprise too can benefit from wider connections between devices and people.
The connectivity of wearables will lead not just to an array of new products, but by virtue of their connectivity, an array of new services. This is perhaps the most exciting opportunity for wearable technology.