The Rise of Wearable Technology
From smartwatches to minute sensors, wearable technology has been on the rise for quite some time now — and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.
In fact, according to global research firm Gartner, consumer spending on wearable gadgets is expected to skyrocket to $52 billion (£39.6 billion) in 2020, an increase of $11 billion (£8.4 billion) in revenues from last year. Smartwatches, like the Apple Watch and Fitbit, as well as head-mounted displays (HMD), will continue to reign supreme among an ever-growing and diversifying array of wearable technology.
Apple has already reported that although their iPhone sales decreased significantly last year, its wearable sales remained positive. Perhaps this shows that more and more people are moving from handheld gadgets to even smaller devices that are inconspicuous yet incredibly functional.
What does its technology offer?
Fitbits, Apple Watches, and similar devices target mainly one type of consumer: the health-conscious., fitness-focussed. These all started with simple step trackers and heart rate monitors, most of which can be cumbersome to carry around.
Over the years, technology has become smaller and even more functional. They have grown to provide more detailed insights that can improve physical activity, even for elite athletes. Smart insoles manufacturer Nurvv highlights the level of accuracy runners require to enhance their performance at a profound level. These insights are sometimes invisible, even to the athlete or their coach. However, sensors embedded into their insoles measure running from the feet up and provides meaningful information that can improve pace and distance covered down.
These fitness-focused sensors have branched out to the broader healthcare industry. One notable wearable sensor platform is the California-based VivaLNK, a company that uses the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor patient health and progress remotely. They can track medical-grade information such as ECG rhythm and temperature, and even predict things like a neutropenic fever in cancer patients who have completed chemotherapy treatment. These sensors, which can easily fit in the palm of your hand, reduce the need to physically visit hospitals for routine check-ups, improving the convenience and accessibility of patient care.
New technologies are also being developed to target working professionals and entrepreneurs. Network World lists three companies exploring this space, namely: Theatro, Hipaax, and Notable. An intelligent assistant, much like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, is what your retail business will get with Theatro. With it, an employee can check inventory remotely by asking a question on the AI-powered wearable, among many other useful functions. Similarly, Hipaax’s TaskWatch is a cloud-based wearable aimed at helping employees manage tasks. It sends notifications and actionable tasks to the user and their management. Lastly, enterprise and healthcare overlap with Notable, another voice-powered assistant that can facilitate administrative tasks seamlessly, saving healthcare providers valuable resources.
It’s exciting to see the technology expand from its initially narrow focus on fitness, as even businesses are now poised to benefit from the growth of the wearable industry. The truth is, however, that there’s still a lot of untapped potential in the world of healthcare, which with the pace of development today, shouldn’t take too long to realise.