A Growing Industry: Future of Wearables in the Technology Sector
Tech companies are trying to take over the world. I’m not just being an alarmist, that’s the current business model of tech companies as they try to be the one-stop-shop for your life.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a closer look at just what tech companies have been up to.
Technology companies and their tech developments
Amazon started as a bookstore turned online retail. Then they expanded their business with hardware – tablets, phones, Alexa. Pretty soon, their digital assistant was in millions of households. Now with their doorbell systems coupled with Amazon delivery, they’re slowly infiltrating every aspect of our daily lives. Tech companies are even willing to lose money on hardware for the chance to get their software into your lives.
The best example of this methodology is the Windows phone. For many, it was the hardware that held on for too long. After all, why would Microsoft keep creating a product that lost them money and was obviously losing to the competition? Because it got their software in your hands.
The directive of essentially every major tech company is to win the battle to control most of our lives. Do that, and you win the profit. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, though. More tech means easier lives and overall better living. However, as we’ve seen with the recent Facebook data scandal, we need to be careful about how we let tech into our lives.
This leads us to where tech will move to next: wearables.
What does "wearable" really mean?
Industry leaders know that smartphones have become familiar. The launch of a new smartphone doesn’t have the same hype and excitement surrounding it as when the first iPhone or Android came out. Wearables, on the other hand, they’re new and exciting.
We’re not just talking about Apple Watches or the failed Google Glass here; we’re talking about how tech will be further integrated into our daily lives.
Wearable tech is already surpassing smartphones as the fastest-growing tech innovation. Consumers can’t get enough of it. Many wearables can be gimmicky, though. That explains why my Apple watch is sitting on my bathroom counter, and it probably explains why that activity tracker you bought never gets used. We buy wearables because we want them to revolutionize our lives for the better – make our lives easier. But their downsides, like constant charging or bulky construction, often get in the way of the actual benefit.
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So what’s next in the industry? Versatility, prevalence, and energy efficiency.
Anyone who has had a wearable knows that consumers want a device that can do it all, integrates with everything, and most of all, one that you don’t have to charge every five minutes.
Smartwatches, belts, earbuds, accessories, implants, patches, tattoos, and more could slowly augment how we use our smartphone and help tech more passively improve our daily lives.
After smartwatches, smart earbuds are the biggest wearable tech as of recent. What used to mean hours of pairing and endless charging has now resulted in wirelessly connected earbuds that seamlessly control other tech and integrate into our schedule.
Smartwatches are improving, too. Apple’s heart monitor has already saved lives with its tracking tech, and these wearables continue to become more like second nature to use.
Google’s Project Jacquard is developing yarns that integrate touch, and gesture controls. This means wearable clothing or textiles that can control devices. There are even companies developing patches that monitor our psychological states and monitor our health stats, like hydration and temperature.
The best way to understand the future of wearable tech is to break the industry into two sectors: input and solution. All wearables have to take some input and use it to implement a solution in our lives.
The future of wearable tech
Inputs to wearables are constantly improving. Machine learning algorithms are allowing the transformation of simple sensor input into more actionable health or activity data. In essence, they’re helping wearable tech grasp the context of their use.
Integrated circuits are getting smaller, and our understanding of how wearables can and will be used is getting better. The engineers at Apple had little understanding of how or even why the average person might buy and use their watch. Today, complaints have been uttered, and many have fully integrated this tech into everyday life. There’s now a plethora of case studies as to what works well about wearables and what doesn’t. All this means better-informed engineers and thus better-informed products.
This better information leads to better solutions. Personal monitoring, digital-physical interaction, consumer health-tech, and physical validation are all solutions that wearables will soon solve in a better way.
Wearables will allow for better personal monitoring, whether for health purposes or just learning your routine. This means better scheduling and health knowledge, and unfortunately, if we’re not careful, it means better ads being delivered to us on digital platforms. Wearables are the final step to fully integrate digital infrastructure with a very analog life that we’ve kept for thousands of years.
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If you want to forecast what’s next in tech, usually, the best way to do so is by putting yourself in the mindset of a tech company. How can we get our digital infrastructure (sales, social media, life-augmenting tools) more finely woven into our users' lives? For most tech companies, that means hardware. And companies are willing to lose money on wearables and hardware just to further integrate a few more people into their purchase funnel.
There are three main areas that the future of wearables and the tech industry, in general, are focusing on as they develop the next line of products.
- Sustainability and resilience. For much of tech’s history, engineers have struggled to make lasting devices that can be consistently updated. This is a side effect of the rapid advancement of tech, but companies are being forced to rethink their approach as we deal with more permanent tech like clothing and implants.
- Evaluation. Coupled with the need to create lasting products, companies need better ways to evaluate how those products will affect our lives. Wearables directed towards health augmentation will need to go through clinical trials of sorts. Algorithms to aide our scheduling or digital experience will have to be rapidly improved and formatted.
- Market. When wearables first started hitting the market, it seemed like there was a wearable for everything. Companies took the shotgun approach to market research, created a plethora of products, and figured out what stuck. With the drive to make wearables more useful and beneficial, there are significant efforts being directed into fine-tuning where wearables actually make a difference.
These new directed focuses on wearable tech, as well as lessons learned from past products, will hopefully help wearables become less gimmicky and more impressive. The future of tech seems very much directed at the advance of wearable tech, whether you buy into it yet or not.
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