Like 5G, the Internet of Anything/Everything (IoX), smart cities/homes/vehicles, mmWave, and more, wearables have suffered from the same hype of over-promising and under-delivering. While all the rage, Fitbit and similar devices were ultimately discovered to be far from truly accurate and mostly novel.
Sure, they had some value, the interface between the wearable and whatever smart device they paired with offered a convenience factor that certainly made some things easier. But mostly it was a novelty with relatively poor reliability and accuracy.
But, like the aforementioned technologies and platforms, 2018 is going to change that – or at least get wearable on the practical path with more realistic, real-world implementations.
While wearables have certainly found some niche markets in areas such as consumer and medical, by and large, the smart wearables market has been slow to materialize. Now that much of the hype and unmet expectations are behind it, the time has come for wearables to start a new journey in segmented areas with real growth potential.
In the past several quarters, smart watches have lead the pack in growth numbers. But around the corner are devices that will have cellular connectivity and voice enablement.
On the medical scene, wearables will have a more integrated role in body function and better connectivity to core health systems. One way they will do that is with the various renditions of reality (virtual, augmented, merged), which will significantly alter the way medical care is provided and delivered, thanks to advancements in micro-displays and optics, as well as cutting-edge user interfaces such as voice control, haptics, and gesture recognition.
On the reality side, augmented, virtual and mixed reality devices are blurring the boundaries between the real and digital worlds, which is bringing on line cutting-edge content in sectors such as in gaming, training and conferencing. Expect that to expand to smart ecosystems in the near future.
The next generation of wearables will integrate flexible and stretchable electronics. These technologies have been on the edge for some time and the next couple of years will see them go mainstream. Advancements in sensors, particularly, but also in power, batteries and displays are finally enabling some of these futuristic applications. Add to that conductive inks, yarns and cabling, and these next-generation wearables will fit any requirement because wearable electronics will become flexible, stretchable, conformal and, best of all, comfortable – thanks to maturing nanotechnologies.
For the medical industry, stretchable and flexible components are especially promising because they can be placed in locations such as arteries, organs and directly on the skin. Such devices can paint a much clearer picture of the state of one’s health than previously thought possible. These advancements will scale in all segments enabling new types of wearables for a host of new applications.
Overall, progress made in at the edge of the envelope in these emerging and evolving technologies is what will re-jump start the wearables sector. Once OEMs get these technologies integrated, watch the wearables market explode in the next couple of years – finally.
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. Ernest’s client list has included Lucent Technologies, Jones Intercable, Qwest, City and County of Denver, TCI, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and other businesses. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner, and a life member of the IEEE. He has been certified as an IBM Certified OS2 consultant and trainer; WordPerfect Corporation Developer/Consultant and Lotus Development Corporation Developer/Consultant. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio.