The Evolution and Connected Future of Smart Wearables
By: Ian Vernon
A glimpse to the future shows that everything is connected and smart including all your items of clothing. This future of augmented wearables to improve our daily lives is nothing new, in fact it dates back to Roman emperor Nero who have worn emerald-like eyeglasses to get a sharper view of gladiator spectacles. The first connected wearable was first use in 1961 as introduced by MIT professors Edward Thorp and Claude Shannon, it was so successful that it was banned by the state of Nevada.
In 2017, around 115 Million wearables were shipped mostly around smart watches and fitness trackers. By 2021, that figure is expected to rise by 560 Million and will be generating $95 Billion in revenues. With so much growth forecasted, what kind of wearables will this be? Surely its not all about smart watches and fitness trackers. To predict the future let’s look at consumer behaviour. Ericsson conducted a study and found that the potential growth of wearables will be powered by what we already know today.
Having said that the consumer products that succeed and become the norm rarely came from consumer surveys, case in point of the iPhone, which was a revolutionised mobile device when it was first introduced in 2007. Like the iPhone that changes the way we used phones and communicate, our items of clothing is about to change with the growing improvement of connected devices. Soon, more and more pieces of clothing will be connected. Where will we expect the growth of connected wearables, is it for personal use like fitness or perhaps enterprise or something completely new?
The growth of connected wearables will be much more than just smart watches and gadgets powered by artificial intelligence, it will be your day to day personal items, both those you wear at work and the ones you wear daily. Let’s explore the possibilities.
Fitness, Wellness and Sports
The initial use of connected devices were in Fitness, such as Fitbit, adding an AI that can guide users on how to better improve their fitness, and athletic performance will be the next phases. Several sports apparel companies are already on top of this such as Sensoria Fitness that helps runners improved routines using analytics or Game Your Game is helping golfers improve their game with a personal golf assistant. Soon most items of sports and fitness clothings will be fitted with smart connected devices that will allow the wearer to optimise their workouts and keep their well being in best possible shape. The challenge is to have an effective AI that can work with your connected clothing and in conjunction with other items that keeps you healthy such as food, sleep and relaxation, after all its not only about workouts that improve your overall health.
Healthcare and Medical
There are already several companies today that produces gadgets to track your health from blood pressure monitors such as Qardio MD and tracking devices attached to medications such as asthma inhalers and some even tracks your sleep. The healthcare industry is getting there but surely there are more things that can be done such as detecting falls and predicting injuries, alerting care givers in care homes, ensuring the right treatment but more importantly preventing medical emergencies. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
Safety and Security
With lots of personal sensors nowadays, they can be employed at work to keep workers safe in high-risk industries such as logistics, mining, oil and gas, search and rescue. Wearables with LED lights are now keeping unprotected road users such as cyclist and runners safe by providing visual indicators.
The usage of connected wearables are almost limitless, however how will it revolutionised the future and make lives better for everyone? Is the driver going to be the first adopters, such as wellness and sports or is it going to be the Fashion Industry waking up and realising that they actually have a minefield waiting to be extracted. Just imagine a world where all your pieces of clothing works in conjunction to conserve our natural resources, save lives, keeps humans and pets healthy, safe and secure and more importantly help make lives better.