The Future of Wearable Tech
For some of us, just looking into a regular mirror is enough to evoke mixed feelings. But imagine a mirror that tracks your fitness or weight loss goals, and gives information about what it sees. Now imagine it’s attached to your arm! That’s either a scene from a horror, or the one thing missing from your life. Either way, we suppose this is a mirror that definitely doesn’t lie. Wearable tech can be polarising. How much do you really want to know about your sleep patterns, your BMI or the number of steps you took today? Do you really need to answer a call using your wrist? Somewhere between lifestyle kit and medical equipment, it seems as if fitness armband tech like Fitbit has cornered the market, leaving the Apple Watch out in the cold. With the wearables market as a whole expected to reach $12m by 2018, the race is one to see who can provide the kind of wearable tech consumers need and want.
Apple and Fitbit Head to Head
The Apple Watch was set to become the next most-wanted gadget when it launched in 2015. However, Apple didn’t continue the legendary winning streak that had started with the iPhone (if not the iPod). In every quarter of 2015, the Apple Watch was outsold by Fitbit products. As a general concept, wearable tech seems to be more popular when it can be used for something specific; strap on your Jawbone or your Nike Fuel and go for a run, get results straightaway.
Fitbit, specifically, has been gaining ground, having sold 21 million gadgets since 2007. Could it be that the smartwatch just hasn’t had its time yet? The big question is whether a smartwatch could, or should replace your phone. We are pretty well wedded to our phones, and so much of our daily lives now depends on them. In January 2016, 10.3 million apps were being downloaded from the Apple Store, per day! How many times have you checked Google Maps this week? There’s doubt in some quarters that a smartwatch can provide the accessibility, processing power and general coolness that a great smartphone can. It’s clear that some sectors of the wearables industry will need to adapt. However, the future is bright for the industry as a whole, and here’s why.
The Millennial Health Revolution
We now need, and really want control over our health. The popularity of wearable health tech bears this out. Not only that, but Millennials are leading the trend for putting health and a balanced lifestyle first. These digital natives use tech to keep track of how they’re doing, and the rest of us are following suit. The general upsurge in health-consciousness is visible everywhere, from clean eating blogs to marathon challenges. But it’s not only our physical appearance and check-up results that have benefitted from this shift: latest research points out to even more benefits than expected, from mental capacity to memory and overall wellbeing.
Several industries and professions have started to see the benefits of this new focus. A case in point is the world of professional poker. It used to have a reputation for not really being health-conscious, to put it lightly. Nowadays though, poker players enjoy the mental benefits of physical health. According to experts, regular physical exercise can help with memory while cardio can help to create more brain cells. Burning calories helps with memory and protects the brain cells. Not only that, but because poker is a game that stretches your logic and reasoning skills, as well as memory, the benefits exercise brings in terms of sleep and energy levels are essential. We could all do with better brain function, as well as more defined abs! In fact, the view that these two often go together is gaining ground. Beyond poker champions, what tech should we mortals be looking forward to in the months ahead, and will it fulfil our needs?
A Promising Future for Wearables
There are many competitors to the Apple Watch, and they’re been popping up left, right and centre in recent months. So crowded has the market become that there are even budget options, if you really need a smartwatch in your life. The basic smartwatch has been around for a while, but guys like Pebble and Samsung have been updating and exploring different spec and price points. If you’re looking for a watch to replace your phone, the reviews for the Samsung Gear S are excellent.
It seems as if this is what newer smartwatches should be doing: leaving the health-specific market to other companies. For runners, the GPS watch has proven a genuinely useful tool for amateurs and professionals alike. The fact that so many feature music playback-to-wireless headphones and heart rate monitors, is an example of wearable tech catering to real user needs. Or what about Kokoon, a pair of headphones that claim to aid sleep using smart audio technology, and include sleep tracking as well. Though the project has been seen some delays, it aims to ship later this year. Finally, the logical conclusion of all this; wearables for your pet. Nuzzle is a GPS collar for domestic pets which can notify you if your dog or cat strays too far from home.
In the way that the smart city, or the internet of things has gone from science fiction to fact, there’s no doubt that wearable tech will follow suit. There’s no one size fits all solution, or at least not yet, but it’s quite exciting to see where the watches of the future will go. With smart wrist-wear expected to have sold 115 million units by 2018, the market as a whole is optimistic. No matter how wild and innovative the outer reaches of wearable tech gets, it looks as if the smartphone app will remain a part of the process – for the time being?