Electronics

Is there a future for wearable tech?

If we go back a couple of years, wearables were a new and exciting technology that had the potential to change the way we live. The thought of not having to use your mobile phone to talk to your friends simply because our wristwatch would do it for us was just mind boggling. But has the novelty of these ‘game-changing’ accessories diminished?

We’ve seen each individual wearable try and fail at revolutionising the way we communicate, the way we learn, even the way we entertain ourselves. Take a look at Apple; so far in 2016 they’ve sold 1.1 million Apple Watches, that’s more than 70% fewer than 2015. So where are wearables going wrong? Well this comes down to two factors; either people don’t want to move away from current technologies, or people are more excited about a newer and better alternative.

The old

So what old technology poses a more exciting future than wearables? Think about it; what’s the most common form of technology we see all around us every single day? Mobiles.

Mobile phones have been around since the 70s and have been an integral part of our lives since their introduction.  Everywhere we go we see people clutching their handheld computers. Our mobiles not only act as cameras, browsers and communication devices, they’re our very own personal assistants.  So why would we want to take away from a technology that’s still growing and evolving year on year?

Well to put it simply, our smartphones do almost everything we can think of and wearables can’t. The major issue that arises when it comes to wearables is that you need to buy one for every different application you require. If you want to track fitness you need a FitBit. If you want to be notified of your next meeting you need an Apple Watch. If you want to take photos you need Snapchat Spectacles, and so on. People just aren’t motivated to spend so much money on multiple devices when they already have access to all those features on one central pocket-sized device.

Admittedly smartwatches are getting better and are equipped with features that make them comparable to mobiles, but they just don’t seem as popular anymore. Everybody is craving bigger and better displays in order to heighten the experience of using devices. This causes the 1.5 inch display of smartwatches to be truly incomparable to a 5.5 inch smartphone display. Would you compromise the luxury of a big display for something that sits on your wrist instead of in your pocket?

The new

Like most technologies, new devices and features constantly threaten the success of wearables. So what technology is causing us to lose interested in our futuristic accessories? Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over, but what is it?

AI is exactly what it says on the tin; an intelligent machine that ‘learns’ from it’s environment in order to apply actions to achieve an end goal. But why is this causing us to lose interest in wearable tech? AI brings something to the table that no previous technology has been able to, the ability for us to take actions without touching a device. We now live in a world where we can automate our lives with smart-homes, autonomous cars, intelligent assistants and even automated purchase predictions. And this is an industry that’s just dipping it’s toe into the water; in the next few years we’ll see it expand to all aspects of our lives.

Our movement and voice will constantly be monitored by machines that whisper important data into our ears. With the likes of Amazon Echo, we already have platforms ready to put this in place. Wearables are aimed to help make your lives more efficient, but what’s the point if AI is going to notify us of the weather, the time, the news, our meetings and what food we need to restock?

Personally I don’t want an ugly piece of jewellery to keep me updated; it’s just another device I’ve got to remember to strap on in the morning. And if we’re honest, how ridiculous do people look wearing them!

AI has a much more exciting future. I can’t wait to be driven to work by my personal chauffer and have coffee ready for me when my alarm goes off; it’s the coming of a future everybody always dreamed of.

This new innovation is so forward-thinking that we’re beginning to see mobile and wearable manufacturers venture into it, thus competing with themselves. They’ve seen the interest in wearable tech die slowly and painfully whilst that of artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT) grow on an exponential scale. It speaks for itself that they’re giving up on wearables in order to test the waters of an intelligent and connected future; maybe that’s why people just aren’t interested in wearing devices anymore.

A saving grace

Unless something huge changes, we can pretty much say goodbye to the likes of smartwatches. Although they’re hanging on by a thread, there are a couple of industries in which they’re likely to continue succeeding. The fitness and healthcare sectors will continue to benefit from this technology, but why?

The fitness industry is booming. People are crazy about getting fitter and looking their best, which happens to be a saving grace for the likes of Fitbit and Garmin.

I know what you’re thinking, “But didn’t you say AI and mobiles will take over?”. Well, the reason that it won’t here is because we can’t accurately monitor our fitness without being physically connected to our devices. We need our heart rate and time exercising to be constantly monitored in order for us to get a true understanding of how healthy our lives are. Yes, you can get mobile apps that track some elements, but they’re no match.

The healthcare industry also re-opens opportunities for manufacturers of wearable technology when it comes to patient monitoring. For the first time in this blog, here’s where wearables have an advantage over AI.

Although artificial intelligence gives hospitals the ability to monitor to health of patients living in their own homes, it doesn’t let them know how they are coping when they’re out-and-about. Wearables on the other hand allow us to monitor a patient’s health 24/7. By connecting wearables using IoT, this technology allows us to analyse the health of those who are most vulnerable (e.g. the elderly) whilst freeing up hospital beds.

Wearables in the future

So what does the future hold for this technology? We’ve already seen a huge decrease in interest when it comes to wearables and this will continue to occur unless there’s a drastic change. AI is far more dominant in the sector at this current time and we’re likely to see more devices such as Amazon Echo making their way into our homes in the near-future. That being said, new wearables will continue to make their make their debut, but it will almost certainly be on the backburners compared to newer technologies – especially as IoT and M2M providers such as InfiSIM begin to embrace AI.

What do you think about the future of wearable technology? You might use it every single day or you might avoid it like the plague; either way, we’d love to hear your opinion!

 

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