Google Glass

Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #3

This is the third post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Prediction #3: Companies that combine the information of multiple sensors in multiple wearable devices will create more value for their consumers than producers of single wearable devices.

Wearable Alpha:

It goes without saying that part of the reason for the platform announcements covered in Who to Watch for Prediction #2 is that these companies are motivated to create these platforms because there is greater value created if multiple devices integrate.  Machine to Machine (M2M) communication generates value because humans don’t have to be involved in passing information from one machine to another, something we used to do by hand, which was error prone, or with tapes and floppy disks, which was time consuming.  With wearable devices, the additional value that results combining wearable device information is what I call Wearable Alpha.  Wearable Alpha results when two wearables create more value for a user when integrated than when unintegrated.  Additional Wearable Alpha is created if the two wearable devices are also integrated with other IoT devices and services.

Wearable Alpha by WorkTechWork


While players in the wearable space, as well as the greater Internet of Things, should execute focused strategies leveraging their strengths to develop technology, players should not forget that integrated solutions will create more value than unintegrated solutions.  Moreover, players should build business models that extract part of the Wearable Alpha to generate returns for shareholders and investors.

Wearable to Wearable Integrators:

Wearable devices are still nascent technologies, with years to go before the market is fully mature.  We do not know today which wearable device solutions will be on the market in one year and new wearable solutions are coming out all the time.  With so much change it is hard to find companies working to gather data from two separate wearable devices, let alone communicate between them.

Sensoria:  People don’t usually wear more than one watch, but people do wear more than one article of clothing so some low hanging fruit in the multiple wearable space is smart clothing for fitness tracking.  Sensoria Fitness Socks  provide the most accuracy of any step counting wearable to also count altitude changes, distance and, more importantly for the expert runners, cadence, foot landing technique and weight distribution on the foot.  Sensoria also produces a sports bra and a tshirt for heart rate monitoring.  With smart socks and a heart rate monitor, an athlete is on the way to reaping the benefits of Wearable Alpha.

ThisPlace: ThisPlace created a software solution called MindRDR that combines the NeuroSky EEG brainwave sensor with Google Glass to control photo taking and sharing.  In other words, you can take a picture and post it online just by thinking.  Today there are only a few people who will benefit from the Wearable Alpha generated by this particular wearable to wearable integration scenario; however, this opens a whole plethora of opportunities for mind controlling IoT devices.

Sensum:  Sensum provides a platform that integrates data streams from multiple wearable devices and health sensors to analyze the emotional response to events.  This generates tremendous amounts of Wearable Alpha when analyzing marketing and other forms of digital media because now, instead of just watching responses through tinted windows and asking questions, observers can capture an accurate reading of emotional response.

Do you integrate sensor information from multiple wearable devices?  If so,  tell me about it in the comments below or reach out here and lets meet up and chat about your technology.

Wearable to Smart Phone Integration:

There are many solutions that connect a wearable device to the smart phone.  The smart phone itself is becoming in some instances a hub with wearable devices connected to it and in other instances a stepping stone from wearable to cloud.  Smart phones are being built with more and more sensors, some of the same sensors built into wearable devices.  As mentioned in Who to Watch for Prediction #1, smart phones can run apps such as the Moves App and gather information from these sensors.  For the “multiple sensors in multiple devices” portion of this prediction to be fulfilled with a smart phone integration, information generated from smart phone sensors must be used and result in Wearable Alpha.  As of this posting, I have not found a company doing this.  Do you integrate information from both wearable device and a smart phone sensors?

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #4

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #2

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Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #1

wearables-realistic-finalThis is the first post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Here is a special thank you to all the people, especially the busy startup founders and CEOs, who have taken time to discuss wearable technology solutions with me.  Your time is much appreciated as you have shared insights into your products, your position in the market and your invaluable industry insight.  This space is full of people who are creative, intelligent and passionate which makes me quite bullish on where wearables will go over the coming decade.  I look forward to the journey with you.

photo credit: Rani Molla/GigaOM

Prediction #1:  Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs.

Just because a company has a great kickstarter campaign, does not mean the product isn’t a fad adopted by the early adopter techie types.  So, first a look at companies that fall under Fad, then a look at those that satisfy as satisfying is key with this prediction.

Fad: Google Glass

Google Glass is not ready for the mass consumer as there are not a lot of use cases for when regular people in their personal lives have to get information when both hands are both full making it impossible, difficult or inconvenient to just grab a phone.  Some other indicators this is a fad are that Robert Scoble is not wearing it as often and Keith Teare has given his away.  There are meaningful uses for Glass and future generations of it in industrial contexts; however, Glass for the masses is a fad device, a ground breaking fad, but a fad nonetheless.

Fad: All Single-Purpose Wrist-Worn Fitness Trackers

It would be easy to say Nike’s Fuelband is going this route since it has cut production but I’m going to be bold and say that all wrist worn fitness trackers on the market that only track fitness activity will become fad devices within 10 years.  This includes Fitbit, NordicTrack iFit Active, Garmin Vivofit, Samsung Gear Fit, Jawbone UP, Basis and even Shine, the world’s most elegant physical activity monitor (but all is not lost for Shine, you’ll see it again in the upcoming post on prediction #7).

There are two things at play that work against wrist worn fitness trackers.  First, fitness tracking can be done on a smart phone with an app like Moves without the need for another device to remember to bring and to charge.  Moves comes at a much lower price point than a wrist band (unless you include the value of the data you’re giving up but that goes under prediction #9).   Second, other alternate wearable devices can potentially provide more accurate fitness tracking through wearables on body parts that don’t move as much as an arm (You’ll see an example of this, The Dash by Bragi, in in the upcoming post on prediction #8).

Satisfy: APX Labs

The number one company I’m watching in this space is APX Labs, whose software platform Skylight empowers workers in all kinds of business scenarios with hands-free access to real-time, task related contextual information from anywhere work can be completed.  Skylight works on several devices including Google Glass; so how can I still say Glass is a fad?  Because what APX is doing is really hardware agnostic and Glass, even in industrial instances is not the best piece of hardware to work with.  Just because early adopters in industrial use cases find Glass useful, does not make it any less of a fad device because of its inherent deficiencies, battery life being one of them.  There is a place for Glass in the annuls of technical innovation as a leader, but Glass will fade as a fad and newer, better devices will trump in the coming decade.  I’m anxious to watch what APX Labs will empower its customers to do with those devices.

Satisfy: Smart Watches

In the satisfy space I’m watching smart watches.  While time will only tell who will come out as the leader, and yes I’ll stop with the puns, these are the three I’m watching:

Samsung Gear Live

Moto 360 by Motorola

iWatch, iTime or whatever Apple names its device

One of the great features of smart watches is their integration with smart phones, which with their own set of sensors can almost be considered a wearable of their own.  People are accustomed to wearing watches to satisfy the need to tell time or to wear something fashionable.  Smart watches can satisfy these and other needs.

Satisfy: Others

Many other astute entrepreneurs are tackling the challenge of providing wearable devices that satisfy customer needs, some of which will be covered in the remainder of this industry watch series.  Do you have a wearable product that satisfies customer needs?  Tell me about it in the comments below or reach out here and lets meet up and chat.

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #2

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Wearable Technology: Fashion, Fad or Future?

I see them everywhere, pedometers, smart watches and Google Glass.  Of course, I am in the Silicon Valley and attend many technology related events so I expect to see at least a few extra devices a week but even outside the Silicon Valley, people are purchasing and using sensor enabled wearable technology.  This begs the question, in the world of technology solutions, is wearable technology fashion, fad or the future?

Answer:  All of the above.

Fashion encompasses not only clothing and hair styles, it includes accessories and even how one behaves.  If you’re donning Google Glass, you are making a fashion statement and it has not taken long for people to describe glass wearer behavior, glassholes beware.  Wearable technology devices such as pedometers are encouraging people to change their behavior to be more active.  In the health arena hundreds of ideas are being hatched to improve health by monitoring and suggesting changed behaviors.

Does anyone remember the cute electronic pets of the 90s?  Fad.  Some wearable devices entering the market today will fall into this category.  They will be here and then gone in a few short years, unlike other 90s devices such as those by Palm which led the way to the smart phones of today.  Those designing and launching wearable devices need to make sure their products are really useful or they will become no more than a fad.  Don’t take this as me saying fad-like wearables should not be developed and sold; these fad wearables are necessary to pave the way for the wearables of the future.  The businesses producing them are going to learn a great deal and pivot on to future ideas that will create the future of wearable devices.

A look at the future of wearable technology has me excited for all the ways technology will be working for people.  This leads me to these eight wearable future predictions:

1)      Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs.

2)      Where wearables are silo solutions now, in the future they will be better integrated with other wearables and the wider Internet of Things.

3)      Companies that combine the information of multiple sensors in multiple wearable devices will create more value for their consumers than producers of single wearable devices.

4)      Wearables will become more intelligent because of developments in sensor technology and the ability to translate data from these sensors into insight via analytics.

5)      The cost of sensors will continue to go down, thus enabling more uses and innovation with sensors in wearable devices.

6)      Wearable devices will need less frequent charging because of better energy storage and lower energy consumption.

7)      People are going to use wearable technology to make a statement about who they are.

8)      People are going to use undetectable wearable technology by using wearable ultra-sensitive micro sensors, sensors smaller and more sensitive than the innovative seat belt microphone in Audi’s R8 Spyder that enables clear cell phone conversation with the top down at lightning speeds.

See the introduction to Wearable Predictions 9 & 10 here: An Update on Wearables Predictions

See the Industry Watch for each prediction here:

Who to Watch for Prediction #1 Wearables Will Satisfy Customer Needs

Who to Watch for Prediction #2 Wearables:  Silo to Integrated w/IoT

Who to Watch for Prediction #3 Wearable Alpha: More value from multiple wearable devices and sensors

Who to Watch for Prediction #4 Analytics & Sensor Tech Improve Wearable Intelligence

Who to Watch for Prediction #5 Wearable Sensor Costs Decreasing

Who to Watch for Prediction #6 Energy: Improved Storage & Lower Consumption for Wearables

Who to Watch for Prediction #7 People to Make Statements with Wearables

Who to Watch for Prediction #8 People Use Undetectable Wearables

Who to Watch for Prediction #9 Wearable Data Ownership Debate

Who to Watch for Prediction #10 Wearables Enable Contextual Awareness

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