#wearabletech

Will 2016 be the Year of the Wearable? A look at Wearables Trends & Predictions

 

2014 is the year of the wearable. 

No, wait.  Scratch that; it didn’t happen.

2015 is the year of the wearable.

No, wait.  Scratch that; it didn’t happen.

2016 is the year of the wearable.

No, wait.  Scratch that; it won’t happen either!

What?  Aren’t you the guy who wears two smart watches?  Isn’t this your annual wearable technology predictions update? Yes, I am and yes, it is.  But I’m also not lulled in by the seductions of wearable hype.  The wearables market is experiencing a fun and interesting journey; it is a market going places, although there are a few areas where it seems to be pulling in two directions and I’ll mention three of them.

There are things happening really fast that are awesome.  But at the same time there are also things happening slower than eager technologists and early adopters would like (generic, yes, but I’ll get there don’t worry).

There are experiences that are being delivered that are wonderful.  But at the same time there are also some questionable experiences.

There are richer wearables use cases, user interfaces and user experiences.  But at the same time there are also still a few folks out there disconnected from markets producing irrelevant use cases (their strategic marketing content also may not be market relevant) and the UI and UX may also be lagging behind.

Three is enough to demonstrate; each of these could merit its own blog post.  Let’s take a look at the 10 predictions and see where we are today with some of the companies in the 2014 Industry Watch.  Note, I said some.  I heard you after last year’s lengthy update, Wearables Dirty Laundry.  This update is half the size even though there is probably twice as much that should be covered.  Please enjoy this summary and highlights with a few deeper embellishments where some real battles are being won and/or lessons being learned.

Prediction #1

Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs. (click to view original 2014 Industry Watch)

Status

We are getting closer!  As time is going on, the fad devices are fading.  Consumers are becoming more aware of wearable tech.

In the buy sell arrangement of retail, consumers have all of the power.  What is that power?  Purchasing power.  They will not exercise it unless they perceive that a product is relevant and creates sufficient value for them.

Early adopters have a different value equation than later stage adopters.  Entrepreneurs as well as large corporates are taking the lessons learned from early adopters and applying them to satisfy more needs. Some are doing this faster than others. This prediction applies generally to the general market trend so for it I have laid out several company/product examples.

Misfit

Misfit announced Misfit Ray and Specter since the 2015 update (Wearables Dirty Laundry).  Ray is a wrist worn wearable, it fits the traditional mold Misfit became famous for.  It is a sleek and beautiful wearable.

But, just like when they introduced a light bulb, I have questions about Misfit’s strategy with Spector, which is due out some time in 2016.  Specter is a set of “wireless” ear headphones that also track activity (note the air quotes, they’re important later).  So far so good and not far off the beaten path, right?  I’m not so sure.

Misfit claims Spector also tracks sleep duration and quality.  Yes. Sleep.  They expect you to wear your earphones when you sleep.  Now I don’t want to be biased because I personally don’t want to sleep with earphones.  Why don’t you have a look at this image and decide if you want to sleep with it.

MisfitWirelessHeadphonesWithWires

 

Now back to those air quotes.  This doesn’t look exactly wireless to me.  Redefining wireless to mean something with wires that doesn’t use wires to talk to your phone is a bit of a stretch.  Mix in sleep with these wires and my gut tells me this may not be the best idea.  Perhaps they have some strategic insight into their customers and target market that indicates that the product should be used in sleep situations.  But if they don’t have the qual or quant, then the function is not relevant and should be removed from the advertising content.

Google Glass

Google Glass is evolving.  It is becoming an enterprise solution with an enterprise grade experience.  There is little solid info I can write here because my sources all can’t speak publicly on this.  But what is public is the message on the Glass homepage, “Thanks for exploring with us.  The journey doesn’t end here.”

Glass

APX Labs

APX Labs is still kicking it in an awesome way.  Anyone who has met Brian Ballard, Founder & CEO, knows why.  The leadership in the space is getting noticed and the messaging resonates.  How so?  Let’s look at their home page.

APXLabs

What do you notice?  I notice strategic relevance to the market.  “A new way to work” catches the eye and is then backed up with “We help your employees where it matters the most.”  That is powerful relevance.  That is showcasing that wearables satisfy customer needs.

Epson

Epson is now taking pre-orders for its new Moverio BT-300 glasses, which launched at #MWC16.  The BT-200 is still available for $699.99.  The enterprise BT-2000 headset is also available for $2,999.99. What do all of these do?  They create real value by satisfying consumer needs, thus the quick mention here.

Note that Epson is one of many large corporates delivering real value in enterprise wearable tech.

Samsung

Samsung announced their seventh watch during the year that has passed since the last wearables review, the Samsung Gear S2.  I can’t really judge it because I haven’t used it, but the features list is impressive.  If you’re not in the Apple ecosystem for your mobile device, this may be a good choice for you.

Prediction #2

Where wearables are silo solutions now, in the future they will be better integrated with other wearables and the wider Internet of Things. Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch)

Status

Device silo barriers are still a challenge; however, progress is being made as the market shifts toward an ecosystem that is more open and interoperable.  This is happening far quicker than other industries, such as IoT enabled intelligent buildings, where incumbent solutions were designed and built to last 30 years in many cases.

An obvious leader in this space that was not included in the research on this particular prediction in the past is Apple and the Apple Watch.  The release of OS2 for Apple Watch enabled growth in the ecosystem of apps that link the watch to other devices.  Moreover, Siri is capable of controlling HomeKit compatible devices.  I see a lot of promise in this area in the future both with Apple as well as other key players, even if tech analyst and insiders wish the watch did more.

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. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

This is still one of the more interesting predictions and it is still a challenge to see it clearly happen.  Here are three examples.

Sensum

My most favorite company in this by far is still Sensum. Since discovering them and meeting Gawain Morrison, Sensum’s CEO, a couple years ago, I’ve grown fond of the product, the solution and the people.  But don’t take my word for it, Morrison explains it best in this clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZws5GUD6SI

Apple Watch

Apple Watch leverages sensor data in itself and another device (the mobile phone’s GPS). But this isn’t the same scale this prediction is really referring to.  Yes, it creates more value, but at the same time many people want a watch with a GPS in it.  I anticipate we’ll see more wrist worn devices in the future with both GPS and GSM, but I’m not adding that as prediction #11, just saying this is where it is going.

Wearable Textiles

Wearable textiles have advanced tremendously in the past year.  Those in the space, especially those providing precision clothing solutions for athletes, are extremely bullish on the sensor and data fusion that will occur.  I’ve compared wearables to zippers that were also cost prohibitive and the market didn’t imagine the ubiquity of zippers in pants today.

 Prediction #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. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

I still think we’re on track with this prediction but will only talk about a solution from one company, Apple.  Rumors of a new version of the Apple Watch that include more advanced sensors that were pulled from the first version because of accuracy issues are becoming more prevalent.  I don’t think that this is because of people repeating what they’ve heard and putting their own spin on it.  My sources lead me to believe there will be more sensors.  My hope is that they’re consistently more accurate than what is experienced with the heart rate in the current version of the Apple Watch.

Prediction 5

The cost of sensors will continue to go down, thus enabling more uses and innovation with sensors in wearable devices. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

This is happening and we’re also beginning to see the prices of wearable types that have been on the market drop.  For example, you can get a Phyle Phrm38bk Heart Rate Monitor Watch for only $22.13 at WalMart.  Obviously this is not a brand people are familiar with, or an experience most people would be satisfied with, but the fact of the matter is that the sensors inside it are going down in cost.  For devices where prices have not yet gone down as sensor costs have gone down, there is a different value equation where the data and insight are being leveraged to improve the product, so we can’t expect the prices of everything to go down.

Prediction #6

Wearable devices will need less frequent charging because of better energy storage and lower energy consumption. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

I started off last year’s update with this, “The battery technology in use in most wearables today is about 20 years old.”  One year later we haven’t seen any new miracle batteries come to market.  I wish I had more to say here.  A lot of people were tossing around a lot of fluff this time of the year last year about the Apple Watch.  Most people who purchased it in 2015, including myself, have no issue with charging it every night.  Yea, it would be nice, but we’re not there yet so we’ll get by charging frequently.

Prediction #7

People are going to use wearable technology to make a statement about who they are. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

This is by far one of the best winners in the past 12 months.  So many people are finally on board with designing wearables that actually fit the user expectations for beauty.  My favorite is WiseWear.  Jerry Wilmink, WiseWear’s Founder & CEO, has a team and a strategy no one is going to be able to beat.  He started with beautiful womens bracelets with simple functionality built in and has secured the mentorship and endorsement of fashion legend Iris Apfel.

IMG_9654

At #CES16 WiseWear announced their men’s belt and buckle.  It’s a statement.  The design is impeccable throughout, including the special clasp with the WiseWear brand’s W built right into it (see more on that here). Thank you Jerry for leading the world in this area!

Prediction #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. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

This is where the world is getting more technical and more amazing.  Last fall mCube, announced the world’s smallest 3 axis accelerometer.  At only 1x1mm and 75% smaller than the 2x2mm accelerometers on the market before its announcement, this sensor is a welcome addition to the wearable producer’s toolkit.

mCube isn’t alone in developing smaller sensors that will enable wearables to fit seamlessly in our lives but they’re the only ones included here not because of time constraints but because they’re approachable.  They’ve welcomed me to their office multiple times and we’ve enjoyed conversations about the status of the market and the future, whisperings of which they love to hint at (no big secret, they are great with monolithic MEMS and things are getting smaller).  I am bullish that sensor tech will get small enough to be seamlessly integrated in our wearable tech infused lives. It will be due, in large part, to great leadership in this space by mCube.

Prediction #9

The debate around ownership of wearables-generated data will continue. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

The hottest story on privacy right now is Apple vs FBI.  Of course this is not related directly to wearables but the outcome of this case and the debate will have ramifications in the wearable space, especially since Apple produces the most popular wrist worn computing wearable the world is aware of.  Ponder this comment by US President Barak Obama at SXSW earlier this week, “I am of the view that there are very real reasons why we want to make sure the government cannot just wily-nilly get into everyone’s iPhones or smartphones that are full of very personal information or very personal data.”

I won’t be surprised to see stories in the future where wearable data is hacked and data is used to expose things like health information and physical activity, including sexual activity, of celebrities or public figures. Society as a whole, though, won’t care about this a few months after the story breaks, as is the case today with the Ashley Maddison hack last summer.

Prediction #10

Contextual awareness will be enabled by wearable device adoption and become the next big thing in marketing and customer experience. (Click to view original 2014 Industry Watch).

Status

The topic of contextually appropriate wearables is not ever going to be the topic of conversation at parties; however, the magic contextually aware wearables will make most certainly will be when the wearables enable experiences that are context appropriate.  Disney is the leader in contextual experiences; the Magic Band is magic because of context. Dig in on the Magic Band if you’re learning about it for the first time here.

When it comes to context I could go on and on on this topic, but will only point at some of the trends enabling context and  enabling technologies such as BTLE.

 

 

 

Videos with 7 of The Luxury Technology Show Exhibitors

Awesome venue, people and tech sums up the Luxury Technology Show at W Hollywood last week.  But you don’t have to take my word for it; check out these short video interviews of 7 of the impressive technologies that were on display at the show.

Jerry Wilmink, CEO of WiseWear knocks it out of the park with BEAUTIFUL wearable jewelry.  (want to learn more about how Jerry is giving the world options over current ugly, nerdy wearabletech check out this piece)

Michelle from 4mons.com demos the mamaRoo seat and origami stroller, tools for the tech friendly parent

Joe from Elan Home Systems is a man after my heart because he wants to make the smart home so easy that grandma can use it.

Segway has met it’s match with the ultra-low form factor of Hovertrax and Solowheel by Inventist. See it demoed by Joalene Jolivette, Marketing Director at Inventist

Technology to help regrow hair? Find out more from Fran & Marina from HairMax. The lasers stimulate the hair follicles but, unfortunately, don’t work fast enough for me to show you before and after head shots.

Megan Johnson from Sengled tells about their three connected light bulbs. Pulse plays music through up to 8 connected. Boost boosts your Wi-Fi. Snap has an HD camera inside for outdoor lighting and security.

Making the kitchen smart by infusing technology into the pan? Yes, that is what Prachi and Rahul from SmartyPans will do.  Catch SmartyPans at Michael Wolfe’s Nov 5 event: The Smart Kitchen Summit

Pasadena Becomes IoT Capital of the World Next Week

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Next Monday and Tuesday Pasadena, CA becomes the IoT Capital of the world with the GizWorld LA conference in the Pasadena Convention Center with special guest, City of Pasadena CIO Phillip Leclair.  I have a 50% discount code for you below.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, something I recommend that you do, then you’ll know that I am heavy into planning the global series of conferences for GizWorldConf.com. Everything at GizWorldConf is focused on the Internet of things. The Internet of Things is changing and it is changing rapidly. Why is that? People are beginning to understand that the Internet of things is more than hype and it is actually a value generating tool. It has implications for generating value in all areas of enterprise and stands to be the most disruptive innovation since the Industrial Revolution.

During next week’s event I will moderate two value-driven sessions and participating in a Fireside Chat with MediaTek.  The two panels are:

  • How Smart Cities will make our cities greener, more connected and safer
  • Successful Business Models for IoT

I am looking forward to engaging with the Internet of things entrepreneurs and leaders that are participating in the conference next week. One of those is Jerry Wilmink, founder and CEO of WiseWear who I’ve written about here on my blog and here on FashNerd.com because #WearableTech should and can be beautiful and seamlessly integrated into life. If any of you are in the LA area and would like to meet feel free to reach out (easiest way to get me is probably Facebook).

If any of you are interested in participating in the conference and would like a last-minute deal on an expo or marketing package, please let me know and I’ll be happy to set you up. The attendee registration link & code are: GizWorldConf.com and code IOTLA50 for a 50% discount.

Should We Give Up On WearableTech?

There are some inaccuracies in wearable technology. Take this example from my Apple Watch during this weekend’s 17.5 mile ride on the Los Gatos Creek Trail:

AppleWatch Multiple HeartRates

The one on the right is correct.  When I saw it was 56 I dried under the watch with my shirt and it quickly re-registered with a more appropriate reading for someone who just hauled himself up a hill.

What do we do? Do we give up on ‪#‎wearabletech‬ because of inaccuracies like this? No. It has nuances but still generates enough value to justify the cost.

How does it generate value? It’s the little things that counts. Seeing the current temperature, my next appointment and the date at a glance are all little things that add value.  Over the weekend I was busy at the kitchen sink with wet hands and someone called me.  Have you ever stuffed a wet hand into a pocket to fish for a phone?  If you do get it out, do you think about the people who have dropped phones in kitchen sinks?  With the watch I simply touched my wrist with my wet pinky finger and took the call.  Another little thing.

In reality, though, I don’t want to have to touch the watch.  I want to say ‘Hey Siri answer the call’ and be totally hands free.  Even though voice as the preferred interaction isn’t there for this use case, the wet pinky beats drying hands, pulling out the phone to see who it was and then answering.  But, little things, remember, and the value add with the current experience is a little thing.

You can set the Apple Watch up to do some pretty cool things with other IoT devices and services that add even more value.  With an IFTTT rule I can flick my wrist and say “Hey Siri: Text Phillips Hue ‪#‎off‬” then hit send and moments later my connected bulbs will shut off. Pretty cool, unless you’re my wife and at home using the lights while I’m out showing off at tech meetups – sorry honey. But you know what would be even cooler?  If I didn’t have to touch the watch to send the text.  Perhaps Apple can get a setting for that incorporated into the watch OS soon.  But even if that doesn’t happen in the near term, there are still enough little things that the watch does to justify its daily placement on my wrist.

Touring the Target and Sears Smart Home Concept Stores

Both Target and Sears have smart home concept stores full of consumer #IoT devices.  Check out these video tours of their retail experiences for a glimpse at what the #ConnectedHome can do for you.

Target: Video taken on Friday, September 4, 2015

Learn more about solutions available at the Target concept store at OpenHouse.Target.com.

 

Sears: Video taken Friday, August 28, 2015

Learn more about solutions available at the Sears concept store at Sears Connected Solutions.

Say Goodbye to Ugly, Nerdy WearableTech

To say design is important in wearable technology is an understatement; design is everything in wearable technology.  Why? Because people wear it and what people wear makes a statement about who they are.  This week I caught up with two entrepreneurs making it possible to make that statement with fashionable jewelry.

These gentlemen are leading teams creating fashionable wearable technology with designs that surpass any other fitness trackers on the market.  They are playing with a different set of rules.  Rather than working with materials and designs that easily accommodate technology, they are integrating technology into elegant designs and using materials that are figuratively and literally hard to work with.  Wireless signals cannot pass through precious metals; therefore, jewelry design involves tricks to making products that are beautiful and at the same time the design must allow for signals to be passed to and from a mobile device.

“We’ve been wearing jewelry for 75,000 years,” Gerald Wilmink, founder and CEO of WiseWear said.  What people haven’t been doing for those same years is wearing sensors.  Wearable technology entrepreneurs first attempts have been awkward and obtrusive resulting in gigantic rubber band like contraptions that have attempted to redefine what is acceptable to accessorize with.  The approach, however, is not well received by all consumers.  This is an opportunity for wearable technology to improve not just its capacity but its appeal.  “The next wave is truly integrating the sensors and electronics into everyday wear,” said Wilmink whose WiseWear Socialite collection provides fashionable selections through three different bracelet designs, the Calder, the Duchess and the Kingston.

Once wearable technology is integrated into everyday wear, it also needs to be made available to markets that will consume it.  “Career professionals are not going to buy a fashion accessory at an electronics store,” explained ViaWear Founder and CEO Ben Isaacson.  ViaWear’s Tyia bracelet line includes several different styles, finishes and bands and will be distributed in locations where jewelry is sold.  People who frequent jewelry stores and electronics stores aren’t typically the same demographic.  “The fashion forward demographic is waking up to smart jewelry,” Isaacson explained.

There is a relatively untapped market with needs that can be satisfied through beautiful wearable technology accessories and Isaacson and Wilmink are not alone in creating fashionable wearables for these customers.  Wearable fitness tracker maker Fitbit has partnered with luxury lifestyle brand Tory Burch to create Tory Burch for Fitbit.  When announcing their line of smart watches and bands last fall Apple boldly claimed, “There’s an Apple Watch for everyone.”   Others are also joining the race to make fashionable wearable technology in accessories and clothing.

Why make wearable technology fashionable?  Isaacson explains, “The fashion side is a given.  Nobody wants to wear something ugly anymore.”  To this point Wilmink also agrees, “We make sensors and electronics invisible.  You want the data but you don’t want to look like a nerd.”

Apple Watch Button vs Apple Watch

Which do you prefer?  I’m testing both.

IMG_6959

One has unlimited battery life, an always-on display and comes with a $20 price tag.

One has many more features and comes with a $400 price tag.

Here is the problem.  I have talked to three people who own the watch this week about their experience.  One occasionally wears it, one wore it for a month, one wore it for a week.  Is there a problem here?  What is it about this device that seems to be turning people off?  I really want to know because I’m starting the experience (now day 3).  I’m not convinced yet whether it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, if it is more like 10 day old stale gluten free bread when all you really want is a steak or if it is something in between.

Is the Apple Watch able to put technology to work for you? Can you persuade me?

You can reach me with your opinion, your experience, or if you just want to vent (or boast) about how the Apple Watch does or doesn’t enrich your life.  Also, if you’d like the button version I can hook you up.

Reach out

On Facebook

On Twitter

On LinkedIn

On the Contact Page

Or call/text me.  My number is (408) 466-xxxx where xxxx = the year I moved to Silicon Valley, 1997.  Good year.  Maybe I’ll answer your call with my watch…

Affective Computing

My latest comes to you via LinkedIn. Catch me 5/21/2015 at Stanford GSB where I’m co-chairing an ’emotional’ night.  Check out: Computers can know your feelings. How does that make you feel?

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