Wearable Technology Shows Promise

7/23/2013

Connected technology is popping up everywhere these days, but soon you may be wearing your devices instead of carrying them. The field of wearable technology is embedding intelligent devices into items such as watches, glasses, shirts, and socks. These devices are designed to provide added information about the body or the surrounding environment, and they are also keeping consumers ever more connected. 

Wearable tech is already here in the form of smartwatches, such as Pebble, www.getpebble.com. The goal is to bring smartphone functionality to the wrist. Other devices in development, such as Google Glass, aim to provide information in front of the eyes, in an always-on format.

Recently, Beecham Research, www.beechamresearch.com, and Wearable Technologies Group, www.wearable-technologies.com, announced a new report that focuses on the wearable technology market. The report looks into the potential for these devices with consumers, and it comes to the conclusion that some current products are “too narrowly focused to address a far larger total marketplace.”


Robin Duke-Woolley, CEO of Beecham Research, commented though the market shows development and potential, more work needs to be done to bring together value-chain partners. Standardization and interoperability were also cited as factors that are helping the market to grow.

A report from IMS Research, www.imsresearch.com, says 170 million wearable devices will be shipped in 2016. Connected devices designed to be worn by consumers are already becoming available in a wide array of areas.

For instance, BLACKSOCKS, www.blacksocks.com, is a Swiss company that sells socks featuring embedded RFID technology. Each sock contains a small RFID tag. The consumer uses the Sock Sorter RFID reader device to identify each sock and pair it up with its mate. First, the user needs to scan all pairs with the device to create a log. When the reader identifies a sock’s mate, the app sounds an audible alert. 

A number of companies are focusing on the wearable tech market. Thalmic Labs, www.thalmic.com, is a startup that wants to provide a gesture control solution for wearable tech. The company’s flagship product, called MYO, use the electrical activity in the muscles to wirelessly control a computer, phone, or other devices.

Worn on the arm, the MYO measures electrical activity in the muscles, allowing it to anticipate gestures. Thalmic Labs says the MYO requires no camera to sense movements, which allows the user more freedom to move around. The company anticipates developers will use MYO APIs (application programming interfaces) to create new applications incorporating MYO technology.

It seems the sky is the limit for new wearable technology. If companies can develop products that improve consumers’ lives, while also providing an easy-to-use experience, wearables could be the next wave of the connected revolution.

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