Wearable technology has evolved to become more prominent and accessible than ever before. From the fiercely competitive smartwatch market to the advanced field of medical tech, the world of wearables can provide significant benefits for not just consumers but also industries, companies and developers worldwide looking to take advantage of these capabilities.
With a global market size estimated to have reached USD 47.89 billion in 2021, how can individuals, organisations, and governments realise the full potential of wearable tech capabilities?
Why has the wearable market surged in recent years?
From leading technologies such as the Apple Watch to the innovative field of virtual reality, the wearable market has exploded in recent years to become a significant sector within the tech industry.
Experts commonly associate the rise of the wearable market with a combination of two factors:
The miniaturisation of important tools
From GPS tracking to heart rate monitoring, wearable technology developers are now able to fit daily tools in objects such as rings, watches, and even necklaces.
This evolution into miniaturisation gives users access to sophisticated tools in portable, accessible formats – such as discreet GPS tracking in jewellery, portable and non-obstructive health monitoring, and rapid contactless payments.
Evolving user sophistication
As consumers realise the full potential of wearable technology, their needs and demands naturally start to adapt and drive greater innovation. In response, competing developers rush to break the boundaries of current capabilities to stay ahead of other contenders – a factor responsible for Fitbit’s rise and Jawbone’s fall.
With significant potential and millions of users worldwide, wearable technology shows no sign of slowing. But how can we take full advantage of wearable capabilities, and what does the future of wearable tech look like?
How can sectors take advantage of the wearable market?
From sports and entertainment to healthcare and accessibility, the potential use cases for wearable technology in 2022 and beyond seems limitless.
Perhaps the greatest consumer-focused application of wearable technology is within the fitness industry, where the real advantages of wearable tech such as watches and chest monitors have been harnessed.
Athletes are now able to freely track fitness metrics such as heart rate, pace, and progress from the comfort of their wrist or phone, providing them with more data and information than ever and enabling them to adapt their training to ensure optimal performance. What’s more, with increasing digital capabilities, some organisations such as OliveX are combining the entertaining and diverse realms of gamification with the world of fitness wearables to better appease active gamers.
But these health tracking tools aren’t restricted to use within sports and fitness environments. There have also been rapid gains made within the medical world for developing wearable tech, with more commercially available solutions being realised all the time for use in sectors such as emergency services and policymaking.
Health monitoring for response teams and emergency services
Wearable health tracking could play a significant role in the field of emergency response and monitoring. Analysing the vital signs and current health of response teams or emergency service crews, wearables can alert operators to impending health issues such as dehydration and overheating to proactively mitigate risks before they cause serious injury or errors.
Wearables may also be used to monitor users for ongoing signs of high stress levels, fatigue, or exhaustion to provide a holistic overview of current wellbeing that can help facilitate future strategic decisions.
Within the real world, the health monitoring applications of wearables can save lives. Learn more in our blog,
Mental health and wearables
As well as using wearable technology to understand and interpret your physical health, many organisations such as Koa Health are also exploring the possibilities of using wearable tracking to monitor and suggest the mental health of users.
This is done by focusing on the physiological indicators of mental health and wellbeing alongside data entered voluntarily by the user. Erratic heart rates, lack of sleep, muscle tiredness and soreness, and raised temperatures are all examples of this. As the monitoring capabilities of wearable devices develop, so does the potential for greater insights.
The opportunities of wearables within policymaking
For governing bodies and policymaking, the health monitoring capabilities of wearable devices could theoretically guide insight and reinforce decision-making. Data collected and analysed accurately from wearables could encourage more targeted and informed strategies for protecting public health.
For example, with an anonymised and secure overview of the health, and other vital metrics, of large segments of the population, risks such as pandemics, outbreaks, or other health issues could be proactively identified before they occur, allowing policies to be introduced to mitigate their impact.
As an interesting thought experiment, these considerations demonstrate the power of data wearable monitoring capabilities and showcase. To learn more about how sports apps are taking advantage of wearables, read our Zoazi case study here.
Variability and the wearable market
Although wearable technologies and their applications have accelerated in recent years, significant obstacles persist.
One of the greatest challenges facing the wide range of use cases we’ve discussed, as well as the continued innovation of wearable technology, is that of the immense variability in results.
Data collected through wearable devices is subject to a significant amount of variation that can affect accuracy, as multiple users of the same device may have different wrist sizes, chest width, and even device placement – with each factor impacting the data retrieved.
As wearables continue to become an increasing factor in our lives, we look forward to seeing how innovations in this field overcome the issue of variability to provide us with refined and precise results regardless of the user or location of the wearable.
What’s next for wearables?
It’s no secret that wearables are becoming more and more commonplace, with a diverse array of use cases to benefit our everyday lives. In the future, we expect to continue witnessing more wearables taking a prescriptive stance – able to proactively identify health risks and suggest preventative measures to mitigate risk and impacts.
With more use cases than ever before, now expanding far beyond personal use, we’re also interested to see how wearable technology will begin to play a key role in civil and government applications.