What, when & wear: The wearable revolution

There seems to be a constant mood of scepticism* in the wearables industry. Ever since they first appeared, and in spite of massive advances, people just love to say they’re not going to happen. Whilst I think the opposite ought to be clear to anyone who cares to look, I decided to address this directly.

Wearables are here to stay.

Ok, so the first smartwatches may not have lived up to the hype, and a lot of the early fitness bands were glorified pedometers, but this market has matured remarkably quickly and continues to do so. Today, everyone from established brands to start-ups are offering a vast range of products tailored for every conceivable use case or user.  From the most basic to the most advanced there are myriad options for wearables to suit any walk of life, and of course it’s not just watches. The Leaf lifestyle tracker is a tiny clip that attaches to your clothes to monitor sleep, movement and general health. Last year’s Wearables for Good winner, Khushi Baby, is a clever and secure necklace providing children in remote areas with a consistent medical and vaccination history. Levi and Google’s Project Jacquard aims to weave electronics right into the fabric of our clothing, making clothing the ultimate new (or old) wearable.

Personally, I played around with an early fitness band but found that as most of my exercise doesn’t involve simply walking or running, I didn’t get much useable data. So instead of heading straight for a chest strap to measure heartrate, calorie burning, fitness zones etc, I decided to wait for the industry to catch up with my needs. Of course that took no time at all and I now sit here typing with a built in, wrist mounted HR monitor telling me just how strongly I feel about the wearables revolution.

The Polar M600 sports watch is an awesome product, designed to provide premium activity data for the truly sporty. Powered by ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and Mali-400 Ultra-low power GPU it offers yet another set of specifications, including different profiles tailored to the exacting requirements of individual sports and activities for greater accuracy. Using the Android Wear operating system, the M600 makes it really simple to keep up to date with notifications, fitness goals and stats in the same way you would on your phone.

Samsung of course are well known in the wearables market with everything from Gear VR headsets to wireless headphones and, of course, their own range of smartwatches. Their latest offering, the Samsung Gear S3, takes things up a notch with the higher powered, ultra-efficient Mali-T720 GPU. Alongside extra graphics performance it offers a rotating bezel user interface for quick and easy app interaction. It’s also designed for the more rugged user, combining heavy duty water and dust resistance with wireless charging for grab and go simplicity.

It’s not just fitness either. Omate’s Wherecom K3 is a great example. For one thing, it’s not a fitness band per se, and it’s also targeting a very specific audience: kids. This band, powered by the Mali-400 GPU, uses the latest in GPS and location technology so that parents can always be sure where their children are even when they can’t be with them. Gone are the days of wondering whether they’ve missed the bus or if they’re coming straight home from school, with the K3 parents are able to afford their children more independence whilst still ensuring their safety.

Following on from that, Omate released the S3 for seniors. Designed with a simplified user experience for the less tech savvy amongst us (my mum would actually have a chance of working this), the S3 combines all the great features of the next gen wearable without ruling out an entire market segment by making it too top of the line to appeal. It has built in alarms which can be set to provide specific reminders about medication or appointments as well as a nifty SOS feature that allows the user to signal for help at the touch of a button. It can send out a GPS location and instantly alert your emergency contacts.

So not only is the wearables industry very much alive and well, but Business Insider thinks wearables sales could even surpass tablet sales in the vital Chinese market. They cite both the year on year growth of wearables in China as well as the buying intentions of consumers captured by Deloitte. Not only is there a much broader range of prices across the Chinese wearables market but there’s also consumer acceptance of the still evolving nature of wearables, with many consumers biding their time to get just the right product rather than writing off the industry altogether.

As more and more of these innovative solutions hit the shelves we’ll begin to see even greater value and I’ll be keeping you up to date with the latest advancements so you too can wear it your way.