Wearable tech has been called the next big thing by many people for the past little bit. In the past few years it has exploded, there’s Google Glass, Google Watch, iRing, Nike FuelBand, Fitbit Force, Jawbone UP, Facebooks Oculus VR and the list goes on.
So just how big is wearable tech becoming?
According to Markets and Markets, the wearable tech market will be worth between 8-12 billion dollars by 2018, that number does however pale in comparison to the American smartphone market which is worth around 140 billion dollars currently. These numbers have not turned business away from looking into and investing in the wearable tech sector.
Wearable tech in business
An interesting example of industry and wearable tech meeting, is actually the energy and resources sector where oil companies have found interesting new ways to use wearable tech. On the oil fields, workers are given long checklists and workflows that they need to go through and many of these tasks require their full concentration and both hands which is where paper and tablets can cause problems.
A San Francisco based company Wearable Intelligence created software for Google Glass that is entirely voice controlled which allows the employee both hands to complete the task. The software can also record everything the worker is doing, take video, go through checklists, and record ambient information. This allows a manager to go through the information at the end of a day and ask more informative questions as to why a task took so long, and provide more information if something goes wrong while completing the task.
A second example is Tesco a UK retailer which started fitting out it’s warehouse employees with armbands that record their movements within the warehouse, and give them tasks to complete. A small display provides analytical information and feedback to the employee and employer. Through the use of this technology Tesco has increased efficiency and now requires 18% less employees in their 40,000 square foot warehouse.
Wearable tech and consumers
According to Mobile Health News, Fitbits, Jawbone UPs, and Nike FuelBands accounted for 97 percent of all smartphone-enabled activity trackers sold in 2013. Health and fitness is one of the biggest sectors where wearable tech is becoming increasingly popular.
Another industry where wearable tech is making big gains is the music festival industry. This year Digital Dreams went cashless, every attendee was given a wristband that could have money put on it to make all purchases at Digital Dreams the wristbands were also used as the tickets to enter the festival. In future event organizers might be able to do more data capture on festival goers through their wristbands, this obviously would start to raise personal privacy questions but it seems to be the direction we’re headed.
One problem that is plaguing wearable tech creators is that people do not continue to use it after they have purchased it. One third of Americans that own wearable technology will stop using it after six months. Also the tech is not capable of much other than tracking heart rate, distance traveled, calories burned and a few other small statistics, and because battery life is not very long wearable tech is still not being as heavily adopted.
What does this all mean?
Although wearable tech is making increasing gains in the business and consumer markets it still has a long way to go in terms of technological advancements before widespread adoption happens.