Making sense of the wearable market
The wearable market is undergoing a rapid evolution, which is driving innovation and influencing the time-to-market. From a usage experience, main drivers are fashion and personality choices that in turn drive requirements on form factor and usability. Further, monetization is moving from the device to services and thus driving big data / cloud analytics, a total ecosystem which is defined as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Health — There’s a saying, “sitting is the new smoking”, implying health risks for those who don’t exercise. We see companies issuing health insurance to push their customers to be more physically active in order to lower the risk of future health problems. In the wearable industry, activity devices are already being used to encourage the user to be more active, and there is growing interest in using data to support the reduction of insurance premiums for active users. This trend is to a large extent driven by companies that are supporting the premiums of their employees. In these cases, enterprise programs are launched and each employee gets an activity tracker “for free”. With these trackers, they are incentivized to be more active and the company can then save costs on the insurance premiums plus benefit from a healthier staff.
Fashion — The first generation of tech wearables was focused on function rather than fashion. Today, this is no longer the case, and fashion tech is here to stay. Wearables have become fashionable accessories in a range of styles, screens / no screens, material, and more. Wearables have been identified by fashion brands, OEMs, and watch makers as a growth area, and therefore, strategic investments are made to sustain this growth. Examples already underway include Fossil buying Misfit and HTC partnering with Under Armor. We see key watch brands (such as Casio, Citizen, Alpina) following this trend by integrating smart electronics in their products.
Social — Not only has it become trendy to be fit and track your progress on your own, but today we want to share our achievements after the exercise. A brand that recognized this upcoming trend already a few years back was GoPro when they introduced their action camera slogan “You’re the Hero”. Hence, products that track your physical performance results are required – not only for the sake of knowing the performance, but to actually show the world how good you are and to compare your performance with that of your peers.
User interface — We will also see significant changes to the user interface of wearables. Wearable technology users want to interact with the device via speech or even via image recognition. The devices thus need to evolve technically to satisfy the growing needs for interactivity with our personal senses.
Tracking — Wearables fit very nicely with our growing need for precise tracking of the whereabouts of our loved ones, while also offering educational and interactive content. The elderly, kids and pets can be fitted with real‑time accurate location tracking devices with convenient safety zone settings. For instance, Korean KIWI PLUS’ smartwatch offers such capabilities.
Time management — By enriching the experience and meeting desires to optimize our lives around the clock, we see new trends in the on-the-go-lifestyle time management. With the influx of wearable tech devices we gain insight on how to keep our lives on track.
Connectivity — Not only do we want to control our time, but also our everyday communication from emails and phone calls, or interact with our surroundings, such as the smart home. Intelligent wearables such as smart watches give us new connectivity tools that are ready when we are.
Augmented reality — The possibility to interact with a device for pleasure or enhanced virtual experience is a fascinating new trend; the Pokémon GO fever in 2016 clearly showed how we want to be on the go and experience new worlds. Augmented reality can change how we interact with the world around us – from location sensing personalized messages to personal interaction.