Get Smart With the Latest Wearable Technology Trends
From a heart monitor watch to a swimsuit that tells you to reapply SPF, these wearable technology trends will get you excited for the future.
Cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth communications opened the door for the advancement of mobile devices, and in particular, wearable technologies. Different from phones and tablets, wearable mobile devices attach to the body or are embedded in clothing. Some medical wearables are even implanted within the body.
While some wearable devices are designed more for function than aesthetics, current wearable technology trends combine fashion with function through connected clothing and jewelry.
Modor Intelligence predicts the wearable technology market to top USD $74 billion by 2026, increasing $46 billion from 2020. Industries sharing in the blossoming market, and the profits, include fitness, healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment, and wellness.
Smart devices and gadgets are in a high growth period, with tech giants and startups joining this innovative landscape. Let’s walk through some of the latest wearable technology trends available today, or still under development, and the technology that powers them.
Incredibly popular and versatile, smartwatches top the list of emerging wearable technology trends. Available on Apple and Android platforms, users benefit from a variety of functionalities including:
- Notifications that mirror a smartphone’s notification settings like email and text alerts
- Scheduling and organizational tools like alarms or appointment setting tools
- Apps like GPS mapping tools or fitness trackers
- Music, audiobooks, and streaming files synchronized with a smartphone or tablet
- Placing and receiving calls and text messages
General-purpose smartwatches offer a wide variety of functionality, while other smartwatches operate for specific use-cases like fitness trackers, biometric monitors, or physical activities like hiking or diving.
In the healthcare field, devices like the Apple Watch can track blood oxygen levels and take an electrocardiogram (ECG) that measures the user’s heart rate and rhythm in real-time. This data can alert the user of a potential cardiac event before it happens, and users can share the information with a healthcare provider for long-term monitoring and evaluation.
The list of manufacturers is growing, but the most popular smartwatches are Apple, Samsung, Garmin, FitBit (owned by Google), and Sony. To satisfy those with high-end tastes, Montblanc offers a luxury line of smart watches. These technology leaders use sensors to collect data and Bluetooth technologies to transfer that data from the wearable device to a mobile app.
Smart jewelry is also a burgeoning wearable technology trend and is convenient to wear. Adding smart technology to a ring, bracelet, or necklace allows wearers to track their activity or improve their well-being through vibration therapy or a reminder to meditate.
Some smart jewelry contains geo-tracking technology and alert systems. Tapping on the device notifies loved ones or emergency responders if the wearer needs help and transmits their location for faster response times.
One of the most popular connected jewelers, Oura designed a smart ring to provide wearers with 12 health scores from data captured throughout the day and night. The data helps users maintain balance in their life and achieve optimal mental and physical health.
Bellabeat creates smart jewelry for women that can be worn as bracelets or necklaces, or clipped to the wearer’s clothing. Their product line includes wearable devices for hydration and wellness tracking and can even track menstrual cycles.
A wrist wearable, the HeartGuide developed by OMRON Healthcare, includes an inflatable cuff on the band’s interior, allowing it to take clinically accurate blood pressure readings. While the device might look like a smartwatch, it’s the first wearable blood pressure monitor to hit the market.
Other smart jewelry is designed to monitor stress levels or sleep patterns, or even record voice memos. The functionality is almost as broad as the metals and gemstones used for these gadgets’ aesthetic design and appeal. And like smartwatches, smart jewelry is dependent on sensors to collect data for transfer to an app for processing, reporting, and storage.
The fitness industry leads the charge in the development of connected apparel. Whether a biker, runner, or gym rat, athletes enjoy the convenience of technology in their workout gear. From yoga pants to shirts to sports bras, smart garments designed for athletes track their biometrics, muscle contractions, and UV exposure.
Beyond the fitness world, healthcare and wellness also see a place for smart clothing in their industries. Siren created a connected sock designed to monitor foot temperature, which could indicate inflammation or injury. For patients with diabetes or neuropathy, early detection aids in reducing the progression of the foot condition to a more serious medical event.
Spinali Design, based out of France, created a line of swimwear to alert beach-goers when it’s time to get out of the sun or apply more sunscreen.
In keeping with the connection to UV rays, Spinali Designs is currently developing smart gloves that use the sun’s rays, in combination with titanium dioxide, to destroy bacteria on the hands. These disinfecting gloves purport to kill a variety of pollutants and viruses, including Ebola and COVID-19.
The technology behind smart clothing is meshed wiring woven directly into the fabric, embedded hardware, and Bluetooth connectivity that connects the data collected with a smartphone app.
Glasses, head-mounted displays, and Bluetooth headsets create the ultimate hands-free experience while enhancing personal and professional activities. Google Glass was all the rage in 2014, but ultimately the product didn’t find the right market fit. While Google’s smart glasses didn’t last long, they did inspire other startups to jump into the wearable market.
Vuzix leads the industry in augmented reality (AR) technology through its smart glasses product line. Focused on the manufacturing, field services, warehousing, and telemedicine industries, Vuzix uses AR to assist workers in training, improve efficiencies, and provide a platform for real-time collaboration.
Head-mounted displays use a technology called optical head-mounted display (OHMD) that projects reflections in the display, providing instruction or other information the user can see through. Users continue to see unobstructed reality but have the added benefit of additional, contextual information based on their current view.
Gaming, military, or aviation training exercises as well as surgical procedures often use virtual reality wearables. These devices create a virtual experience with which the user can interact in a risk-free environment.
Flip around display technology, and you’ll find head-mounted cameras providing a bird’s eye view of the action. Whether used in sports, recording personal events and activities, or assisting law enforcement, wearable cameras are available as headware or attached to the user’s clothing.
For underdeveloped countries with high infant mortality rates, Neopenda is developing a baby hat to measure temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood oxygen levels in newborns. A single tablet can monitor up to 24 baby hats, giving medical staff the ability to monitor a full nursery in a single glance.
humm is using neuroscience to create a wearable patch designed to boost memory and focus without the use of stimulants like caffeine. Scientists identified the brainwaves that affect human cognition and the humm patch stimulates these brainwaves to enhance theta waves (a type of brainwave) that improve memory and attention. Look for this product to hit the market in 2021.
Smart headwear uses the same Bluetooth communication as other smart devices and incorporates virtual and augmented reality, OHMD technology, and artificial intelligence (AI). Companies that use smart headwear as a training and collaboration tool can evaluate data and use AI to improve processes and train staff through others’ recorded and augmented experiences.
Stay Tuned for the Future of Wearable Technology Trends
When it comes to the internet of things (IoT), wearable tech has made its mark, positioning itself for continued growth into the foreseeable future. New products will continue to hit the professional and consumer markets as current tech leaders and startups innovate, explore, and create.
Wearable technology already has a sizable footprint in fitness and healthcare, from providing devices to enhance athletic performance to identify early signs of heart disease. Wellness wearables help us reduce stress, sleep better, and tend to our mental well-being and physical health. And for the fashion-forward, smart jewelry and connected apparel markets are on the rise.
When developing wearables, it’s important to consider the entire wearable ecosystem including the device itself, connections with smartphones or other systems, user onboarding, and data collection, analysis and reporting. Using an experienced development partner will help you define the entire scope of the work and tie all the pieces together into an elegant, holistic solution.
It’s an exciting time to be in the tech world, and especially to be building mobile and wearable tech. At December Labs we specialize in UX research, design, and development of cutting-edge technology for wearables in healthcare and more. We’d love to join your product team and collaborate on your next innovation. Email us today!