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What next for the wearables technology market?

When popular culture has imagined the technology of the future, it has often conceived of it as being seamlessly integrated into our clothes and accessories and working in tandem with all of our senses. 

Think about the glove-controlled touch screens in Minority Report, James Bond’s gadget based watches, the TV glasses from Back to the Future and Iron Man’s incredibly impressive suit of armour, all of which depict the future as one where the relationship between humans and technology grows ever closer. 

Although we may not yet have developed an invulnerable battle suit that allows you to fly at supersonic speeds, there is a great deal of interest in the current wearable technology market. Here we take a look at what comes next for the industry.   

Smart watches

Smart watches are definitely an area in which a lot of companies are focusing their efforts. As digital technology has shrunk and we’ve been able to fit greater potential into smaller devices, it has become possible to increase the functionality of watches and pack in a variety of new features. The most obvious examples of this are the Apple and Samsung new smart watch ranges. 

While the technology is certainly interesting, whether or not watches will play an important role in the future of wearables remains to be seen. In many ways, smart watches are a good way for the general public to get accustomed to wearable technology.

They’re an accessory that most people own and regularly wear, they don’t make you look strange or stand out in a crowd and they’re big enough that you can fit quite a bit of tech inside. 

Rather than representing the pinnacle of what is achievable with wearable technology, they’re a good means of breaking the wearable idea to customers. While they may prove important in the short term future, there are bigger and better plans for wearable tech in the long run.

Health-based wearables

Health-based wearables are also growing in popularity. Able to measure your heart rate, count your steps or record how many calories you burn, the technology has proven successful amongst those on a fitness kick. However, the real future of health-based wearables lays in medicine and in more rigorously scientific uses. 

For instance, wearable technology is being developed to build smart hearing aids with customisable settings, sunglasses that constantly assess your eyesight performance and biometric shirts that measure everything from your heart rate to breathing volume. There’s a big future for health-based wearables, though it may be that the most important products are aimed at the health industry and professionals rather than the general public.  

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has experienced an explosion of interest in recent months, with the release of Oculus and Gear VR in particular pushing the technology into the mainstream. It has also been helped by the popularity of augmented reality apps and games like Pokemon Go. 

Although VR headsets are currently quite bulky, it won’t be long before sleek and streamlined models enter the market and VR becomes more of an everyday technology. With the potential to revolutionise the way individuals and businesses interact with technology, VR is likely to be the most important type of wearable technology going forwards.  

Hopes and concerns for the future

Finally, it’s important to talk about what hopes and concerns the industry has for its own future. In many ways, there is much to be positive about. The value of the wearable tech market is expected to surpass $72 billion by 2021  and many believe the industry will become increasingly important in years to come. However, there are also a number of concerns. For instance, shares in popular fitness-tech manufacturer Fitbit fell 33% in a single night at the start of November 2016 due to worry that the public’s interest in wearables has peaked.  While this is most likely an anomaly, there are further concerns regarding data security and the public’s perceived unwillingness to experiment with new devices.

The future of wearable technology does appear to be a bright one, requiring a diverse range of skilled technology personnel. With new products constantly coming to market and with an air of excitement surrounding many of the launches, the sector can open the door to a diverse range of roles and career opportunities.

Read our related blog: Wearables in the workplace
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