Wearable Technology Trends to Watch Out For In 2017
2017 is set to be the year that wearable technology really comes of age and becomes more intrinsically integrated into our day to day lives than ever before.
At this year’s CES event it was clear that technology and clothing brands are focusing on developing the next wave of wearable technology to be more fashionable and less intrusive to wear. Until now there has been a reluctance from mainstream consumers to embrace wearable technology. One of the main reasons for this is that when wearables were first placed on the market they were created as a need for vendors to sell more gadgets, not to benefit consumers. Early iterations of wearables were also fairly ugly in terms of design (I’m looking at you Google Glass!)
With the exception of smart watches (which have seen mainstream adoption) the rest of the wearables industry is very much still in its infancy and in many ways it is still viewed as a niche market. But the reason that smart watches such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit have performed so well thus far is that not only are they small and unobtrusive to wear, they also add tangible benefits to the user’s lifestyle (especially from a health and well-being perspective)
So here are my thoughts on some of the most exciting wearable technology in 2017 and the impact they could have on the future of the wearables industry.
Glasses with video cameras are nothing new (I first saw this type of technology in use many years ago) But the difficulty has always been that consumers just felt stupid wearing them in public (I am looking at you again Google Glass!). Where Snapchat Spectacles seem to have broken the mold is that they actually look cool to wear. Snapchat have created their spectacles as a fashion accessory that would sit comfortably alongside any designer sunglasses — this in itself is a real leap for wearables as consumers will be proud to wear them (wearable glasses usually look slightly pervy as oppose to trendy!)
The glasses are also affordably priced and astutely marketed (at present you can only buy them from pop-up vending machines situated throughout the United States). Snapchat are trying to generate a buzz and a demand and test the market before they go on general sale. Although it’s unclear if the Spectacles will be a global success, Snapchat’s attempt at making wearables fashionable as well as functional it something brands will be taking notice of and keen to replicate. It will also be a catalyst for a huge surge in the trend of personal streaming, as consumers look to share their POV with the world.
I am lucky enough to own a HoloLens developer kit and have had the chance to experience first-hand what this mixed reality headset is capable of. The HoloLens places you in a beautifully realised augmented reality, the headset works using hand gestures and head tracking to place computer generated holographic images into your environment — the stunning visual are so realistic, they have to be seen to be believed.
But what really excites me about this technology is the unlimited amount of real world applications this technology is potentially capable of — from education (Imagine being transported to Roman times in history class), Health (a Doctor could explore your entire body without the need for invasive surgery) and pure entertainment value (Aliens coming out of your living room walls — who wouldn’t want that!) — The HoloLens really does bring augmented/virtual reality into our world in a truly visceral way, showcasing the true capabilities of the technology.
Although the headset won’t be cheap when it is released, many of the technologies will eventually filter down to more affordable headsets, so everyone can benefit from augmented reality. Over time this type of technology will become part of our everyday lives.
8K Flexwarm Heated Jackets
One of the things I am proudest of is the work we have been doing under our 8K clothing brand. Over the past 12 month’s we have been working hard to develop our range of heated jackets and gilets that contain our unique Flexwarm heating technology. The heating element is so thin (0.5mm) it can be printed and layered between the inner and outer shell, so it’s completely invisible to the person wearing the clothing but they still receive all of the benefits of the technology.
First and foremost, we really focused heavily on designing a range of outerwear that looks and feels great but they also have the USP that they can be worn anywhere, all year round. We wanted the jackets to appeal to anyone — fhill climbers, dog walkers or parents watching their children play football on a cold Sunday morning. (the technology adds real value to their experiences)
As mentioned previously, brands can no longer produce what they consider to be cool wearable tech and expect consumers to buy it just for the novelty factor — technology has to add benefit to their lives. That is why we focused on created on creating a stylish range of clothing with the added benefit that it can heat to 50c in seconds and you can control the temperature via an app on your smartphone — the aim was to seamlessly bring fashion and technology together to enhance the consumers lifestyle.
NFC Ring (Second Generation)
The second generation NFC ring has really taken advantage of recent developments in near-field communications. The team behind the ring bill it as ‘One Smart Ring, Unlimited Possibilities’.
The ring gives you the ability to securely unlock your smartphone, lock and unlock your door, share and transfer information (such as wi-fi information, links to pictures and websites) and thanks to a recent partnership with Visa you can now use it to make payments and it is waterproof up to 50 meters.
The NFC ring is set to be released this summer and is going to be priced at a very reasonable $50 when it is released in the US. At this price point, the product will be accessible to a wide audience.
Credit must also go to the design team because they have put a lot of emphasis on making the ring look like a stylish piece of jewellery, unless someone told you there would be no giveaways that it was a piece of wearable technology. The success of this smart ring will create a surge in design led wearable jewellery for many years to come.
I believe that the big breakthrough for wearables will happen over the course of 2017 and it will be accomplished by brands finally managing to bring fashion and technology together seamlessly to perfectly enhance the life of consumers. A lifestyle first approach will result in a more cohesive relationship between wearables and consumers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Scott Brenchley is CEO and Founder of Tactus Ltd, 8K Xtreme and also CEO of Flexwarm Europe — Global leader in integrated wireless technology. With over 20 years’ experience in the technology sector, Scott has extensive insight into these fast moving markets and the latest products, trends, and developments.
Tactus also offer Supply Chain, Sourcing and Asset Management Services to their business to business clients and are proud to have worked with Argos, Selfridges, Tech Data and John Lewis as well as many other clients.