Beyond Apple Watch: What's Next In Wearables - InformationWeek

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5/7/2015
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David Wagner
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Beyond Apple Watch: What's Next In Wearables

The Apple Watch is the tip of the iceberg for wearables. Here's what we have to look forward to.
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(Image: Becky Stern via Flickr)

(Image: Becky Stern via Flickr)

The Apple watch is here. It actually doesn't look all that different or work too differently from the iPhone. They're companion devices, so that's fine. But the future of wearables isn't in making companion devices of existing technology. There's a whole range of form factors waiting to come out.

The key is the decreasing price of connectivity and sensors. Gartner predicted that sensors and LEDs (and, of course, processing) are going to be the biggest growth segments of the IoT. By 2020, they expect small processors to be priced as low as $1, which makes it economically and technologically feasible to make anything "smart."

When you can put sensors and processors in something as cheap as a t-shirt, you've got a whole new world of wearables. It also makes the idea of smart watches, which are general fitness trackers with some phone accessories, seem really expensive. We will soon see other types of fitness trackers, healthcare sensors, and other "quantified life" products, overtake smart watches.

Virtual reality is another new frontier of wearables. As major companies, including Facebook, Sony, and Microsoft, get into one form of VR or another, wearables (not just helmets but wearable computers as accessories to those helmets) will enter the workplace for augmented reality and for training. Consumer trends such as gaming and marketing will likely drive VR as well.

The next wave of wearables is where the real action is. We might even see the first generation of implanted devices or, at the very least, bio-enhanced devices like smart tattoos.

So what will we see first? Hard to tell. Here is our list of the eight most likely candidates for the next wave of hot wearables. Check them out on the following pages, and then tell us in the comments section below which ones are most interesting to you--and what kind of wearables you'd like to see in the future.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

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nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
5/24/2015 | 7:18:22 AM
Re: too much information?
@kstaron:

> The idea of being able to see 360 degrees is interesting,
> but since our brains are not set up to use that information
> effectively, would it be a help or more of a distraction?

 Our brains were not wired to talk to people without seeing them. The decades of telephonic experience re-wired our brains.

360 degree helmets would be no different. Human brains are miraculous!
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
5/22/2015 | 5:33:54 PM
too much information?
I wonder at what point augmented reality becomes too much information to process. The idea of being able to see 360 degrees is interesting, but since our brains are not set up to use that information effectively, would it be a help or more of a distraction?
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2015 | 10:17:56 PM
Re: iearing and isock
@David:

> But imagine if i needed to charge a phone, a tablet, several pairs of socks, a few shirts, a watch, and a helmet?

Good to see that a leading industry thinker agrees with me :) Of the charging problem there will be a charging pads on which you'd just need to place the item. It will be either surface charging or a warp-able pad that senses and latches to the charging socket.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
5/14/2015 | 8:41:50 PM
Re: iearing and isock
my assumption is that they will decrease the number of accidents because drivers will have a better picture of the road.  But, may be instead of creating such helmets we may just have autonomous cars removing the human element and making the roads safer.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/11/2015 | 1:17:48 PM
Re: Let's Not Forget the Originators
@Ian- Thanks for the great post. Maybe a "history of wearables pioneers" is well overdue. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/11/2015 | 1:15:19 PM
Re: iearing and isock
@nasimon- I think you hit the nail on the head of a lot of criteria for wearables: person, subtle, not socially invasive. I would add easy to power. I would think it would get old real quick if I had to worry about dozens of wearables being powered up in the near future. I can handle charging my phone right now. But imagine if i needed to charge a phone, a tablet, several pairs of socks, a few shirts, a watch, and a helmet?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/11/2015 | 1:10:14 PM
Re: iearing and isock
@Pedro- I'm intrigued by the augmented reality helmets, too. such a simple and yet important safety improvement. But I suspect they take some serious training and practice to get used to. i wonder if they will cause more accidents at first than they prevent and have difficulty getting adopted.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
5/10/2015 | 5:33:47 PM
Re: wearables
I prefer the T-shirt as well. Not only because I have COPD myself, but i believe, it could be fitted with a lot of sensors.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2015 | 9:20:18 PM
Re: Sock it to me...
@David - Amen to that.  Feedback is priceless - how can we make adjustments if we don't know there is a problem?  I'm all for the development of products that allow us to harness feedback and use it to improve something in our lives.  Knowledge is power, as the saying goes...
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2015 | 7:41:36 PM
Re: iearing and isock
You bring up an excellent point. for a smart devices to be more socially acceptable it should be undistinguishable from other items on your body. The best device so far for me was the helmet.  I would like to see a smart rear view mirror that way I can see all cars even those of my blind spot.  I would prefer a smart glass, that will decrease eye strains, especially for us whom we use the computer on a regular basis.  I do not need an emotional glasses to know how the engineers will feel when their glass doesn't sell on stores. 
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