The Brave New World of Wearable Tech
News Are health gadgets and apps actually making us healthier? A look at trends, next steps and what it all means.
By all accounts, 2015 is the year of the wearable. Not just because the most admired tech brand in the world sold 2-million smartwatches during its much anticipated debut—though that certainly plays a role. A combination of new technology, better devices and slowing smartphone sales puts us smack in the middle of a perfect storm for the next big thing. It may have taken a bit of time to get rolling compared to other big tech trends, but the wearable gadget train is now full speed ahead. By 2019 the total worldwide shipments of wearables is expected to crest at 125 million.
Wear what you want
What each of us want out of a wearable—be it a fitness tracker, smart jewelry, pair of electronically-equipped shoes or a smartwatch—can be as unique as a fingerprint, but groups have already begun to form. There are the people who don’t have enough hours in the day, and who want a tiny screen on their wrist to tell them their next appointment, directions to an off-site business meeting and an alert when their kids have arrived safely home from school.
"By 2019 the total worldwide shipments of wearables is expected to crest at 125 million."
For most people, however, having a tweet arrive on their wrist is the least of their concerns. They are less interested in cramming more hours into a day, and more interested in adding more years to their lives.
Working longer, working smarter
The 78 million Americans who are part of the baby-boom generation are getting older, and in 2016 the first of them will be hitting their 70th birthdays. According to the Insured Retirement Institute, an increasing percentage of boomers are planning on retiring past the age of 70.
A gadget that can track exercise, overall activity, and offer a rough picture of an individual’s fitness level will be a powerful tool not only on a personal level, but also a gold mine of data for doctors and specialists looking to offer more accurate and potentially life-saving advice.
For those who have a well-established fitness routine, skin-tight technology is quickly making its way from the wrist to other parts of your body, and it’s going to tell you a whole lot more than just how many calories you’ve burned. Gartner expects the market for smart garments and more specialized wearables to explode in the next 24 months, more than doubling what it is now.
In five years, we’ll still be bombarded with ads for the next new smartwatch, but the scope of wearable tech is expanding at breakneck speed. Soon, you may be hard pressed to find a new pair of gym shorts, an ankle bracelet or even a baby onesie that isn’t “smart” in one way or another.