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Wearable Technology: The Next Mobile Disruptor?

Wearable Technology: The Next Mobile Disruptor?
7
Feb

teWearable technology is becoming more prevalent as each generation of phone becomes available. A few years ago, only Fitbit and a few other wearables were available. Now almost every mobile device manufacturer has jumped into the game. Even Apple who was anti-smartwatch until 2015.

While the question regarding whether to go wearable or not is still valid, it’s becoming less so as each generation is released. Not only are wearables blending the two categories they typically fall into, but manufacturers are regularly updating their devices to replace mobile phones.

If you haven’t looked at wearable technology yet, we have some information you may find valuable.

Categories

While mobile phones are phones, with varying apps and abilities depending on price point, wearable technology has separated into two camps until recently. People use watches either for fitness or for notifications and apps.

One wearable that is synonymous with fitness tracking is Fitbit, of course. Fitbit’s design, as well as it’s competitors, is focused entirely on tracking fitness. The device itself is not tied to any phone, though can be aligned via apps.

While Fitbit’s design is for fitness, most phone companies design their wearables to show notifications and use apps. Notifications can be a phone call or an email/text, and apps range from music services to social media.

However, these two categories are blending rapidly. Apple and Samsung have produced new generation wearables that function for both fitness and notifications/apps. Though these wearables are pricier than a standard fitness tracker.

Newest renditions

As mentioned, Apple and Samsung have created their wearables to step ahead of third party watches by offering both fitness tracking and notifications.

Samsung offers a combination watch in their S3 series, including a watch that is worn while swimming. The watch can function for returning emails and texts, check notifications, and even make phone calls on 4GLTE networks without the phone present. All while tracking fitness.

Samsung’s watch does not require a Samsung phone, rather just an Android OS.

Similarly, Apple’s Watch Series 3 offers a combination of both categories. The recently released Watch 3 can make phone calls, as well. Apple’s watch can track fitness with the best of them, and their new beta update corrects some issues with connecting to music.

Unfortunately, Apple’s watches come in limited appearance, do not have the waterproof ability of Samsung, and seem to have a few apps that have jumped camp. Namely Twitter and a few others.

Apple and Samsung watches are not cost efficient, if one is looking purely for fitness. Both watches are equipped to take on the basic functions of their phones and are priced as such. Fitbit is focused on fitness and the wearable is priced accordingly.

Future predictions

While it’s easy to say the next step in wearables is to move entirely away from the phone, that statement seems to be a given by mobile phone manufacturers. Both Apple and Samsung have made that step, only needing to tailor software that has been engineered.

What appears to be the next best thing in wearables depends on who is looking. Apple seems to be moving more in the direction of fitness and healthcare, looking to add an EKG level heart monitoring ability into their watches. Similarly, Fitbit has invested in a start-up who has patented a glucose reading wearable and appears to be close to manufacturing.

Health monitoring offers a world of connectivity to patients with health issues, potentially alerting both patient and doctor when something is wrong. Device manufacturers are looking to focus in on IoT connectivity with both the heart and glucose monitoring.

However, the software upgrades in health offer little to those who are healthy or do not have issues with diabetes.

Huawei appears to be working on more practicality issues with wearable technology. The company has a patent on a touch sensitive bezel already. The design is similar to the buttons in Samsung’s Gear watch. However, Huawei appears to be taking on the largest drawback of wearables.

Namely, the small screen.

People use their phones as replacement computers, resulting in manufacturers making phone screens larger. However, watch screens are limited due to wrist size and comfort. Huawei appears to be developing a smartwatch that will allow individuals to use the back of their hand as a screen, using sensors located in the watch.

Direction of communication

Until recently, wearables were considered an accessory but not necessary. However, wearable technology is moving fast with Apple and Samsung prepping to sell their watches separate from phones.

While Huawei’s technology is still in research, the solution for a small screen could break open wearables in usability.

The large names in both fitness and notification categories of wearables are fast tracking their R&D to disrupt how we think about watches in the future. Just as the iPhone disrupted cellular phones ten years ago, wearable technology might disrupt smart phones as we know them.