MedGizmo - What Next For Wearables?
29.10.2015, 18:50   ECN

What Next For Wearables?

What Next For Wearables? Part 1
10/29/2015 by Mark de Clercq, ‎Product Marketing Group Manager, Dialog Semiconductor

Editor's Note: This is Part 1 of a two part blog series on wearables.

Wearable devices give us unprecedented ways to improve various aspects of our lives such as our productivity, health or general lifestyle. They can track and give us access to information about ourselves and our surroundings that can help motivate us or encourage us to make better choices. What’s more, they enable personal connectivity – the ability to connect this “digital self” to the internet. This allows us to share our own information with friends or distant experts, for fun, advice or even on-the- spot medical diagnoses.

Hence it is not surprising that the wearables market is growing fast. According to analyst CCS Insight, in 2013, 9.7 million units were shipped, That figure almost trebled in 2014 to 29 million and is predicted to jump another 158% to 75 million units in 2015, reaching 172 million units per year by 2018.
Yet, despite this impressive early growth, the overall market is still relatively small – particularly compared to the billion-unit smartphone market. To really drive this fast-moving market to reach its full potential, we need exciting new second- and third-generation wearable devices.

These devices will integrate more sensors to deliver more useful information to users, and be context aware to ensure that information is delivered in relevant ways. They will open up new use cases, for example blurring the boundaries between the consumer and medical domains to help people work with healthcare professionals to manage their own health. These new use cases will make data security and user privacy more important than ever.

Wearable devices are only helpful if people wear them. The longer the better. Hence these next-generation devices need to deliver long battery lifetimes or periods between recharges, and they need to come in form factors that are unobtrusive and comfortable to wear.

Data integration and context awareness

The first wearables were simple step counters based on three-dimensional accelerometers. More sophisticated devices soon followed, incorporating things like pressure sensors and gyroscopes. These allowed devices to identify the kind of activity the wearer was participating in – walking, running, climbing hills, etc. – and track their sleep cycles. At the same time, temperature and humidity sensors made it possible to more accurately measure quantities such as the number of calories the wearer had burnt while exercising.

This trend to incorporate more sensors into wearable devices will accelerate in coming years. In particular, we will see more and more motion and environmental sensors being integrated as well as the emerging use of biological sensors. Biosensors are already deployed in standalone wearable medical monitors and we have seen the first consumer devices that include heart rate measurements. But in the next few years, a much wider range of biosensors will be integrated into consumer devices, such as spectroscopic sensors to measure blood oxygen, pressure and glucose levels and galvanic skin response sensor to determine sweat levels and pH values.


29.10.2015, 18:50   ECN
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