Wearable Tech Trends in 2015
Wearable devices is a technological trend that is likely to gain a much bigger foothold in the coming year. This year played host to many advances in the industry, with Google Glass and the Pebble smartwatch, as well as the creation of a variety of devices from Android Wear and Samsung. But what does this mean for wearables in the new year?
A recent report by Forrester Research declared 2015 will be the year of the wearable. There is a proven market for these products, with a demand rate of 45 percent within the U.S. According to the study, which included responses from more than 3,000 technology and business decision-makers, the technology will be especially desirable within the enterprise. The report found that 68 percent of participants felt that wearable technology was a priority within their companies and another 51 percent cited wearables as being a moderate, high or critical priority.
Apple Introduces Its Smartwatch
One of the biggest things to happen to wearables in 2015 will be the entrance of Apple into the market. The tech giant recently announced its wearable offering, the Apple Watch, which will be available next year. While the product is highly anticipated by a variety of consumers - Forrester estimates that it will have 10 million users next year - Apple has also priced itself out of the market to an extent. The Apple Watch costs nearly $350 while you can buy a Pebble for just $99, making it a high priced alternative to an already proven product.
Smartwatches in general are becoming more popular with consumers. According to a separate Forrester survey of more than 4,500 U.S. adults, 42 percent reported having an interest in buying a wrist-based wearable device, an increase of 28 percent from 2013.
Smart Glasses Enter The Enterprise
Another major trend in wearables coming in 2015 is smart glasses. A growing number of CIOs experienced the benefits of hands-free devices like smart glasses this year, realizing the potential for improved efficiency that comes with the technology. Industries like manufacturing, healthcare, construction and law enforcement in which workers use their hands and bodies could benefit greatly from a product that allows users to receive the same benefits as a tablet or smartphone without restricting the use of hands.
According to InformationWeek contributor Shane O'Neill, Google Glass is being actively tested within hospitals to provide doctors with quick, hands-free access to medical records and vital signs. Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center became the first hospital in the U.S. to provide an entire department with Google Glass for daily use following four months of beta testing. Each patient's room is equipped with a QR code that can be scanned through an app on the glasses, providing doctors with immediate access to the patient's electronic medical records.
Japan Airlines has also started using Google Glass within their maintenance crews, according to a report by Forrester forecasting the wearables market. The airline's crews use the devices to inspect planes on the tarmac before takeoff and after landing, taking video and photos with the glasses and sending them to a central office to be inspected by technical safety pros to evaluate the condition of the planes.
Wearables Expand To The Wardrobe
Perhaps the most interesting development for wearable technology in 2015 is its expansion into clothing. At this year's U.S. Open tennis tournament, Ralph Lauren provided the ball boys with Polo Tech smart shirts that use built-in sensors to measure the user's heart rate and movement. The data is then sent to a corresponding mobile app through a Bluetooth-enabled sensor within the shirt. The shirts were a hit and highlight a growing interest in integrated technology.