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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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.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/7/2015 | 11:06:51 PM
Re: Sock it to me...
@vnewman2- Agreed. I hurt my knee and the first thing my PT did was teach me how to run all over again. Smart socks could have saved me some therapy time. 
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