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Wearables In 2015: 4 Predictions

Smart glasses get put to the test in the enterprise, while smartwatches slowly woo consumers thanks to the Apple Watch.
7 Cool Wearables For Pets
7 Cool Wearables For Pets
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survey, including the ear (headphones), the face (glasses), and the foot (clipped on a shoe).

And as it was with the iPhone, consumer adoption will carry over into work. Gownder predicts Apple Watches will slowly start showing up on employees' wrists, requiring an extension of a company's existing BYOD strategy.

3. Wearables app developers won't make money.
This may be a tough year for developers excited about wearables who are used to reaping financial rewards from successful smartphone apps, said Ballard of APX Labs.

Most mobile apps are either free with revenue coming from ads, or cost a dollar or two, and that model needs a huge user base to work -- something smart glasses and smartwatches don't have. "You won't see the next Candy Crush on Google Glass in 2015," said Ballard.

But there are still opportunities for app developers in the low-volume, but potentially high-paying, enterprise wearables space.

"A company could say to a developer, 'You did great job on our smartphone app, do you want to create the same app for Google Glass?' And they'll write the developer a contract," said Ballard.

"But that's very different from the 'app store' market where millions of smartphone users pick and choose."

4. Wearables expanding to clothes, pets, even pills.
Most of us think of glasses and wristwear when we think of wearable tech, but devices on or in clothing will ramp up in 2015, said Forrester's Gownder.

The wrist was the most popular body location in the aforementioned Forrester survey, but wearables clipped onto clothing were No. 2, with 35% saying they're interested. Nineteen percent of respondents said they're interested in wearables embedded in clothing.

"Ralph Lauren got the conversation going at this year's US Open [tennis tournament] by equipping ball boys with Polo Tech smart shirts," Gownder said. The Polo Tech shirts, designed for athletes, use built-in sensors to track the wearer's heart rate and movement, and send that data to a mobile app via a Bluetooth-enabled sensor in the shirt.

Other clothing-based wearables gaining interest among tech enthusiasts include Ducere's Lechal smart shoes and Wearable Experiments' Navigate jacket, which both use haptic feedback (vibrations) to give directions. The left or right smart shoe will vibrate, and the jacket will squeeze your left or right shoulder to indicate where to turn. Skeptics may see this as excessive tech and argue, somewhat justifiably, that walking directions are available via smartphone or smartwatch. But one of the goals of integrating tech, fashion, and fitness in 2015 and beyond is to make the wearable "invisible" -- to be heard or felt but not seen.

In the coming year, Forrester also sees wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) technology expanding past clothing and wrists and onto our pets via devices from FitBark and Voyce for activity tracking and remote monitoring; inside our bedrooms through devices like Withings Aura Smart Sleep System that tracks sleep; and even inside our bodies with a product like the PillCam, a pill-shaped camera that navigates a person's gastrointestinal track when swallowed.

With such a broad range, the name "wearables" may no longer suffice. How about Everywhereables?

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