In 2015, nearly 40 million adults used wearable technology, and that number is still on the rise. Research firm eMarketer projects that 81.7 million Americans will own such a product by 2018. Wearable technology includes FitBit trackers, Apple smartwatches, and other devices meant to be worn continually and monitor some type of activity such as steps, exercise, sleep, or nutrition. Three trends to watch in coming years will be the expansion of activities monitored, growth of service types offered, and security of wearable tech gadgets.
Wear it, Track it, Live it
Expansion of activities monitored by wearable tech is continuing based on the growth of this market niche and the advancement of technology. The Neatamo June bracelet is one such example. This sun savvy piece detects the amount of sun exposure somebody is getting, and gives advice on preventing UV damage through a connected mobile app. One design that is not yet commercially available is the Hand Tree, a wearable piece that is intended to purify the air around a person. Other areas of monitoring interest include blood pressure, more advanced sleep monitoring, and nutrition tracking. For people with chronic conditions, the ability to easily and constantly monitor blood sugar or blood pressure could be pivotal in keeping their illness under control.
Beyond Fitness Tracking
But the multi-functioned nature of wearables doesn’t start and end with health and fitness. Already the Apple Watch and a few other devices can be set up to make payments with a slide of the wrist. Disneyworld is currently ahead of the pack with their MagicBands, a wristband that allows entrance to hotel rooms, ability to pay for food and merchandise, and gives a fast pass to get on rides. In coming years, wearable devices may start to offer more abilities like this. Frequent shopper cards and gift cards could be synced onto your wrist rather than cluttering your wallet, and in an emergency your device could be scanned to check for medical conditions and health insurance. Important documents like car registration, individual dental insurance, and more could all be at the tip of your fingers without the bulk of papers and cards. A world in which a person can seamlessly visit the grocery store, the doctor’s office, and get pulled over for speeding without ever opening his wallet is still a long way off, but it’s a future that is possible.
Where’s the Lock and Key?
With the rise of features and information that could be embedded on a wrist worn device will come a need for increased security. With only details on how many steps a person has taken, the potential for hackers to benefit from Fitbit information is fairly limited. But if the device suddenly holds all kinds of highly personal medical and financial information, it becomes a potential goldmine for hackers. And though companies like Blue Coat and Elastica are trying to prevent such attacks, few businesses offer cybersecurity for wearable technology at this point in time. Fitbit, Apple, and other companies offering such devices will need to assure a person the security is top notch before the person will download his or her life info onto it. An additional layer of security may be necessary as well, perhaps a code or fingerprint scan to ensure that the device can only be used by its owner.
The proliferation of wearable technology may present its own problems, but it appears that the devices are here to stay. The market will likely become larger and more competitive as technology advancements allow for sophisticated features in many different areas. As devices are increasingly able to sync with credit cards and important documents, everyday life could be changed rapidly. While security and theft will be something to keep an eye on, these devices will likely cause the next big shift in technology trends.