What Is Wearable Technology?
Wearable Technology, Defined
Ultimately, wearable technology is shorthand for any tech device that you can wear on your body. What arguably began with the invention of eyeglasses in the thirteenth century has since morphed into items such as smart headgear and high-tech clothing that’s tapped into your emails -- quite literally -- through each fiber.
Wearable technology can encompass actual products -- such as activity trackers -- or apps that compliment wearable technology, such as Apple Watch add-ons. In fact, even mobile devices can be considered wearable tech by certain standards. And although you may or may not have directly heard of this form of technology, you've been around it for years -- it’s a $19 billion dollar industry, and one in five Americans regularly wears some form of technology.
Fitness trackers are the most well-known form of wearable tech. Born from the classic pedometer and evolved to encompass digital trackers from brands like Fitbit and Jawbone, consumers utilize activity monitors to track their heart rate, sleeping patterns, daily steps, nutrition goals and several other health, fitness and wellness metrics, directly from their wrist.
In addition, many fitness trackers have developed fully-integrated mobile apps that sync data and track any applicable activity at the same time as the tracker. This improves user experience by allowing consumers to check their data in several places and enabling the app to record it in multiple ways, ensuring it is the most accurate is can possibly be.
Smartwatches were a simple transition from fitness trackers -- in fact, many new Fitbit models are essentially smartwatches themselves! However, smartwatches act as more of a mobile phone, allowing users to quickly access emails, send and receive text messages, and even take phone calls as if they were on their personal phone.
Another unique feature of smartwatch products is that they permit other brands to develop apps specifically for the tiny devices. These brand partnerships increase the value of smartwatches, improve the customer-centric design, and enable brands such as Google Pay, Spotify, BBC News and Uber to reach an entirely new demographic, resulting in a symbiotic relationship for each business.
Internet Of Things
Wearable technology lends itself directly to the idea of the Internet of Things (IoT) -- or the integrations of the Internet into everyday items, including (but not limited to) air conditioning units, lamps, coffee makers and more. The expansion of smart home devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home bring consumers even closer to this realization.
In terms of specific items, smartwatches in particular bridge the gap between wearable technology and IoT perfectly, as the world wide web was directly added to an everyday accessory. However, there are many other items that constitute both wearable tech and examples of IoT, including smart jewelry and intelligent clothing, like Sensoria’s vast collection of smart clothing that tracks activity and personal fitness.
The Future Of Wearable Technology
The explosion of wearable technology has opened doors for modern businesses everywhere. The growing prevalence of digital devices enables brands to create wearable technology as a product of their own or foster professional partnerships and develop apps to be featured in already-existing gear. The good news? None of this means wearable computers will step on other industries -- 76 percent of consumers want to purchase wearable technology without it replacing items they already own.
As the technology advances, we can expect an expansion of wearable gadgets that integrate with outside apps and brands and, thus, an expansion of apps developed specifically for those items with the help of top design and development agencies. Plus, we will likely see an increase in new items that integrate the Internet and technology, such as headgear devices like Google Lens and additional implantables, which currently monitor chronic medical conditions.
Top Industries For Wearable Technology
Public service professionals such as law enforcement officers, firefighters and military personnel are incorporating wearable technology in the wake of a changing political climate. Notably, many police officers wear body cameras to better ensure public safety and deter any potential abuses of power.
Meanwhile, some fire departments have incorporated body sensors that track a professionals body temperature and overexposure to heat. This is, of course, particularly useful as they are fighting fires, as the device can tell them when they need to exit the building to recuperate before reentering.
Several industrial and/or construction based industries are utilizing wearable technology, including mining and professional technicians. Devices such as smart glasses are outfitted with sensors that track a person’s level of alertness, ensuring their personal safety and minimizing the risk of machinery accidents.
Wearable technology is especially useful for workers who work off shifts, long hours, or operate heavy machinery regularly, as these professionals are often in danger of microsleep, or a few brief seconds of actual sleep. This mini-state of rest is a similar feeling we experience when we “zone out” but can have dire consequences for overworked professionals on the job. Luckily, industrial smart glasses are equipped to search for signs and alert the wearer.
The medical and healthcare fields were some of the first to experiment with wearable technology -- so early that it wasn’t even called wearable tech yet! Wearable devices can be used by doctors, such as sterile smart glasses during long surgical procedures.
But more prominently, wearable technology is often outfitted for patients to monitor health problems or manage chronic conditions. These devices can include pacemakers, which are actually worn inside a patient’s body, and certain heart rate monitors.
The education industry is capitalizing on wearable tech to help students learn faster and teachers instruct better. For example, teachers can use smart glasses equipped with facial recognition tech to remember students’ names.
But perhaps the most exciting advancement is in virtual reality and augmented reality for the students themselves. With VR and AR headsets or glasses, students can take virtual field trips -- something that is quite beneficial to low-income districts with limited budgets. Students can also record their classes with headsets and watch them again later, which can assist students with learning disabilities and help kids understand difficult subject matters.
Last but not least, the fitness industry is teeming with wearable technology devices that aim to track wellness, boost fitness goals, and simultaneously connect users with their digital devices.
Wearable technology devices within the fitness industry include smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart clothing (such as golf shirts and athletic socks), and running shoes. These devices typically sync with a digital device, like a smartphone, and analyze metrics such as sleeping patterns, heart rate, daily steps, calories burned, and nutritional intake.
Why Businesses Should Invest In Wearable Technology
Warren Buffett Invested
Business magnate and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett invested in jewelry-centric wearable fitness technology in late 2016 with his subsidiary Richline Group. Typically, one man diving into a tech sector like wearables may not normally be a cause to ring the alarm, but mogul Buffett is a likened to Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos -- he knows where business is headed, and companies would be wise to follow his lead.
Although this reasoning is a bit unconventional, Buffett, who is currently worth a cool $85 million, is notoriously cautious about investments. In fact, he has previously spoken out about his intense skepticism regarding cryptocurrencies. His stamp of approval of wearable technology not only shows that it’s a worthy investment, but that it may soon reach other industries outside of traditional tech.
As with many digital devices, wearable technology has the potential to scale in nearly any direction -- particularly because it is still in its infancy. Therefore, the brands who invest in creating wearable technology now will be that much further along when the sector as a whole decides where it’s going. After all, the wearable technology market is expected to double by the year 2021.
This evolution of wearable technology could be relatively minor, ultimately remaining similar to the devices we are currently seeing. Or, it could go the way of simple 1970s computer company Apple or tiny little e-commerce shop Amazon, and inspire innovative technology beyond what we could even imagine.
Ultimately, a strong brand’s motivation for creating new products, including wearable technology devices, should be to solve common problems that plague their customers. This idea, which mirrors “design thinking,” gives all innovation stronger context by making the why clear for developers and consumers.
In addition, rooting the development of a wearable item in solving a problem will help a business actually create the device itself! As businesses look at the issue they aim to solve, the necessary features, functionalities and user experience will become apparent. This imperative way of approaching a new product will result in a more effective device that consumers will enjoy using, which will grow the brand and inspire repeat customers.
The Internet Of Things
As the Internet of Things expands, so does the marketing for wearable tech. After all, wearable technology is a subset of IoT. Despite its complicated nature and many moving parts, many experts are calling this current period in history the fourth industrial revolution, with these groundbreaking technological advances at the center.
Although general IoT products are evolving at a slightly faster pace -- thinks of all the smart pet feeders, AI thermostats, and home assistants we have! -- it sets the stage for wearable technology to catch up in the near future.
Wearable Tech Is Trendy
At the end of the day, wearable technology is a smart and innovative sector to venture into because it’s trendy! The near-immediate boom of smartwatches alone has proven that consumers will jump at the chance to wear the Internet, so long as it has a great user experience.
Because wearable technology is so new, the brands that utilize it have the opportunity to quickly and easily surpass their competitors. Some trends that captivate consumers are easy and relatively inexpensive to execute, which means that nearly every company attempts it. But if a brand can pull off a wearable technology device, they are almost certain to snag users’ attention for a long time to come.
How To Find The Best Company To Develop A Wearable Technology App
Great wearable technology development companies will be able to take your company’s vision, create a strategy and timeline, and bring the application to life in a way that represents your company well. Both agency and client should agree upon the goals and prominent features that the app or item will have -- otherwise, you’ll waste your time butting heads instead driving the project forward.
Before you approach design agencies to partner with, determine a succinct, streamlined vision for the project and set ideal objectives you aim to achieve. Which platforms or gadgets do you want your app featured on? What functionalities should it have to maintain strong user experience and a great brand identity? Have your own answer for these, then find a great agency whose vision aligns with yours.
The best wearable technology companies will look at your brand identity and other digital platforms to ensure they create a similar experience throughout your new app. This important quality will improve user experience and consumer satisfaction, as users expect the same brand experience across every device and platform.
In fact, businesses who maintain a seamless experience can see up to 23 percent more revenue. Plus, a consistent brand presentation can result in up to four times more recognition than companies who neglect to brand and 77 percent of marketers claim that strong branding is imperative for business growth. Therefore, a top agency with additional experience in branding and digital marketing may prove more useful than just a team of developers.
Wearable technology is still fairly new, so it may be difficult to find a top tech company that has the portfolio proving their expertise. However, they do exist. Take the time to find the agencies who actually have prior experience working with wearable technology and custom mobile applications -- and don’t accept the first development agency that works with wearable tech, either.
If you find a top agency that is trying to break into wearable apps but doesn’t have a comprehensive background in it, make sure you vet their other applicable expertise thoroughly -- and know that you’ll be taking a risk, regardless. Learn about their other complicated design and development projects and ask detailed questions to ensure they understand the industry, the technology, and the details that go into creating a pint-sized app that packs a punch.
The members working on your project are more important to success than the agency you choose overall -- these are going to be the professionals you are communicating and collaborating with daily. They are responsible for bringing your brand to a brand-new platform. And you need to feel confident in their abilities.
Learn about each potential expert’s background throughout the agency discovery process. Perhaps an amazing agency doesn’t quite have the expertise you want for a new wearable technology device, but they have a few employees who have a strong skill set that qualifies them to complete the tasks you set out to accomplish. Don’t rule out a smaller team of experts that are more qualified than a larger, dedicated agency -- especially if their work history and case studies showcase true talent.
Price Per Project
Wearable technology projects don’t come cheap, and you’ll need to enlist a reputable development agency to design the project. Expect to spend tens -- if not, thousands -- of dollars creating a user-friendly highly-specialized product that integrates the Internet into a tiny device.
But even though wearable gadgets are expensive, don’t just sign an agency at whatever quote they give you -- even if they seem like the best in the biz. Inquire what exactly you’ll be paying for, how many prototypes you’ll receive, and what the projected return on investment will be. The latter, in particular, will be extremely telling in determining if an app design and development agency can truly create a digital product that consumers will love.
Questions To Ask A Wearable Technology App Design Company
As a client searching for the best wearable technology agency, you deserve to feel confident in the team a design firm puts together. You are entitled to ask specific questions about the experts who will comprise your team of professionals and request any replacements before you sign a contract.
- Who will be working on this project?
- What will their role be?
- How dedicated will they be to our project?
- What experience do they have in our industry and with this type of project?
- Throughout their time at the agency, what tips have they learned for executing a timely and successful design or project?
- Do they have experience in wearable technology devices and/or applications?
- Where do they think the wearable technology industry will be in the next year? Five years?
As a new and innovative industry, wearable technology needs to have a direct and positive effect on consumers’ lives. Top design agencies will have specific thoughts, opinions, and suggestions on how they see your app performing, the features that will make it stand out, and any changes in function that will ensure success.
- How do you predict this app or item will change users’ behavior?
- What real-world problems does it help alleviate or tasks does it make easier?
- Based on the information we gave you, what design, development or UX elements would you change to make this product even better?
- What functions or features would you add or remove? Why?
Process & Timeline
The top wearable technology companies that are worthy of your business will have a streamlined creative process and detailed timeline -- and for good reason. Ninety-seven percent of businesses believe that project management is critical for business success, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Ask the following questions to discover exactly how an agency plans to approach your project and keep it on track.
- What is your process for creating an innovative design that matches our brand identity?
- How will you conduct market research?
- What platforms or programs do you use? Will we have access to them as well?
- Who will our point of contact and/or project manager be?
- How often can we expect drafts, updates, and meetings? Are those capped at a particular number?
- How do you determine a project timeline and how do you plan to keep it on track?
- How does the process of creating a wearable tech app differ from designing and developing a mobile app or website?
The best app designers and developers will not only have a laundry list of success stories and strong experience but an archive of prior clients who will be willing to speak on their behalf. Pay special attention to final data, strategies implemented, and customer feedback. Plus, be wary of agencies who balk at giving out references -- they may be concerned over whether or not they will receive a glowing review.
- Who are some clients that you have worked with, and in what capacity?
- Has the agency designed or developed any wearable gadgets or apps? If so, what was the outcome?
- What similar projects have you recently completed, and what was the outcome?
- Do you have experience in our industry, and how did you gain it?
- Would any of your clients be willing to speak to us about their partnership with your agency?
Outcomes & Results
Ultimately, the final outcome is the most important aspect of a project. But in the digital age where updates are constant and designs are fluid, what constitutes the end? Be sure to ask an app development agency how they plan to set goals, measure success, and how involved they believe they should be after the initial launch.
- Who are our competitors in this industry and market? How did you determine that?
- How will you set project goals?
- Will the goals be measured throughout the project? How do you plan to adjust any strategies or functions to achieve our objectives?
- What will you consider a successful outcome?
- After the first product release, how do you see our professional relationship continuing? Do you foresee updates, QA testing and stronger user
- experience? What will that cost structure look like?