Whitepaper: The Next Frontier Of Technology Wearables
By Belatrix Software | Topics: Software Development
Exciting Challenges Ahead In Creating Wearable Applications
Wearable computing will reach mass market adoption in 2015. Driven by both consumer and enterprise demand, we will see a fundamental shift occurring in the technology landscape by the end of the year. This report examines what the influx of wearables means, but perhaps more importantly we examine the range of business applications being developed for wearable devices and detail what you need to know to develop wearable applications.
Wearables Hit Mass Market Adoption In 2015
While 2014 may have been declared the “year of wearables” by many technology journalists and bloggers, it is in 2015 when we will see wearables move towards mass market adoption, as well as starting to have a transformative impact on the enterprise.
This adoption will be driven by the convergence of both consumer and enterprise demand.
Consumer expectations and desire for wearables hit a tipping point
Consumer expectations and consumer willingness to adopt wearables. For example at the recent LeWeb Paris 2014 event, data was presented which suggested 45% of US and 32% of European adults were intrigued by the prospect of getting a wearable device. 42% were interested in getting a device for their wrist.
Examples in the consumer space include:
- Health and fitness devices one of the earliest examples of consumer wearables. Fitness bands typically cater to a niche audience of athletes.
- Smart watches predicted to be the leading wearable product category. A range of different devices are already available from top consumer manufacturers, such as Samsung, Apple and LG. Apple smart watch predicted to sell 10- 25 million units in 2015.
- Wearables start to move into textiles. For example Sensoria plan smart socks to tell what part of the foot is getting the most pressure.
Enterprise use of wearables transforms business processes and upends industries
Demand from a broad range of possible devices in different industries-healthcare, manufacturing, education will all drive wearable adoption. While usual regulatory and compliance concerns may mean adoption is slightly slower than on the consumer side, the potential impact on business operations will be immense.
Wearables can help improve employee efficiency, communication, training, and lower barriers to decision making as well as a range of other potential benefits. Already widespread and diverse use cases are emerging for the use of wearables in enterprises
Consumer and Enteprise Demand Will Drive Wearable Adoption
Examples in the enterprise space include:
- Eurotech´s Zypad provides wrist-mounted computers. These can provide mobile information for emergency personnel or warehouse workers.
- Salesforce.com rolled out Salesforce Wear, an app development platform. The platform contains reference apps, demos, open-source code, and other documentation that can be used to develop apps for a range of wearables devices.
The platform can then connect the apps to the company’s Salesforce mobile app platform.
- Evena Medical’s application for Epson’s Moverio smart glasses helps nurses find blood veins. This means patients receive a faster, improved experience, as well as lowering the risk of infection.
Some Key Data Points On Adoption
In case you´re still skeptical, here are some additional data points it’s worth taking note of:
- Wearables are a priority for technology decision makers. Forrester Research recently surveyed 2,000 technology decision makers about the importance of having a wearables strategy in place over the next 12 months, and more than half of respondents reported that wearables were a priority, with 32% saying they’re a “critical” or “high” priority.
- Apple will give a lift to the wearable category with its smart watch. Predictions about Apple´s smart watch range from 10 million devices sold up to 20-25 million by the end of 2015. Apple´s smart watch, with its immense reach and brand, will also give a lift to other wearable manufacturers.
- Potentially a $19 billion market by 2018. Juniper Research expects morethan 130 million smart wearable devices to ship by 2018, making retail revenue from wearable technology jump from about $1.4 billion in 2013 to as much as $19 billion in 2018. Remember this is not only smartwaches but all sorts of wearable devices, smartwatches, fitbands, and medical wearables.
- Medical devices will be a key wearable category. According to a report published by Transparency Market Research the global market for wearable medical devices (heart rate monitors, activity monitors, ECG, pulse oximeters, glucose/insulin management, pain management, wearable respiratory therapy) was valued at $2.0 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach a value of $5.8 billion in 2019.
In many ways the wearables market has a lot in common with the late 1990s and the dot com boom. There is a tremendous amount of innovation occurring and a genuine sense of excitement about possibilities – but also a realization that much still has to develop. So while some may call it hype when there will be some inevitable high profile failures or setbacks (Nike withdrawing the Fuelband for example), this is a natural part of the wearable market growing up.
Creating Applications For Wearables Means New Challenges
While much of the attention surrounding wearables has focused on the devices themselves, the true value will come from the software, applications and services which accompany the devices. However creating applications for wearables represents a different set of challenges from your usual application development. Part of this is because today´s consumers want to enjoy a digital lifestyle – one where their expectations of technology and what it can deliver are fundamentally different from those in the past.
In many ways creating an application for a wearable is similar to creating a mobile application – in particular with regard to the expectations of the end-user. In wearables, as with mobile, there are increasingly heightened expectations from consumers around the performance and usability of the application. Therefore, in creating your application for a wearable device, make sure to pay attention to:
- Diverse range of platforms stretch development resources and skills. Developers have a difficult task given that wearables run on a range of different platforms, from iOS to Android Wear to Tizen.
- APIs will be critical for the functionality of the wearable device. Even though you may know how to program Android or iOS applications, it is vital to be familiar with the APIs provided for each platform. An additional challenge though is that many APIs for wearable devices are still at the development stage.
- Creative thinking needed to develop new use cases. One the biggest challenges is to think outside the box – and in this case, out of the smartphone. To fully benefit from the potential of wearables, it is necessary to break away from being considered a complement to a smartphone. For example Allthecooks is a Google Glass app that allows you to read recipe instructions at eye-level while you’re cooking. So you don’t have to touch your smartphone or any gadget while your hands are dirty.
- Battery life will be a deciding factor. Until now the weakest point of wearables has been their battery life, particularly in the smart watch category. Withing´s Activité smart watch was one of the first devices to offer a longer term (8 month) battery life and helps differentiate in an increasingly crowded wearable market. However for most devices, it remains the case that battery life is at a premium – one or two days is currently the expected maximum for most devices. So when developing an app, it´s use of scarce resources is absolutely critical.
- User experience becomes even more important than it already is. Another aspect that will probably be one of the most important ones to the app success is the UX. Smart watches have very small screens and almost no buttons, making the use of space, navigation and user interaction incredibly important. Using gestures and knowing what to show and how much to show will be critical success factors for your application.
Key Challenges With Creating Applications For Wearable Devices
Creative Pioneers In Creating Business Applications For Wearables
What will lead to the ultimate tipping point for wearables is when that killer app is developed that drives the adoption of a broad range of wearables. So far this hasn´t been created, but we´re already seeing some pioneering companies creating some interesting business applications utilizing wearable technology. Indeed, while consumers will initially largely drive the adoption of wearables, it is in the enterprise that they will arguably end up having the most transformative impact.
Some of the early adopters of creating business applications based on wearables include:
ShiftExpert from ClickSoftware
|The ShiftExpert app works on wearable devices to let employees clock in and out of shifts and add that data to time sheets. Employees can quickly view their shifts, request to trade a shift, and view overtime from a smartwatch. Managers can schedule shift trades, approve vacation and sick time, and track time sheets from the app.
|The Proximity Insight app connects with instore iBeacons to make the retail experience more efficient and personal. Ideally, Proximity Insight works in conjunction with the store’s website and mobile app in the following scenario: A shopper receives a mobile notification via the store app based on items he’s viewed; the shopper later enters the store, and a salesperson is alerted to her presence via iBeacons on their smartwatch or smartglasses and can also access data from their CRM database. The consumer enjoys a significantly improved customer experience with a knowledgeable salesperson.
APX Labs Skylight
|Through a mix of the Skylight Platform, Salesforce Wear, and smartglass makers, the APX Labs app enables workers such as telecom service technicians or utility workers to view augmented reality overlay information, such as directions or instructions on how to fix equipment in real time, and quickly log a case in the Salesforce Service Cloud database via smartglasses.
Brivo Labs’ NthID
|Brivo Labs wants to make ID access cards obsolete with its identity access management application. NthID integrates with the Bionym Nymi identity authentication wristband to give employees and visitors secure and easy access to office buildings, eliminating the need for ID cards or key fobs. The Nymi uses a person’s cardiac rhythm to verify identity, which is about as unique as it gets.
Concluding Remarks: A Killer App Will Drive Wearable Adoption
Developing rich business models for the services and applications which will provide the functionality and user experiences of wearable devices remains the next critical step in the broader adoption of wearable devices.
The emergence of a so-called “Killer-app” which everyone wants to have will be the nuclear event which brings wearables to either your home or workplace.
Therefore make sure to:
- Start preparing now for the wearables world. What potential impact could wearables have on your company and industry? Are you prepared for this impact? In what ways could wearables transform your current business processes or operations?
Start thinking about which employees you have who already work remotely (or without a desk) and could benefit from having a range of data inputs provided to them.
- If you´re looking to develop a wearable application, keep in mind the challenges. In particular this applies to user experience. Even more so than with applications for a smartphone, which already require a significant focus on the user experience, for wearables it is even more important for developers to work in close collaboration with a UI designer.
- The technology needs to be invisible. For wearables, and while it may be hard for those of us who work in the technology industry to accept, but the technology will need to be invisible. It will need to “just work” – seamless, always-on, long-term battery-life/charging measured in days and months, not hours.
Both consumers and enterprise users are looking for the benefit the technology can provide, not the technology itself.