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Trends In Wearables For 2016

Wearable payment solutions and SOS devices are expected to witness an upsurge along with evolution of wearable technology in healthcare

Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das

The wearable technology landscape continues to evolve in its complexity. From design and aesthetics to the technical specifications of products and accuracy of data, companies and product designers must understand these aspects if they want to successfully enter or sustain the wearables market. Not only must consumer behaviour remain constant, but also companies need to develop products that cater to the shifting market demand.

Technology relevant for individuals has a huge potential in not only making an impact but increasing adoption significantly as well. The experience of technology that connects with us personally has always had a higher propensity to make a difference. Personalization of technology will enable companies focus on exactly what their customers want and how they want it. Keeping in sync with that line of thought Global tech behemoths such as Google, Apple and Samsung have been increasingly focusing on their hardware to provide products that seamlessly integrate with their customer’s everyday life.

As per the International Data Corporation (IDC) report, the wearables market is expected to maintain its momentum and witness a strong growth of over 173 per cent during this fiscal year. According to the report, almost 72.1 million wearable devices were expected to be shipped in 2015, up a strong 173.3 per cent from the 26.4 million units shipped in 2014.The report also predicted that shipment volumes are expected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42.6 per cent over the five-year forecast period, reaching 155.7 million units shipped in 2019.

Over the past year, wearable users have reached a point where they want to get more than just data and are looking for devices that can track their habits, interpret them, and give them in-the-moment feedback that will help change their bad habits, and boost their good habits. Interestingly the wearable market has witnessed a quick movement in the Indian market and other growing countries. Gartner predicts that by 2016 smartwatches will constitute about 40 per cent of wearable devices for the wrist. Wearable’s has created a good market share and is being widely accepted by consumers all over.

Emerging consumer and professional healthcare trends are driving interest in wearables. For consumers, interest in quantifying personal health metrics is translating into demand for fitness tracking devices and smartwatches. Meanwhile, businesses in a variety of industries have been quick to sense the opportunities for harnessing health data from employees, consumers, and patients to help drive efficiencies and enhance services related to healthcare.

In 2016, I believe, wearable payment solutions will witness an upsurge, with the proliferation of mobile-based services and the reducing median price of smartphones, the payment industry is on an exponential growth trajectory. Dematerialisation and digitisation of plastic cards will force banks to re-invent and innovate. Ease of making payment is the new customer demand which will see a departure from traditional encrypted password-based payments to biometric security-based payments. Additionally, with the boom in e-commerce that has also fuelled the customer’s comfort with online purchases, thus compelling the banks to use innovative channels to reach out to new customers.

In the healthcare industry, with tech behemoths such as Google introducing Contact lenses that help monitor the glucose levels in an individual to the innovation of medical procedures centric wearables: Tiny devices embedded with sensors that can be swallowed to track digestion and the absorption of drugs supporting GI procedures like colonoscopy etc. Corporate health care systems and hospitals in India are definitely keen on wearable devices, since the high volume of data generated by such devices may lead to new ways of identifying disease symptoms, measuring wellness and discovering non-conventional vital signs. Thus mounting the pressure on wearables to further work on the accuracy of their data.

Also the evolution of wearable technology in healthcare is expected to revolutionise the health insurance industry whereby wearables shall play a crucial role in determining the premiums in accordance with the risks associated with individual and group health insurance plans. Insurers can use this information to set targets and incentives for policyholders to live a healthier lifestyle, encouraging them with the possibility of lower premiums.

With security being a major threat to all, wearables shall play an important role in combating safety issues by introducing SOS devices alternately using them as access devices. Many times, when faced with personal threat, it becomes almost impossible to take the smartphone out from your pocket or handbag, unlock it, and send out an emergency message. In such situations, a wristband could make all the difference in broadcasting that crucial SMS with your location data to your immediate emergency contacts.

Thus I believe that the future of wearable technology isn’t about fitness bands or health monitors, it’s about what can be done with the data accumulated and how it can be used to an individual’s advantage, be it his health or his security, as that’s the next level of engagement consumers are looking for. Additionally I also believe this kind of deep analysis of data is not something a single company can achieve as it will need collaboration between industries, technology and science to provide meaningful insights.

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 25-01-2016)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Vishal Gondal

The author is founder and CEO of GOQii

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