I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “they’re always attached to their phone” more than a few times over the course of the last few years, but with wearable technology advancing in the last year it would seem our phones are starting to be attached to us.
In 2016 PWC released a Customer Intelligence Series report on wearable tech, according to which, people are warming to wearables. In 2014 most were wary of the impact it could have on their lives, now it would seem more are excited about it’s potential. However, as PWC stated; consumer excitement does not always correlate to consumer trust. Price, privacy and question of use are the main reasons for not purchasing wearable tech.
Most people would like their wearables to feature some form of reward as an incentive to keep using it. Despite this, of those who don’t already own a wearable, 24% said they would likely buy one in the next 12 months – over 50% of those likely to purchase a fitness band.
Obsession with personal health and fitness suddenly rose in 2014 with many people suddenly acting like they’re training to be athletes, social media feeds are filled with photos of friends at the gym, workout videos, couples yoga, detox teas and some rather interestingly coloured smoothies. With all this, of course the tech industry was going to be quick to follow suit. The original FitBit was released in 2008, but it started gaining traction in 2014, and it wasn’t until 2015 that the Apple Watch was released. Since then we’ve seen a quick succession of wearable tech released in the fitness tracking sector.
With that said, wearable devices in healthcare aren’t solely limited to fitness uses; they are starting to make their way into the medical industry. Last year I came across an article about a blood glucose monitor in development that doesn’t need to sample blood directly every time it performs a measurement, the user would calibrate the device with an initial blood sample, then simply wear it on their arm and it would take readings of their blood glucose level using microwaves. This year a friend of mine is due to get a similar device implanted into their arm. It’s seemingly “simple” tech like this that will slowly start to change the way we live our lives and how we take care of our bodies.
Wearables can also be found in the form of smart clothes, wristbands that zap you for spending too much, cameras (i.e. GoPros, helmet cameras…), Virtual Reality headsets and not forgetting the release of Google Glass in May 2014 – which we quickly lost sight of in January 2015 when it went back into development. 2015 was to be the “year of VR”, but with most products being pushed back until later in 2016, it’s now that it’s truly starting to take its place.
While many are getting excited about the concept of being able to fully immerse themselves within their gaming consoles, the medical industry is exploring the idea of using VR for medical training and even within the operating theatre. Philips recently announced a new breakthrough Augmented Reality spine surgery navigation technology, so it’s not hard to imagine doctors soon being able to “see through” their patients with reconstructed CT scans, with the combination of this and products like Microsoft’s HoloLens, which has also been tried out by some surgeons.
To me, and others working in a medical branding agency environment, this is where tech truly starts to get exciting. Whilst it’s considered cool to own the latest bit of tech, it’s incredible to see how these advances can help improve medical treatment and quality of life. From helping the blind to see, to allowing an amputee shake a hand with a bionic arm featuring a drone – seriously, this is a thing – wearables are definitely something to get excited about.