The world of wearables is upon us and smartwatches are set to take centre stage. They keep us connected and informed in a way we haven’t been until now. Business Insider reports that smartwatches will account for 59 per cent of total wearable device shipments this year and, according to a recent study by Nielsen Canada, 18 per cent of Canadians are wearable tech users with 20 per cent of Canadians planning to purchase a wearable device next year.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a We Are Wearables Toronto event as a panelist for their smartwatch spotlight. Sparked by the opportunities smartwatches present, the discussion focused on how these devices can change the way we work, communicate, and manage our health.
In the past year alone there has been significant growth with large brands including LG, Motorola and Samsung taking stronger steps forward with their smartwatch offerings. And, with the Apple Watch announcement this past fall, if it wasn’t already, the smartwatch is bound to become an essential extension of your smartphone.
So, when it comes to smartwatches, here’s what we can look forward to in 2015:
If you’re going to replace your timepiece with a smartwatch, you likely want something attractive and fashionable. We saw smartwatches really step up their game this past year with sleeker, more fashion-focused devices. Just take a look at the Moto 360 staying true to the classic wristwatch shape with a round face and stylish bands. Probably the best example of design to date has been from Kairos, which released a concept product that merges the functionality of a smartwatch with the premium design of a traditional watch.
There’s no doubt that we’ll see a greater focus on fashion and style next year with designer brands joining the space. GUESS Watches recently partnered with Martian Watches, a California-based smartwatch developer and rumours are circulating that LVMH, a luxury goods conglomerate that owns luxury brands including Louis Vuitton and Fendi, has been considering trying its hand with smartwatches. Fancy, huh?
Improved health and fitness monitoring
When you look at your watch, do you think “wow, this is extending my life expectancy?” Probably not. Smartwatches, however, can help you take better care of your health with the ability to easily keep tabs on your personal goals. Access to real-time information like your heart rate or body temperature can provide insight into your health that you never had before, just by glancing at your wrist. For example, the Apple Watch is said to have two LEDs located in the base, shining light into the blood vessels located in the wrist, used to calculate a precise heart rate. Imagine the quality of care your doctor could provide if you shared this information at your next appointment, especially if you are someone with a chronic condition like high blood pressure, by having access to – quite literally – vital data.
An increased use of apps
Google released Android Wear, a modification of its Android operating system designed for smartwatches and other wearables, to encourage app development. The open platform allows developers to work within the platform to design apps that meet and anticipate customers’ needs when it comes to wearable technology. With a variety of apps already in existence including 1Weather, Google Keep and Swipify, future smartwatch apps will play a larger role allowing people to do more with their watch.
All in all, one of the largest changes we’ll see with smartwatches is how they become an extension of the user – not the phone. What role will your smartwatch play in your life?