As with so many emerging technology trends, the pundits can’t seem to agree whether the driving forces behind wearable technology are going to come from enterprise or consumer-facing apps. Consumer developments always grab the headlines, but enterprise functions are usually far more successful at producing revenue streams and radically rethinking the way businesses operate. Experts predict that the market for wearables is going to reach over $12 billion by 2018. By then, there will already be clear industry leaders and losers. So where are the future leaders of wearable app development looking right now?
AR Meets Wearables in Manufacturing, Modeling, and Medicine
With the meteoric success of Pokémon Go, augmented reality seems to be having its moment in the consumer-friendly media spotlight. AR has always promised revolutionary changes to the gaming world, but its potential in manufacturing, design, and medicine could change everything from product design to surgical procedures. The combination of augmented reality with wearables like smart glasses marks a shift away from touch screens. Hands-free computing opens up incredible possibilities, for example, surgeons could access data while in the middle of surgery without compromising attention or the sterility of the theater. Another workforce application became eminently clear with the launch of Meta, a headset that allows users to manipulate 3D objects right before their eyes. Anyone who works with 3D models now has a brand new way to design products – and now they can do it anywhere, anytime, with a portable headset. There is also plenty of speculation that digital imagery provided by AR can revolutionize industrial repairs by giving mechanics access to schematics that show how a piece of equipment should operate.
It’s not just industry that’s benefiting from app development in this sector, but the runways from New York to Milan, too. E-textiles or smart garments have been waking waves on the runways ever since Google Glass made a surprise appearance at New York Fashion Week back in 2012. Despite the cutting-edge technology, Google is decidedly not in the fashion industry for a reason, and the clunky look of these devices has proven to be a real obstacle to their widespread adoption. Fortunately, companies that started off in the clothing business are starting to see the real potential of technology that’s small enough to be integrated into textiles without being noticed, such as Ralph Lauren’s tennis shirts that monitor heart rate and body temperature. Others have developed solar panels integrated into garments, enabling users to charge their cellphones as they walk. Of course, not all of the world’s fashionistas are looking to add functionality to their clothes. Some are focusing on what they do best: avant-garde styles, such as Ying Gao’s photo luminescent dresses that are only activated when someone is staring at them. IoT might prove to be the richest realm for experimentation with wearables according to Toronto mobile app developers Clearbridge Mobile, who have been leading advances in mobile and touchless payment technologies.
Everything on Your Phone Will Now Be on Your Wrist
With the growth in smartwatch sales reflecting a more diverse range of available apps, businesses with mobile apps are realizing that they need to get on smartwatch platforms – especially media. The Wall Street Journal realized that its readers wanted the news fast and they wanted it to be as convenient as checking the time. They turned to Clearbridge Mobile app development services in Toronto to build apps that would be native to Galaxy Gear and Android Wear. The native build presents headlines as push notifications so that users are alerted to the pressing political and business events of the day as they break. Perhaps even more importantly, the WSJ also included a real-time market data scroll, so users can keep their eye on the market as they read stories. With companies like Clearbridge pushing for more experimentation in mobile space and wearable technology, future development will likely have less to do with catching up to the platform’s native strengths and weakness and more about IoT.
One of the industries pegged for growth in wearables is travel. Travel apps are only now gaining steam as “life organizing” tools that help stressed travelers keep track of their schedules and check-ins, the status of their flights, and maps of exciting new cities. Many new apps allow travelers to save the locations of their “off-the-beaten-track” finds and even make payments (meaning less need for cash and credit cards on hand). Safety conscious travelers will appreciate the added protection of a smartwatch over an easily pick-pocketed wallet, too.
The convenience and excitement of new wearable apps will always make consumer-facing developments the talk of the town. However, with the integration of AR into wearable technology, enterprise functions look like they’re going to drive the future of this technology.
Michael Sanduso lives in Toronto, Canada. He is a freelance writer and editor, tech geek, and stay at home father.