Smart wristbands and other wearables are among the most talked about gadgets right now, but they are considered by most simply as a curiosity rather than something really essential. Health experts, however, expect a shift in consumer behavior and that wearable technology will start to truly change our life in 2015.
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The predictions for the upcoming year are very exciting as technology’s primary focus will be on health. Experts from New York-based market research firm S&P Capital IQ predict that wearable technology will move to mass-market products. They estimate that at the end of this year, approximately 20 million devices will be sold, with the number doubling in 2015. Currently, these devices – smart watches, hand bands, and more, have been mainly utilized by athletes and tech aficionados, but companies are now realizing the potential of benefitting also regular people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, insomnia, and even chronic mental illness or epilepsy.
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A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Initiative says that less than half of the people with such devices use them on a daily basis. Among the 1,000 surveyed people in the US, 21% have purchased such a device, 52% of them don’t use it every day, and another 10% of the people have stopped using it. This is mainly due to the fact that today, wearable technology doesn’t offer really new things – EKG, pedometers and calorie counting existed 20 years ago. The basic difference is the modern use of cloud computing and of course, the connectivity. And while the real change should come from the medical industry, according to experts, companies such as Google and Apple have already started to make difference.
Leading the way next year will be Apple Watch, which will be released in the spring and is believed to feature a number of health and fitness functions. The tech giant’s most anticipated gadget will bring the wearable idea to the general public, although its specific options and functions aren’t yet known. The company is known for its innovation, so the Apple Watch is expected to be really functional and expand its effectiveness beyond simple counting of steps and calories. The announcement made it even more popular than many existing and already available for purchase smart watches such as the devices by Samsung, LG, and Motorola.
But other companies are also developing amazing tech gadgets, which promise to change our lives very soon. Microsoft has already revealed its Band – a fitness and health tracker, which acts also as a smart watch as you can see your text messages or check who’s calling. In addition, the Microsoft Band measures the UV exposure, which is a really innovative and worthy feature considering the rapid increase of cancers, including skin cancers, in recent years.
But the potential of wearable technology is really astonishing. Right now, Canadian banks are researching whether they can use the data from a wristband, made by startup Bionym. The device measures unique elements of your EGG pattern and could be utilized to authenticate payments. Another device, called Basic Peak, keeps track on your heart rate and pulse while you sleep. Its sensors also measure body temperature and perspiration. It is already available on the market and can be found here for about $350.
Adidas’ devices can also be purchased, from the regular miCoach Heart Rate Monitor to the more sophisticated miCoach Smart Run, which has a built-in accelerometer, strength and flexibility coaching videos, and more. The Fitbit Charge Wireless Activity Wristband, however, is currently one of the most popular fitness trackers on the market. It monitors activity, sleep, and has a more advanced heart-rating version.
Wearables are becoming smarter, more sophisticated and accurate, but with these health functions, they are already entering the mass market. Soon, there will be wristbands, hair accessories, and jewelry that will monitor not only our health, but also the environment such as UV light and air pollution.