Wearables are having an early mid-life crisis. The tri-axis accelerometers baked into most activity tracking wearables are limited in potential at best – they provide a limited amount of movement data, and algorithms for determining activity can only scale so much. The more limited the tracking technology, the harder apps and online platforms have to work to interpret and provide context around the information they’re providing. Only when we see expanded tracking capabilities and metrics from other integrated tracking components will we begin to see the true potential of this data.
That being said, as the technology becomes more inexpensive and easier to integrate into everything from watchbands and clothing to tattoos and jewelry, more and more users will continue to try them and their connected services. The big question is: how long will users find value in those services? That’s where most wearables struggle to stay relevant.
So What’s Next For Wearables?
Moving into 2016, we are going to see a rise in bolt-on trackers that will make dumb wearables smarter. For example: modular tracker components like bands or cases for a traditional watch or clothing. We are also going to see the continued growth and proliferation of disposable trackers meant for limited use in treatment or in articles like t-shirts and socks that will eventually wear out and stop working.
The other passive feature we should expect to see more of is data banking. Apps like Apple’s HealthApp (powered by health kit) already allow us to collect data and store it in our phone or on the cloud. But how many people use that data, or are even aware of the data that is generated. Future apps and services are going to seek to mine that banked data for health, research and fitness use.