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Where is wearable technology heading in 2015?

Where is wearable technology heading in 2015?

Wearables will have smarter algorithms for data correlation, and start to enter the workplace

More advanced algorithms will pull together different types of data from wearables and these devices will start to enter the workplace next year, analysts have predicted.

Gartner analyst, Angela McIntyre, said Apple, Google and Samsung are examples of companies investing in capabilities for wearable devices to integrate and make correlations between a consumer’s heart rate, daily activities, food intake, and so on.

“We will see more advancement ... in the algorithms that take the data from the sensors and the wearables and make sense of it; separating out the very noisy signals that are being collected about our heart rate or activities and interpreting those signals to give us accurate information to detect a wider range of activities that we might be doing,” she said.

McIntyre said consumers will able to draw their own insights from that information by having it all together. Over time, algorithms will also pick out correlations between information that help people determine what's important to them, while detecting patterns that help them live healthier lives.

Companies are also starting to realise the value of data insights from wearables, McIntyre said. For example, Virgin is using Google Glass to bring up information on VIP customers’ preferences when greeting them at the airport check-in.

Alistair Leathwood, executive director at TNS Australia, added that MasterCard was using biometric data from wearables to authenticate people when making payments.

“So using your unique heart rate to authenticate you, almost like a finger print,” he explains. “It’s not clear that is saves you more than a couple of seconds over using your fingerprint, but that seems to be the way that we are going - anything that requires less effort and less steps.”

Forrester analyst, Tim Sheedy doesn’t see wearables taking off beyond the wrist band next year as the major clothing brands are yet to embrace the technology.

“A year ago we thought the big clothing manufactures might get into wearables faster, they haven’t particularly. So that dampens the enthusiasm for the space a little bit,” he said. “Without the support of the big clothing manufacturers, wearables won’t take off for a while.”

Wearables will start to enter the workplace next year and be used for more than just corporate fitness and wellness programs, McIntyre said.

“Through smart watches, for example, people could have information about appointments be shown to them before they happen or have key information they need to have as they are going into an appointment.

“It could not only show logistics but also who they will be meeting with, what the last interaction was, they can scroll through quickly on their watch and take key snippets of information that would be helpful for them if they don’t have time to pull out their smartphone or tablet to seek out that information,” she said.

As there has been quite a lot of homogeny in the wearables market this year, the challenge for next year for tech companies is to find ways of branching out and differentiating themselves, Sheedy said.

“Fitbit was the leader in the on wrist fitness tracking space, Pebble had its smartwatch, Samsung was getting into the smartwatch space. Now everything starting to look the same, everything is becoming a smartwatch, everything has the same features and functionality," he said.

"And I don’t see it moving. I haven’t seen much investment in Silicon Valley around companies moving it beyond the wrist,” he said.

“I’ll use Fitbit as an example. In January or February, they did a recall of their most recent fitness band. Not until November/December that the replacement products have come out. There is a long product development cycle. The point is anything exciting you see in the startup space isn’t going to hit the product space until probably 2016.”

Etiquacy around respecting people’s privacy will also develop with wearables next year, McIntyre said.

“If we look back in the history of cameras, most new types of cameras that have been introduced to the public have had suspicion around it and privacy concerns. "When the cameras in smartphones were new features, there was a lot of concern about people bringing their smartphones to the gym and filming people in the locker room.

“But now we don’t hear about those concerns. It’s not that people are getting used to getting filmed in the gym, but there are etiquettes that have developed around that.”

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Tags GartnerGoogleApplesamsungVirginGoogle Glasswearable devicesWearablesAngela McIntyreTNS AustraliaAlistair Leathwood

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