According to a report by Businesswire, the global wearable technology market size is expected to reach USD 118.16 billion by 2028, registering a CAGR of 13.8% from 2021 to 2028. At the forefront of this surge is the immense popularity of fitness trackers and healthcare wearables, advancing the market for wearable devices, in every industry.
During this growing demand for wearable devices, companies across several verticals are partnering with product design companies to develop new wearable devices and update existing designs. To make the most of this worldwide trend, it’s important that companies rethink what wearables can be, scale their capabilities and explore the opportunities and challenges of bringing wearable devices to market.
Even since the pandemic, there have been some major changes in wearable development. For example, in the healthcare segment, wearables have been bridging the gap between healthcare providers and patients who have not been able to access traditional medical care during lockdowns. In every sector, we’re seeing some interesting new ideas and changes in the development of wearable devices. These are a few trends that stand out:
1) User Interfaces Beyond Touch:
User interaction is central to wearable device technology. There is a clear shift away from touch-based user interfaces towards more motion, tactile, gesture, and voice-activated interfaces. This UI shift is fuelled by the demand for smaller, compact devices, and richer UI interfaces on display devices that can enable a seamless and enhanced interactive user experience.
The virtual 2021 Consumer Electronics Show brought this trend into the spotlight, showcasing several healthcare wearables that rely on touchless interfaces including HealthyU, a remote patient monitoring device, FallCall, a fall detection system for the elderly, and BioIntelliSense, an FDA Class 2 vital sign monitoring system
2) Importance of Wearable Regulatory Device Certification:
It’s important for design teams to distinguish between general wellness wearables like smartwatches and regulated medical devices. For wearables that rely on body signals and are often placed on the skin, in the ear, or meant to be worn continuously, it’s critical to understand and comply with medical regulatory certification to ensure their long-term success.
All design steps from concept, to prototype, to testing, should be made keeping regulatory certifications in mind. As getting certifications can be a long and tedious process, design teams should work in parallel to ensure that the certified product reaches the market on time.
3) Focus on Device Security and Privacy
As wearable healthcare devices become more accepted by consumers and are often capturing personal data, including sensitive medical data, there are natural concerns over data privacy. In this environment, data security and protection for users become crucial.
Companies developing new wearable devices need to have a strong strategy in place to build trust with users, meet regulatory requirements, and secure data against threats and attacks. Data security is vital for all wearable products regardless of the kind of data they collect, store and analyze. Customers value data security as much as they value the physical design features of their wearables.
4) Emergence of New Wearable Categories:
The days when wearables were synonymous with fitness trackers are over. Even though fitness trackers are the majority of the wearable market, new and novel wearables are solving issues and making healthcare more accessible.
Specifically, in the medical industry, incredibly innovative wearables are revolutionizing the very idea of what’s possible. A few examples include NeuroVine: Concussion Recovery System and
Calibre Bio: Breath Calorimetry Measurement Tool.
Additional wearable healthcare device categories seeing innovation include insulin patches, contact lenses, air-purifying masks, blood pressure monitors, hearing aids, mood trackers, and wellness aids. Outside of healthcare, new categories in wearables will include the integration of wearable technology into fabrics and clothing, greater personalization, more accurate measurements, and alternate sources of energy including human body movement.
It’s an outstanding achievement of design and computing that devices of minuscule size can have the kind of impact that wearable technology has on our lives today. The wearable market presents unique design and engineering challenges as well as privacy and security dilemmas. At the same time, the popularity of wearables worldwide affirms their potential to provide advancements in fitness, healthcare, and other sectors. There is no doubt that the wearable design of the future will make users’ lives better, in more ways than we can imagine today.
Author: Kevin Bailey, CEO, Design 1st, https://www.design1st.