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Wearables technology witnessing enormous rise in popularity

In 2014, wearable technology saw an enormous increase in popularity with Internet searches for related terms increasing ten-fold and over $1 billion invested towards development in this domain.  While the technology is still in its infancy, experts predict that wearable devices will rise at a 154% annual compound rate through 2017 with over 110 million devices being sold. Analysts at Morgan Stanley believe it will become a $1.6 trillion business in the near-future. Crowdfunding has become the source of choice in bringing creative ideas to the wearable market, and 2014 saw crowdfunding companies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo raise money with high success and delivery rates.

There are several technologies that revolutionize wearable devices; few of them are Sensors, Form factor, Display and software. At present motion sensors like accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, pressure sensors are the dominant type of sensors used in wearables. UI-related MEMS sensors & microphones for voice control will be integrated to wearables soon. Form factor also plays a major role in wearable technology; not just with respect to the SoC but also for the entire system. Packages like quad flat no-lead (QFN), micro-chip-scale packaging (uCSP) and wafer scale chip packaging (CSP) are popular solutions for power management, microcontrollers and wireless functions due to their small form factors which can be used on small PCBs or integrated with the use of flex-based circuits. Android Wear OS brought Google into the software world of wearables when it was launched on March 18, 2014. There is also Tizen, the open-source by Samsung and Intel, MediaTek’s LinkIt and the Wearable OS expected from LG.

The focus in the current wearable market is clearly on wrist-mounted devices like smartwatches, fitness bands or a combination of the two. But, the future of wearables is not limited to our wrists alone. There are plenty of places like Medical and Banking that manufacturers are keen to venture into with their desirable tech pieces. Google, Apple and  Microsoft have launched their own health and wellness platforms to extract data from people who are having a health conditions about what they have done or to measure essential data. Doctors have increasingly shown interest in using these wearables to give regular information to the patients about health.

Cambridge Consultants are working on a UV hair slide that would tell how much UV exposure you have had on a summer day! A pair of headphones could monitor your heart’s electrical activity and feed the data to your smart phone. Several developers are working on a tattoo that will be implanted on the skin of the hand and would interact with everything that a person touches like locking/unlocking doors,rotecting credit card information and so on. These new gadgets are just around the corner. Some of the other product trends that are emerging in the wearable world are:
Sensors and Glasses.
Tech-Woven Clothes.
Home Automation.

The writer is Mr. Sachidananda K, Senior Technical Architect-Software Design, Mistral Solutions.


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