Kazou Kashio, CEO of Casio was quoted last year describing the human wrist as “prime real estate”. Kazou was alluding to the biggest technology battle that will take place in 2014; the fight to dominate the wearable technology market. While there are a number of innovations taking place in the wearable technology space at the moment, with everything from smart glasses to intelligent hearing aids being developed, perhaps where the competition will be fiercest is around the wrist.
Previously wristwear was exclusively the domain of traditional watch manufacturers like Casio and Tag Heuer or fashion jewellers. But now technology companies are taking an interest as we have seen with the release of products like the Pebble Smartwatch or Samsung Galaxy Gear.
One of the reasons why kitting out someone’s wrist with the latest tech is so attractive for users and technology companies is that that glancing down at a screen attached to the wrist is already a natural action for many people.
While using a Google glass for everyday use will take some adapting to before it can be used safely, strapping on the latest smartwatch can be seen as more of an upgrade that seamlessly blends smartphones and watches.
There are already lots of existing areas where smart watches could improve user’s lives. For example, today’s keyless entry for vehicles will probably move to wearable and in the future watches will act as the key for the entire car – most luxury car makers already offer their own wrist watches – and is a great channel to help build brand recognition.
In the home environment smartwatches will interact with Zigbee and Bluetooth allowing users to control the home environment. Heating, lighting, AV equipment etc. will all be controlled by simply making a gesture with an arm or using apps installed on the watch. Soon the smartwatch will be the only key anyone needs, the technology passport that gives access and control of your entire life.
Sensory data is also a rapidly growing market for wearable tech. Using sensors built into a smartwatch, environmental factors such as humidity, pressure and temperature can be collected and processed. Everyone’s local weather info can then be collated together and stored in the cloud to produce a micro-climate model. This would enable closer, more accurate measurement of air pollution and even plants could be watered automatically depending on conditions.
Already we have seen a lot of smartwatch innovations designed around fitness and health monitoring – Nike’s FuelBand, Fitbit and Jawbone to name just a few. But heart rate monitoring has applications beyond just fitness. Already applications have been developed to use unique heart rhythms as a way to replace fingerprint identification.
Wrist-based tech innovation is not just limited to smartwatches. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has unveiled its own RFID wrist tag application built using NXP technology. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts’ MagicBands and cards are all-in-one devices that serve as guests’ park ticket, room key and more.
With a MagicBand on their wrist or a card in their pocket, guests can get the most from the park experience. The technology also uses Bluetooth, NFC to enable guest to book places on rides with the enhanced FastPass system FastPass+.
RFID bracelets like the Disney MagicBand are increasingly being used for for entrance and paying at festivals and other events. What could be easier than paying for items with a tap of the wrist? It’s simple, convenient natural movement and means no more lost cash at festivals.
The evolution in wearable tech is all about enhancing the lives of users and making everyday functions simpler and easier so we can concentrate on the things that matter. NXP is a driving force in the wearable technology industry so to learn more about how NXP technology is helping create secure connections for a smarter world visit us at our stand at Mobile World Congress (Hall 7 Stand 7E30) and arrange a conversation.