Wearable technology has come a long way since its beginnings. The Sony Walkman was the symbol for the first generation able to listen to music on the go. Later, the world saw hearing aids, early versions of smartwatches, Bluetooth headsets and more.
Wearables trends have evolved over the years and are still changing people’s lives and workplaces by the year. Events like a pandemic have altered the course of the wearables market and other industries. These seven trends are some of the ways people are adjusting to life in an ever-changing world.
1. COVID Contact Tracing
The world is still battling COVID-19. New variants have emerged even two years after the first detection of the virus. Wearables have had an impact on the pandemic and vice versa. Companies have developed the technology to use wearables as contact tracers.
Some businesses allow their employees to work from home, but companies in industries like manufacturing need their workers on-site, so they use wearable technology to stay safe.
One of the primary ways to stay safe in a pandemic is to keep at least 6 feet away from others. This wearable technology collects data on the user to help control any outbreak in the workplace. If an employee gets sick, their wearable will make contact tracing easier because it can alert everyone else who had a wearable and came into contact with them in a designated period.
2. Storage Wars
It seems electronics get smaller as technology evolves. Computers went from taking up an entire room to powerful, compact laptops. Music players went from boomboxes down to as small as an iPod Shuffle. A similar trend is happening with the wearables market.
Companies designing wearables must balance multiple factors, such as price, storage capacity and screen resolution. A bigger memory chip means a larger device with a higher price tag. Manufacturers need to make their devices as efficient as possible with memory, and they do that by using highly compressed images instead of high-definition ones. This method saves space on items with limited storage.
3. Supply Chain Issues and Solutions
The pandemic has affected most industries worldwide, and wearables are no exception. Slowed labor due to shortages and other factors has caused worldwide production declines for many sectors. Wearable production decreased by about 13% in 2020 in the first stage of the pandemic. This slowdown came after the industry saw an 89% increase in its market growth in 2019.
Though the pandemic decreased their production, wearables have had an impact by handling supply chain issues. For example, they can reduce manual labor and waste in a packaging line. Lessening the amount of manual work helps streamline processes. For example, employees with wearables can process packages quicker, increasing their daily output and mitigating the backlog a supply chain may cause.
4. Workplace Safety
Wearable trends have increased worker productivity and protected employees’ safety at the same time. Companies can track their heart rate, location and physical activity throughout the shift. Companies can use AI and machine learning to process this data at scale to find new ways to mitigate risk. This technology is beneficial in industries like construction and manufacturing, where the risk of injury is high.
For example, wearables can help employees monitor their lifting, movement, posture and proximity to danger. These technologies make work more efficient and protect the worker’s health in the short and long term. It also helps companies comply better with workplace safety regulations that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets.
5. Battery Life
One of the most critical factors of a wearable is battery life. People want their wearables to have a long battery life to last the duration of their activity and beyond. A runner may run a marathon and need at least four or five hours of constant use. A factory worker using a wearable device may need eight, 10 or 12 hours of battery life to last the entire shift.
Manufacturers have taken battery life into account and tried to improve it. Companies have implemented power-saving techniques, such as a device sleep mode when the user is not actively touching the screen. Developers have also optimized the screen by controlling the device’s backlight. Using darker colors instead of white uses less battery power.
6. Senior Citizen Health
Senior citizens have been using wearable technology for over a decade now. Companies like Life Alert became popular because older people with limited mobility could push a button on the necklace to contact emergency services if they fell and couldn’t get up. The wearables have gotten even better for the elderly and most vulnerable.
Wearables can help senior citizens track their oxygen levels and other health issues. They also allow people to monitor their sleeping habits. Seniors need more rest for their mind and body, so using technology to monitor their sleep can help them age better.
Advances in wearable technology have come in handy during the pandemic because the proportion of older people grows daily. Staff shortages have put a strain on nursing homes, so allowing more senior citizens to stay at home can help with overcrowding.
7. General Health Tracking
The wearables market has made life easier for fitness enthusiasts, especially since the pandemic. Lockdowns and restrictions temporarily closed gyms or limited the number of people allowed in the facility. People started turning to at-home workouts to keep up their fitness regimen. People are still using wearables for exercising even as gyms reopen.
Wearables can track walking and help people achieve their step goals every day. Those features have been around for a while. These devices can also better monitor heart rate and blood oxygen saturation, among other health metrics. The next trend in the wearables market could be monitoring blood sugar, which would benefit people with diabetes.
These trends in wearables can make people less dependent on a doctor’s office or in-home nurse to monitor their health.
Wearables Trends Make a Safer World
Wearable technology today is a far cry from where it was just a decade ago. Wearables for recreation, work and more have made life easier and safer for people looking to have fun or be safer at work. Global events like a pandemic make industries shift with new advancements. People can care for themselves better through health tracking and contact tracing, and the future looks bright with the research and development of software like blood sugar monitoring. This tech is making life easier and safer for most everyone.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, a magazine exploring how innovations change our world. She has over five years of experience writing articles in the industrial and tech sectors.