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Mega-Trends in Wearable Tech shape a new Era of Smarter Connected Living

Strategic Advisor & Innovation Catalyst

Emerging Paradigms and rapidly Evolving Mega-Trends in Wearable Tech shape a new Era of Smarter Connected Living …

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A new chapter of Meaning & Substance in this Digital Age of Reason has begun and transforming the world of Immersive & Experiential Innovation. Technology is getting increasingly more pervasive and hyper-personal. The IoT/IoE/Web3.0 revolution has indeed sparked smart/connected Living at the intersection of multiple industries from smart homes, industrial internet (with GE dubbing the term IIoT) to autonomous vehicles (which are rapidly maturing as I personally experienced couple of weeks ago test driving the new Tesla in the heart of Si Valley).

Coming to the topic of this conversation, the smart wearables and devices ecosystem is undergoing major paradigm shifts with recent advances in sensor technologies. Developments are bringing about radically new benefits and disruptions in the Safety/Security, Health/Wellness, Education/Learning & Fin-tech domains. On top of that embedding Gamification as a horizontal theme adds to the value proposition bringing about several new use-cases.

IoT or IoE (as Cisco like to calls it) is rapidly making a bigger dent in our daily lives. The numbers are up for grabs (from 50bn connected devices from the likes of Ericsson to 7 trillion according to Amdocs). A major touch point for IoT that is bringing a new meaning to personalised convergence is the space of ‘Wearables’. In layman’s terms it is actually a broader area from ‘Inneables’ (that includes Implants, Ingestibles i.e. in the body), to ‘Wearables’ (as we generally use the term i.e. Wrist-worn, Eye-worn, Smart clothing which is on the body) and then finally ‘Outables’ (around the body). Other sub-terms gaining traction are ‘hearables’ which opens up more convergent opportunities leading to ‘disappearables’ in the not to distant future! We can see that IoT is headed to become the ‘Intelligence of Things’.

There is enough real-estate/surface-area for Wearables to work on which can be used more wisely. Tech has rapidly been evolving in Flexible screens (from rollable, bendable and foldable) to alternative natural energy harnessing from the likes of kinetic, body heat, etc. which opens up several new possibilities. We are seeing the application of nano-technology with materials such as Graphene making a substantial difference here. And then in terms of maturity of natural user interfaces (NUI) we again see disruptive developments in areas such as hand-gesture control (e.g. Google’s project Soli).

We are witnessing an exponential growth in Wearables as they ‘cross the chasm’ from early adaptors to early majority who want actual solutions (to real pain points and problems) and convenience rather than just cool tech.

In the next wave of sensors precision, accuracy and quality formulate a strong foundation to build compelling solutions around. With continuous measurements of parameters such as HRV (Heart-Rate-Variability) we can gauge detailed metrics like physiological stress. And when we collate other valuable & variable data such as EEG (brain-waves), galvanic skin response the proposition becomes significant for deep analytics that can be utilized for proactive / predictive means to influence behavioural change. Big Data, after all is only useful if actionable insights can be promptly derived from it.

The ability to rightly digest that big data is another art or should I say science, immersive/interactive visualisation is probably the most formidable tool to that effect. HMDs/eye-worn wearables are transcending story-telling to a new level with applications around AR/VR – really a more potent combination called MR (Mixed or Mediated Reality). This space is gaining swift traction across many sectors from Edutainment to Enterprise Mobility. Along with 360deg video and holography the proposition to provide a ‘better way to see’ becomes quite powerful.

We see new enablement and increasing empowerment for individuals to take greater charge in their own hands as ‘prosumers’. A holistic perspective is required to integrate relevant elements of the above to build a compelling and highly customisable proposition. We see immense need for both ends of the spectrum – from the young minds of tomorrow (children) with areas to address such as obesity, attention spans, mental health/stress management, balance between digital (screen time) and physical play through to the golden agers / elderly where there is a sizeable growth in ageing population and increase in chronic conditions – Heart diseases, Dementia, Alzheimer’s and so on.

There is a need to micro-segment and setup a strong foundation i.e. a smart platform that can address various vertical needs. This will speed up the penetration to meaningful independence for the wearer whilst bring peace of mind and transparency to the carer.

It is not just about creating ecosystems, rather curating appropriate ones along with orchestration of smart platforms to bring about this transformation. Fast-tracking opportunities from ‘Sketch-to-Scale’ (as Flex like to dub it) is an engaging approach to bring mind-to-market or ideas-to-impact in this era of ‘Connected Intelligence’.

Amongst the clutter of connected devices we are living with and that are constantly flooding the market there has been dilution of purpose e.g. just look at number of fitness tracker bands/smart-watches flooding the market. This poses a colossal opportunity to provide hyper-contextual solutions of substance with clear/meaningful benefits. We are subsequently witnessing an emerging mass movement to de-clutter from the un-necessary and put our focus towards the essence of what’s important in our lives.

As Peter Diamandis (Exec chairman of SingularityU) says to stay ahead of the curve in these extraordinary times we need to reason exponentially not incrementally, thinking big to impact the billions and not just millions. With the mass democratization mega-trend across industries it has never been more exciting times for the individual to take on relevant tech & its benefits by its horns.

It is the power of connected simplicity (or ‘Simplexity’) through smart, simple and effective integration of robust technologies that will hide the complexity in the back-end whilst flourishing the benefits in the front-end.

As part of the holistic ‘health in your hands’ approach referring also to Eric Topol’s ‘The Patient will See you Now’ we are talking of the hyper-empowered individual who is ready to take full charge. This synergizes well with the ‘flipped classroom’ old school transformation in the education domain where the ‘teacher’ is ‘no longer a sage on the stage anymore but a guide on the side’. This mega-trend is a key change agent to bring about innovative/more meaningful solutions to the market addressing some of the major problems that face us today.

The ultimate focus needs to revolve around providing a delightful User Experience (UX which is really a function of the Hardware, Software, Content/Apps & Services). Human centred design thinking with context adaptive tech will be integral to providing the most relevant solution.

Consumers are playing an increasingly role in co-creating the value from the new-age products and services. An interesting blend of function and fashion are leading the next generation of devices. An essential ingredient to the conception of novel solutions will be to address the WHY with a strong enough Purpose that in turn through deep Passion will trigger the right stimuli.

Taking a holistic approach into transforming information to valuable knowledge and into subsequent wisdom will lead to the next wave of disruptions. With this age of reason & meaning we are noting an interesting inter-play of EQ over IQ (mind & spirit over matter), form with function which is leading to brands leveraging more equity with ESP (Emotional Selling Propositions) rather than simply USP (Unique Selling Points). We need to build a lot more empathetic solutions applying innovation techniques such as ethnography, nano-segmentation and culture immersion. To that effect a great initiative I have been fortunate to support is a movement on Global Empathy called ‘Stand in My Shoes’. I represent this as part of a principal shift from ‘mindset to heartset’ as we need to advance into a foresight driven approach.

A dream and a vision that I was privileged to share with H.H. Dalai Lama several years ago is coming closer to reality where intelligent machines get more spiritual and technology deeply embedded in holistic wellness and life management. This is a substantial topic and calls for separate discussion.

Let’s embrace this dawn of the new Digital Era where we can play an impactful role (‘get into the zone’, ‘collabovate’ and create some magic) to shape a more meaningful super-connected future.

Posted on August 9, 2016

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