‘Wearable Technology’ is the Next Battlefield


The world of technology is stepping to the next genre of innovations and there’s a next grade of battle that is going to happen. It’s the region of smart devices beyond smart phones and computers, which is about wearable devices that can also be called as smart gears. It’s a region that aims at penetrating and empowering smartness with high technology in the lifestyle of consumers. Initiated and strongly pushed by Google’s first smart wearable ‘Glass’, the segment of wearable technology has now turned the next focus point of tech giants, who have started their preparation for soon to participate.

According to recent IDC reports, there will be a global rise up to 19 million units of sale of wearable devices this year. This will grow to 111.9 million by 2018. At present, the wearable device sector is ruled by fitness trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone UP devices. This increased buzz is influencing various vendors for announcing their participation in this region, according to IDC.

According to American chipmaker Broadcom, India has huge potential for wearable technologies. It combines wearable like clothing or accessories embedding advanced electronic technologies, which can track things like fitness levels of the user. The market research firm ABI is expecting about 90 million shipping of wearable devices this year in India that will rise from 53.90 million in 2013. It predicts that Indian wearable market will cross $6 billion by the year 2018. However, at present, this market is at a very young age with only a handful of products from brands like Samsung and Sony.

As participating in next-gen innovations, the global smartphone leader Samsung has released a digital health technology that examines various body functions, including heart rate and blood pressure with the help of sensors. This innovative platform ‘Simband’ is yet not attached to any commercial products. However, Samsung notified that it can work along with a wristband. This Samsung device was showcased tracking measurements of heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure, and also collecting data from various sources at the launch. This technology will help people keep a watch over their health. Simband will work in tandem supported by a cloud-based open software platform SAMI, which stores data securely and offer better heath insights.

“The blend of Simband sensor technology with algorithm and SAMI software will help users understand their body at a better level,” said Samsung. This new technology is an initiative by Samsung in collaboration with university researchers to use digital technology in improvising health care.

In the land of wearable devices, Microsoft is another participant which is planning to begin with a smartwatch, according to recent reports. The US based technology giant is tapping into talent of its gesture sensing Kinect accessory of Xbox video game for the development of sensor-loaded smartwatch. The Microsoft smartwatch features would also include fitness capabilities like measuring and analysing heart rate. Plus, as this segment of wearable computing devices is constantly growing, Microsoft will develop a device that will wirelessly synch with apps in smartphones.

Samsung will be introducing its first Android empowered wearable device at Google I/O to be held on 25th June’2014. The upcoming Samsung’s wearable is reportedly similar to its smart watch which was released earlier this year. Samsung has also been working on a smart watch empowered by its own Samsung chip and another empowered by Qualcomm processor, based on Android OS. However, it is not clear yet that the upcoming wearable will be one of these, both of these or none of these. The latest Samsung’s smart watch runs on Tizen, a Linux-based OS developed within the collaboration of Samsung and Intel. The company would also replace its Android OS with Tizen in its Galaxy Gear, the company’s first smart watch.

The other reported participants at Google I/O in the Android wearable region are LG and Motorola. These companies have been testing their devices. LG G smart watch has square share within stealth black and champagne gold colors that will compliment company’s forthcoming LG G3 phone. Motorola’s gear Moto 360 has more fashionable circular appearance that will flaunt its wireless inductive charging feature and about $249 price.

Above and beyond this, Google is planning to unveil a software development kit (SDK) for wearable technology in the coming weeks. The senior vice president of product management at Google, Sundar Pichai shared the update at SXSW conference. SDK is aimed at helping third parties to easily develop wearable devices, like computerized eyeglasses, smart bracelets, and smart watches, based on Android platform. According to Pichai, Google is seeing a strong connection in between the ecosystems of wearable devices and smartphones.

“We want to build a set of common protocols, with which they can work efficiently together,” said Pichai.“They require a mesh layer and a data layer with which they can come together as wearables, we are thinking much more broadly,” Pichai added.

Google is already participating in the wearable computer category with its latest Glass project. Last year, Google started selling prototypes of the computerized eye glasses to almost 8000 early adopters and developers. Glass will enable users to take photos and make videos, and directly share them on Facebook and Twitter. It is expected to be released this year. Plus, it can also be used to read and send emails, and also scan the news and see maps. Google is also expected to unveil its smartwatch at its annual Google I/O developer conference at San Francisco in June.

Apart this, Intel has plans to enter wearable region, but not to complete with the makers of wearable devices. Instead, the giant tech enterprise is aiming at supporting the players of this region. Intel is seeing tremendous market opportunity in wearable segment and is building a New Device Group.

“It will also recognize what Intel can offer in this region in term of unique technologies, IP and unique silicon. We’re highly motivated to be the catalyst of this market,” said Tom Foldesi, senior director of New Device Group of Intel. “We have taken on our board anthropologists, extreme athletes, behavioural scientists and people with experience in military special operations,” said Foldesi. Intel believes that the lifestyle brands will drive the growth of this region further to some extends.

“How we consume data will transform significantly with wearables,” he added. “We’ve been known as technology enabler. Our strategy combines developing ground breaking reference designs and make them available for our customers,” added Foldesi. However, Intel won’t release products directly into the market.