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10 key insights from a market analyst on IoT and wearables (with pets & babies)

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Photo credit:

Keoni Cabral

Ben Wood thinks a lot about wearables. He owns dozens of them. The chief of research at CSS Insight shares his thoughts.

1. We are currently in the stone age of wearables.

Most of the devices shipped today are average or worse. Virtually every product we saw in 2014 was designed by engineers thinking purely about how you get devices on people’s wrists. That’s changing. We’re seeing Guess and Oakley and other fashion brands making products that will have some appeal to the ordinary consumer. They’re not perfect, but they’re not geekware.

2. Any way you look at Apple Watch, it will be a rising tide.

However well it’s received, it will sell millions to its devotees. Apple has the knack of finding uses cases of tech that make a device come to life. The physical design is lovely. The software has clever solutions to difficult problems. The tricky bit is the apps. But Apple gave the developer community six months to come up with good ideas. And the best of those will trickle down to other devices, like Android Wear.

3. We shouldn’t lose sight of the in-built obsolescence of technology.

There are some watch brands that market their watches as heirlooms you pass on to your grandchildren. Smartwatches can never replicate that.

4. A smart watch has to be glance-able.

So you have to decide what information is most useful. I think linear content like sports news and travel information will be the first things to catch on.

Authentication is an interesting use case for wearables, with passwords so hard to remember and the need for multi-factor authentication. Wellness and payments also have obvious potential too.

5. Wearables will be complementary to phones for a long long time.

Even devices that can ‘stand alone’ are far from being ready to work by themselves.

6. I’ve used Bluetooth headsets to make calls from a smart watch.

You can also knock out a short message on a wearable. It’s quite easy. And it’s actually OK to speak into them for very short calls.

7. One of the most successful wearable devices in 2014 was actually a camera: the GoPro.

It sold 5.2m last year.

8. Google Glass has done quite a lot of damage to the category.

But there is obviously a future for eye wear in industrial vertical markets, especially with augmented reality.

9. Wearables for babies and children is very challenging.

In principle it’s a good idea, but there are health issues around cellular devices worn by kids. It might not put parents off, but the distributors may get nervous. So maybe pet wearables are a better bet.

10. The use of sensors in wearables could let us track things like physical attraction.

These devices will gather new types of data we haven’t ever collected before.


* This article was first published in the Gemalto Netsize Guide 2015 – a free eBook comprising articles and stats on connected tech, wearables and the IoT. Download it here.

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