The World of Wearable Tech

In one of last week’s blogs, we mentioned how much Millennials love gadgets, including wearable technology–otherwise known as “wearable tech” or “wearables,” if you will. Although we should thank Gen Y for the popularity surge of wearables, older generations are catching on and investing in these techy timepieces, too: seems as though EVERYONE is on board with the trend these days. In fact, 36 million smartwatches are expected to be sold by then end of 2015, according to a recent article in The Guardian. Analysts predict that the global wearables market will reach 19 billion in US currency by 2018. Although 2014 was dubbed “The Year of the Wearable,” 2015 was projected to become the year that made these devices “sexy” or “grown up.” We’re not sure about that, but we’re definitely seeing broader, more useful tech developments. Wearable tech can move beyond its ‘cool watch’ phase and evolve into a bigger, brighter component of the Internet of Things phenomenon we predicted in our 2015 Travel Trends SlideShare.

The greatly hyped but largely unsuccessful Google Glass emerged on the market in 2014, but thrifty consumers weren’t willing to fork over 1.5K to get it. Customers started drooling over the Google Glass concept as early as 2012, but they slowly lost interest when profits dwindled and Google invested less in promoting the product. Although a commercial disappointment, Glass first piqued consumer interest and later catalyzed higher sales totals for later generations of wearables, most notably the Apple Watch. Right now, about 1/6 consumers use some kind of wearable tech in their daily life, according to CMO research.

Released in September of last year, the Apple Watch kickstarted growth in the smartwatch market when it was finally available in stores this year. According to a June Time Magazine piece, Apple has sold nearly 3 million of these beauties since its release (figures are estimates). The most accessible price point comes in at $349 for the Apple Watch Sport. At the higher end, the Apple Watch Edition boasts a 18-carat gold case and costs–are you ready for this?–$17,000. Look at this beautiful creation here on Apple’s website if you’re curious about what such a pricey piece looks like.

But smart tech expanded way beyond the wrist, as we’ve witnessed in the development of smart clothing. Smart clothes have been used for tasks like monitoring heart rate, charging phones, and even locating lost children. One of the most famous pieces of high-tech fashion comes from designer Ralph Lauren. The PoloTech tracks distance, calories burned, heart rate, stress rate, and more, sending the info straight to your smartphone. Tech innovations could solve problems for the medical industry, too: CancerDetectingClothing is working on smart clothes that spot cancer in the human body. Another development involves a small chip that looks like a temporary tattoo to monitor hospital patients. Instead of uncomfortable EKG tests, doctors of the future will gather information from a data cloud based on input from these tiny tattoos.

Technology’s new focus? Now that we have some cool gadgets on the market to work with, tech innovators are now focusing on the next “killer app.” Although the name sounds dangerous, it means something largely beneficial: a killer app, according to Wikipedia, is “any computer program that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of some larger technology.” Basically, it’s an app that will make life so much easier, and once you have it…you won’t know how you ever lived without it. Stay tuned for a follow up piece about what these exciting inventions can do for your travel!

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