The Advent of Wearable Technology

  Feb 27, 2014 5:48:21 AM

Seen someone wearing a watch that says a lot beyond just showing time? Seen someone with a pair of glass, but not for reading?  With technology advancements, these won’t be an unusual sight. Welcome to the world of Wearable Technology.

Wearable technology is category of devices or accessories incorporating advanced electronic technologies that can be worn by a consumer. Its objective is to provide essential, customized information with much more ease as compared to a Smartphone.

Many of these devices are purpose-built products and so the kind of information they give is customized. Nike Fuel Band is an activity tracker that gives fitness information like calories burnt, daily goal progress, etc. A smartwatch (Sony’s SmartWatch, Samsung Galaxy Gear) can give you text messages, social media updates, etc. There are devices with built-in GPS (Trailblazer, No Place Like Home – shoes) that aid in navigation. However there are devices like Google Glass that serve multiple purposes.

The underlying software system again varies with each device ranging from Android (Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear) to iOS (Nike+ Fuel Band) to Free RTOS (Pebble watch). While compatibility across connecting mobile devices’ OS is still a concern, some of the device makers like Pebble smart watch made sure it can communicate with both Android & iOS apps.

Each of these devices makes use of well established wireless communication technologies (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, sensors or a combination) to retrieve necessary information.

Wearable tech is good, but what about privacy?

These devices collect a lot of personal information and so an apparent concern of privacy. Some of fitness apps may collect health related sensitive data and possibly biometric data as well. A wearable device with camera makes it easy for someone to take picture of surroundings including people or even scan a document and share it in no time. For a corporate this is a clear concern on legal/IP aspects.

Addressing them is little tricky since each country may have their own laws w.r.t. collecting and processing of private and sensitive data.

The Future

Today they are used just to see or take information. In future they could be used to control the devices around us. Ask Dr. Sabine Seymour about the future of wearable technology, she says “It’s all about creating the superhuman”. Well that doesn’t seem an overstatement and the days of seeing a real life Tony Stark of Iron Man fame isn’t too far.

Industry leading semiconductor vendors are betting big and have lined-up several offerings in this space. Qualcomm released Toq smartwatch to showcase their home grown technologies. Intel showcased quite a few wearable concept designs based on their Quark processor at CES 2014. Broadcom announced WICED smart chip and SDK targeting wearable tech devices.

Sasken has already jumped into wearable tech bandwagon and is working with partners to realize some cool new features.

Authored by Raghavendra Rayadurga

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