Sania Sania

What’s next for wrist wearables in 2017?

After spending couple of years on the market, smartwatches and fitness bands seem to have lost their consumer traction, especially since the mobile industry is focusing more on other innovative technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality and alternative futuristic wearables like smart contact lenses.

However don’t count out wearables just yet. Industry experts recently reported that the smartwatch market is expected to be worth $32.9 billion by 2020, according to Allied Market Research.

So, what can we expect from wrist wearables this year? Read on below to find out.

In-depth health data

At present, most smartwatches and fitness bands are able to offer basic health tracking data to users from their heart rate to their sleep patterns and stress levels. But, compared to smartphones with their built-in sensors and health tracking apps, wrist wearables are said to be lagging behind somewhat. A study featured by The Guardian revealed that fitness bands are “less accurate than smartphones” in measuring steps.

However, the next wave of wrist wearables are expected to address this issue and offer more in-depth health data to users. By 2020, it is forecasted that smartwatches will offer more personal health data, according to an infographic featured by HIT Consultant, including the ability to measure blood oxygen levels, blood flow and any signs of illness/disease using non-invasive technologies.

In 2015, Google was reportedly working on a secret smartwatch that was “more about health than [focused on] notifications”. The device packs more sensors and tracking features than the wearables currently on the market and is designed specifically for clinical trials and drug tests. It comes with advance tracking sensors than can react to light exposure, skin temperature, noise levels and more. Though there is currently no update yet on when this device will be revealed but rumours suggest it will be ready by the end of 2017.

More games

The gaming industry will further embrace wearable technology and change the future of gaming, especially with the rise in adoption of virtual reality head-mounted displays for gaming. Aside from VR headsets, smartwatches will also become popular as a new platform for consuming casual games.

Various game developers have shown an interest in creating games for smartwatches. One of which is Teensy Studios, an indie mobile game studio that builds games for different platforms – Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Apple Watch and Android Wear. Recently, the company expanded its wearable gaming portfolio by releasing three new free-to-play titles for smartwatch gamers. The company currently has 26 smartwatch games and plans to expand further in the coming years.

Likewise, the online game developer Gaming Realms has announced that it’s looking at expanding its popular titles, including the higher-margin owned IP Slingo, to other gaming platforms. The company is looking at other potential platforms that they can use to tap into the large global market of casual online gamers (approximately 12 million) such as the wearable market, which in turn they hope will increase revenues.

As more game developers create games for wrist wearables, it is likely that the gaming industry will soon be headed-up by titles for smartwatches.

Standalone and tether-free

Although mobile manufacturers continue to produce wearables that need to be tethered to a smartphone or another computing device, this is expected to change in 2017 as the best high-tech and standalone smartwatches are unveiled.

Samsung released their Gear S in 2014, a standalone smartwatch with 3G connectivity and Wi-Fi chip to run its own content. While it didn’t perform particularly well in terms of sales, it was a revolutionary time-viewing piece as other wearables weren’t able to offer the same feature. They are now offering the Gear S2 that is compatible with the latest Android OS and offers 4G mobile internet connectivity via its own SIM card slot.

Apple is now looking at producing its own standalone smartwatch that won’t need to be tethered to an iPhone. The hope is from Apple’s perspective that this will allow them to lead the standalone wrist wearable market in the same way they have the mobile arena.