For the most part, wearable technology today remains a “nascent” market. “There’s a lot to be done,” says Martin, “but a lot is happening.”
In its current form, wearable technology connotes consumer products such as fitness and activity trackers, smart watches and headset devices. For all the media attention it’s getting, the market is far from the point where everybody sports a wearable device. “There are a lot of challenges to be overcome,” says Martin, “but it’s interesting how quickly everything is evolving.”
Wearable technology could be said to link up with the Internet of Things, if only tangentially. The latter concept involves machines and devices communicating with one another without human intervention, utilizing unique IP addresses. IoT represents a broader vision of wearable devices, with the promise of linking up with information hubs and transmitting data in both directions. But it, too, has a ways to go before becoming a reality, says Martin. IoT entails a higher degree of automation and contextual understanding, which remain in their relative infancy.
Up to now, wearables have largely been focused on the consumer market. But they also contain significant potential in the commercial and industrial arena, where technology such as voice-directed picking is already in common use. For consumers, wearables bolster the concept of a “quantified self,” says Martin. “In industry they’re not just an accessory, they’re a tool and an asset.” The increasing use of wearables in business environments promises to increase productivity dramatically.
Ultimately, says Martin, it’s enterprise technology that will drive further developments in wearable devices in the consumer market. The greatest value in a consumer setting will likely be in supporting such activities as payment authentication, and vehicle and home security. At the enterprise level, he says, “there are those opportunities, and more.”
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