Analyst firm IDTechEX predicts that the wearable tech market would reach $39 billion by the end of 2016 and $150 billion by 2026. CSI Insight reports that a total of 411 million wearable devices valued at $34 billion would be sold in 2020. MarketsandMarkets also predicts that the wearable technology by 2020, would grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.8%. Today, fitness tracker devices alone are worth $700 million and hold 61% of total wearable devices. Looking at these numbers, it is evident that the wearable technology is making inroads into our lives.
The cloud computing revolution has brought a variety of devices into the network. Developers are now using innovative techniques such as responsive design to ensure the user experience is constant across all devices. However, wearable technology poses different challenges and demand extra caution and consideration. These are a few factors to consider.
Wearable devices come with smaller screens and in different shapes and sizes in comparison to regular mobiles and tablets. Designing the right interface for these devices presents a challenge. The interface should be quick and easy to navigate and contain minimal elements. There is no space for flashy icons or detailed navigation. App developers should adapt an alternate approach to ensure that a consistent user experience is delivered across all devices without losing focus on ease of use and mobility which are the key functionalities of a wearable device.
As wearable devices come with smaller sizes and limited functionality, they are normally tethered to larger devices. It means these devices always depend on the larger devices they are tethered to for accessing the full functionality of the application. When the battery of the larger device drains out, the tethered devices lose the connectivity. Wearable devices that are connected through blue tooth should always operate within that blue tooth range.
In addition to smaller screens and limited functionality, wearable devices have a lower battery life. In fact, the limited battery life is the biggest pain point in the wearables right now. With this limit, developers may be tempted to design slow apps, unattractive designs or non-critical software. For instance, Q Dreamer activity tracker comes with five days of battery life and Under Armour fitness tracker also gets five days of battery life. Fitbit claims that the fitness wrist watch Blaze would run for 5 days without charging it. However, the fact is that it doesn’t run GPS and other apps to compensate the battery life. With all the functionality of the device, the battery would only last for one day. However, the technology in processors and sensors are constantly innovating to enable them to consume less power and deliver more functionality.
The successful adoption of a wearable device depends on its cross-platform capability. The more devices and platforms it supports, the higher its success rate. Designing apps for a specific device or platform will be less successful. A notable example is Google Glass. The developers weren’t clear if the device should be worn all through the day or if it is to be used for specific tasks. In addition to its low battery life and unattractive design, the tool didn’t provide any useful information for its users. Obviously, apps that work with multiple devices are sure to stay in the longer run. Moreover, the rapid advancement in technology brings new devices and technologies into the picture. Apps should not only be cross-platform enabled but they should also be easily updated and pushed into new platforms and devices.
When a wearable device becomes a part of a network, it means data is shared with that device most of the time. With limited functionality, these devices lack the ability to setup opt-in privacy settings. App developers should take extra care to ensure that the app only accesses required data and securely processes it. Appropriate security measures that are specific to wearable devices should be applied.
While developing apps for wearable devices is a challenge, it can prove to be rewarding and lucrative. With changing platforms and tools, developers need to proactively align their strategies to meet changing demands which means that ease-of-use and adaptability are the keys.