Wearables and smart glasses in the next 12 months
Our predictions for wearable and smart technology in 2016, and their place in business.
Epson’s predictions: wearables and smart glasses
Many wearable devices to date have failed to live up to expectations – Google Glass and the Apple Watch in particular left many consumers wanting more. Valerie Riffaud-Cangelosi, New Markets Development Manager at Epson believes that in 2016 we will see new applications for wearables reviving demand for the technology. However, most innovation and growth will be in the business market. Here’s what we can expect in the coming year:
The smart glass revival has work to do
Google is likely to try build on valuable lessons learnt from its first venture into the smart glasses market with Google Glass. Given its success with its ‘Glass at Work’ programme, the company should consider carefully the target audience of its next wearables project in order to satisfy expectant tech fans.
Microsoft HoloLens, smart glasses that deliver augmented reality via holograms, is a great proposition. It is likely that its shortfalls – battery life and weight – will be addressed during the year with a comeback that will see it produced and adopted on a larger scale.
We can expect competition to be acute in 2016. Wearable technology vendors will vie to create innovative products that offer ground breaking and exciting benefits to the end user. The question is, will concepts deliver on customer expectation?
Wearables at work – from professional to industrial
The real short term opportunity for wearables – away from the fitness trackers and health gadgets already saturating the consumer market – lies with businesses.
An increasing number of firms in the professional services and industrial sectors will look to wearable technologies to enhance efficiency and streamline processes.
A wide variety of sectors – from health and logistics, to arts and entertainment and manufacturing – are already harnessing the power of augmented reality glasses. They are being used to provide a more interactive customer service, to train staff and to improve patients’ quality of treatment and care.
As more applications for wearables are unearthed, we expect to see more businesses showcase exciting uses for them in industry next year. This is where the technology can have real, life-changing impact.
Software developers drive use cases for wearables
To date, most of the augmented reality smart glasses brought to market have been created to deliver a wide number of applications for the user, with a non-specific purpose. Google Glass, for example, is an open Android product designed to deliver a number of third party applications, such as Evernote, Facebook and Twitter, based on the user’s personal preferences. So far, hardware manufacturers have dictated how wearables will develop but now independent software developers (ISVs) will take the lead in determining the future of augmented reality wearables. It’s no happy coincidence that the power to define the future of wearable technology has shifted into their hands. ISVs have a unique insight into what the next phase of wearables should be. Their close relationship with businesses gives them a deep understanding of what companies want the technology to achieve.
As with all cutting edge technology, trial and error will shape the future. ISVs, businesses, and manufacturers of wearables will work together to develop new applications for the workplace. It is this collaboration, informed by the requirements and the experience of the end user, that will shape the future development of wearable technology.
Wearables will not replace other devices, but will become a new tool in the digital arsenal
Just as the tablet was compatible with the smartphone, so wearables will become a complementary, not replacement technology for both consumer and business users. Tablets, smartphones, desktop PCs and smart watches all have their place. They are used for different purposes and at different times of the day. As the adoption of wearables like smart glasses gains pace, we’ll see users carving out specific tasks and needs for them. Wearables will be employed in tandem with existing technologies to extend the multichannel, multi screening trend that epitomises the digital world today.
IoT and smart glasses come together to streamline business processes
The Internet of Things (IoT) will enable machines to talk to one another and work smarter. It will also help to drive greater and more thoughtful interactions between humans and machines. When the intelligence generated by IoT systems and networks is integrated with wearables that support augmented reality, the technology has the potential to create a workforce of ‘smart humans’. It will enable people to solve problems and to simplify jobs by using real-time information on the go.
The IoT will come into its own in the coming months. It is being adopted by a huge number of industries, such as manufacturing and healthcare – and smart glasses are poised to be at the centre of this industry development.
Introducing the concept of human beings as an element in a system of machines is psychologically challenging as well as logistically tricky. However, smart glasses allow humans to ‘plug in’ to an IoT network, hands-free. The nature of augmented reality also means they are still able to interact with the world around them but with an added digital layer to make them ‘smarter’. The advantages are obvious and as the ever faster march of technology has already demonstrated, when innovation assists them, people are remarkably adaptable. It is therefore predictable that more and more businesses will put smart glasses at the core of IoT systems, to streamline their back end operations and to make workers more productive.
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