PORTABLE TECHNOLOGY: LATEST TRENDS OF 2021
HOW WILL THE WEARABLES INDUSTRY PROGRESS OVER THE NEXT YEAR?
No matter where you look, no matter which sector you analyze, there is one conditioning factor that is a turning point: the COVID-19 pandemic. Leaving a year full of uncertainty behind, the only certainty is that the health crisis has marked 2020 and transformed the society in a matter of months.
Although the coronavirus has wreaked serious socioeconomic havoc, it has not affected all sectors in the same way. The technology industry is one of the main collateral beneficiaries because the use of technological devices has increased. It has become a great ally of social distancing and prevention.
“Major disruptions — whether it be a pandemic, an unstable economy or the shifting of a major industry — always reveal opportunities for technology to advance society forward.” GARTNER REPORT
As technology analysts say, COVID-19 will one day end, but the socio-technological transformation will remain because we have learned to do things more efficiently and safely. Under the umbrella of an ever-changing society and a still present pandemic with many questions to be resolved, we analyze the latest trends in wearable technology in 2021.
According to the latest report from Gartner, a research and consulting company in the new technologies market, consumer expenses will double over the next year in this industry. Specifically, total spending on wearables will grow from $32.5 billion in 2018 to $63 billion in 2021.
In an increasingly digitized society, knowledge about our health condition and its maintenance is the trend for the coming year. Alliances with the textile and entertainment sectors are also being strengthened. In short, wearable technology will continue its unstoppable growth trend in 2021.
THE STAR OF THE GAME
The two-star sectors for wearable devices are without a doubt the areas of health and sports. Another side benefit of the pandemic is that people have become more concerned about their physical health condition. As Industry Wired magazine reports:
For an industry that has started to mature in the last 10 years, COVID-19 was just a little fuel to stoke the fires of a fastly growing market, on track to surpass $ 1.5 million in 2023.
Smartwatches and smart bracelets are still the star products in workout monitoring. Over the next year we will be able to enjoy two major launches: the Xiaomi Mi Watch Color Sports Edition, the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini and the Alpina X Alive smartwatch.
The first one, launched in China in November 2020, will reach the global market during 2021 with the latest innovations in the industry such as the packaged sensor tracking heart rate and blood oxygen levels; as well as a customized operating system based on Wear OS.
On the other hand, the Amazfit GTS 2 Mini is a more affordable version of its predecessor, with a smaller case and display. This wearable has a PPG sensor that also allows heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring.
And finally, the Alpina X Alive smartwatch features all the functions of a wearable device in a beautiful design based on the classic Swiss watch. In addition, it features advanced sports functions such as sleep tracking and breathing reminders during training, as well as the GPS function and the Philips heart rate sensor.
FROM HEALTH TO E-HEALTH
“the vision of the global strategy is to improve health for everyone, everywhere by accelerating the development and adoption of appropriate, affordable, scalable and sustainable digital health solutions.”
The last few years have left us with countless technological solutions for the wide diversity of health problems; from smart canes for blind people, psychological therapies with virtual reality, smart rings, heart monitors, socks, jackets and swimsuits, earplugs, breast pumps, tattoos and the latest in the fight against COVID-19, smart masks and devices to respect social distancing.
According to the study “Predictions 2021: Technology Diversity Drives IoT Growth”, carried out by the North American company that studies the impact of technology on the Forrester market, a strong boost in the adoption of portable devices and sensors that help patients to track diseases is expected.
In this sense, at the cuting edge in monitoring devices on the health field is Apple, which will soon launch the Apple Watch Series 6; which will have a built-in oxygen monitor to detect fast and shallow breathing antecedent to anxiety or panic attacks.
Likewise, the big bet in wearable technology heading into 2021 is stress monitoring. According to Well and Good magazine, next year “a growing number of wearables will be tracking stress and helping us do something about it—a development that couldn’t be more timely.” On that basis, the trend is made for monitoring stress levels and creating score ranges that will provide access to specific advice for healthy management. Scientist Conor Heneghan, principal researcher at Fitbit says “if the wearable picks up on sweat-triggered stress markers, wearers may be prompted to do an audio-guided meditation through the FitBit app as a way to help the body relax.” Similarly, Samsung Health has partnered with the Calm meditation app to help smartphone users lower their stress scores. Many other smartwatch brands, such as Garmin with the Fenix 5 and Forerunner prompt users to do a breathwork exercise when they detect high stress levels. Like this begins a new race to offer the best services in stress management. For the moment, Fitbit’s forthcoming release, the Fitbit Sense will be the first wearable to track stress through electrodermal activity, or how well skin conducts electricity, through sensors on the rim that pick up on moisture triggered by stress.
Clothes are the new technological way, as its portable nature makes the world of textiles the ideal medium for developing all kinds of technological innovations. According to a study conducted by the company Cision, smart clothing has become a market that is expected to reach $5.3 billion by 2024.
Among the latest trends in 2021 we find the improvement of garments used during workouts such as the Nadi X Yoga pants, which detect when it is necessary to perfect a yoga posture through the use of technology. For that, they use integrated sensors and haptic feedback vibration to help you improve your yoga. Also, through the Nadi X iOS app, it offers instructions on how to optimize each pose.
Also, along the same lines, Sensoria Fitness socks offer information on the user’s stride when walking and performing physical activity, thanks to the textile sensors integrated in the sole and the ankle brace; through the app the user can access tips on how to improve his technique.
Beyond the field of sports, the wearables sector and the fashion world are joining forces to offer products that are visually more attractive, as in the case of the Bellabet Leaf Urban, a wearable device for monitoring activity and sleep that can be worn as a pendant, bracelet or clip.
Wearable technology is also opening up to new, more specific sectors such as the world of luxury and haute couture. The U.S. company Michael Kors has been one of the first in this field to incorporate technology in some of its garments, such as the Michael Kors Access bracelet, which allows selfies, presentations and listening to music remotely. Or the case of Louis Vuitton with its Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon watch, which in addition to having the usual features of smartwatches, works as a link to access to exclusive brand content.
A MORE TECHNOLOGICAL DAILY LIFE, AN EASIER DAILY LIFE
The numbers don’t lie; wearable devices are becoming more and more prevalent in our daily lives. According to Forrester,
“at least 80% of firms to develop comprehensive on-premises return-to-work office strategies that include IoT applications to enhance employee safety and improve resource efficiencies such as smart lighting, energy, and environmental monitoring, or sensor-enabled space utilization and activity monitoring in high traffic areas.”
Portable technology is playing an increasingly important role in the incorporation of health and safety guidelines. According to Gartner’s report on technology trends for 2021, there will be a boost in the development of sensors and RFID tags to determine whether employees were washing their hands regularly.
On the other hand, technology companies are betting on augmented reality viewers as a substitute for smartphones, and although there is still a long way to go, next year we will be a little closer to some of the products that will change the way we relate to technology; such as Apple’s augmented reality viewer, scheduled for launch in 2022 and intended to replace the smartphone.
A NEW FORM OF ENTERTAINMENT
The video game sector will undoubtedly be another of the big stars of 2021. According to a finding by one of the world’s leading consulting companies, “during the crisis, a third of consumers have, for the first time, subscribed to a video gaming service, used a cloud gaming service, or watched esports or a virtual sporting event”. In addition, in previous years, Deloitte had found that “a quarter of consumers rank playing video games as one of their three favorite entertainment activities.”
The development of virtual reality and augmented reality in the world of leisure and entertainment remains the bet for the future; the health crisis and months of confinement have only strengthened the potential of this sector. From smart gaming devices, remote competitions and leaderboards, the entertainment industry will continue to offer exciting innovations in the coming year. Artificial intelligence will play a key role in this regard.