Many market experts are forecasting wearables to take off exponentially in the next few years. Smartwatches, smart shoes, smart glasses, smart everything ? the scope is huge. And the applications are many and diverse, as attendees at a new CeBIT conference in Bonn discovered for themselves. The potential applications of these mini PCs for the body are almost limitless, ranging from medicine and logistics to intelligent clothing. Wearables are also an increasingly important part of the Internet of Things.
Wearables: then vs. now
Electronic gadgets that you can wear have been around almost as long as personal computers, with manufacturers like Casio bringing out digital watches and pocket calculators some 30 years ago. Not that there is any real comparison between the clunky electronic wrist-gear of yesteryear and today’s intelligent, networked devices. Today’s wearables can communicate with smartphones, heating systems and machines, monitor heart rates and provide access to the digital world. Among the most popular of these are smartwatches and sports wristbands that connect to apps. These human-computer interfaces are also moving into the business sphere, where they are facilitating greater process efficiency in trade and industry. In the healthcare sector, smart electronic devices are being used to collect data for health screening and long-term monitoring, thereby enabling faster and more accurate diagnostics and streamlining the management of chronic diseases and conditions. Meanwhile, in the insurance sector, the use of wearables offers major promise for the development of new, more tailored offerings.
Enormous scope for networked electronics in enterprises
On the up side, many business experts see enormous scope for the use of networked electronic devices like smart glasses and smartwatches in enterprise applications. In factories, smartwatches could be used to reduce employee workload and optimize employee safety. Hospitals could use them for real-time communication between doctors and nursing staff, and airports and hotels could use them to streamline check-in procedures. While these sorts of applications are still in their infancy at the moment, they will undergo rapid growth over the next few years.