Wearable USA 2018 at the IDTechEx Show in Santa Clara has drawn to a close and now it is time to reflect on the discussions and interactions that took place during the two-day conference and consider what those mean for the those of us working in wearables. It can be said that IdTechEx has always understood both the potential scale of the opportunities and the risks associated with the emerging technologies in the space.
It was reassuring to hear James Hayward note the growing traction in the smart patches and hearables markets – something we have been following since the days that the first Bragi device went on Kickstarter, back in 2014. Thrive is also actively working on ear-based technologies and I agree, as James noted, that this is a very compelling form factor from a user-acceptance point of view. If you want to know more, Nick Hunn has some good musings on hearables on his blog.
The Language of Wearables
Another predictable (but slightly deceptive) metric discussed was the broad decline of the instances of the vernacular of ‘wearables’ and ‘wearable technology’, after a peak in 2014. What this clearly shows is the fragmentation of this traditional umbrella term into a set of new, niche application areas. This is another welcome indication of the maturity and diversity that exists in the market. We now live in a world of a dozen clear market sectors in the wearables family.
The Best Tech
For me, the pick of the presentations came from Freer Logic, demonstrating an EEG technology that was leagues above anything I have ever seen. In addition, Geoff Alan Gray presented charismatically on the disruptive and impressive wearable technology product he has pioneered to improve the fitting process when buying new shoes, and it was great to see David Pearce presenting VCardio – notably we will be welcoming him to the Wearable Wellness Track at the GIANT Health event in London this week.
Impressive and Exceptional
On parade in the exhibition arena was a very impressive range of exhibitors and some exceptional technologies. There is much interesting development going on in the energy-harvesting space, with both passive and active systems being demonstrated. The battery technology parade was ever-present, along with many flexible and printed electronics. These areas are showing signs of considerable interest, but as with many of the technologies on show, some are extremely early stage still.
Finally, there was the normal roll call of big tech players, including Sony, Microsoft, ARM, Intel and Flex, as well as some of the established materials companies, such as DuPont and BASF. However, the philosophy of the show is around showcasing emerging technologies and the exhibition was dominated by these exciting, potentially groundbreaking businesses. Many were demonstrating very advanced offerings, and it was inspirational to be amongst them.
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