Wearable IoT for All Industries

Applications

Wearable IoT Advantages

Wearable technology has a couple of advantages in store for the average consumer and businesses. Some of these advantages include:

Fitness improvement

For people who want to commit to their fitness goals, wearable technology could empower them. Fitness wearables like smartwatches allow the average consumer to track their workout sessions, from the number of calories lost to the number of steps taken.

Promote safety and security

Some manufacturing sites tend to have danger zones that could result in injury. Employees and visitors can wear IoT devices that constantly broadcast their location, reducing the chances of accidents occurring. Other devices like exoskeletons can be used to protect the employee from injury while improving efficiency in the workplace. With SOS button,emergency help can also be provided.

Automation and digitization

With IoT technology,many tasks can be complemented automatically and digital can be updated in real time,which decreased the cost of labour force.

Convenience

Wearable devices promote convenience in a number of ways. For instance, they empower telemedicine and real time-location making it easier for patients to enjoy top-quality healthcare with freedom.

How Does Wearable IoT Work?

IoT and wearables are a perfect mix that cooks up to be a harmonious blend of form and function. They bring together the functionality of bulky hand-held gadgets like computers and other mobile devices into smart wearable IoT gear in the form of microchips, smartwatches, and many more. Typically, all wearable devices in IoT have microcontrollers that help them function effectively. Wearable IoTs have are based on 3 layers which dictate how they work. They include;

Layer 1: Comprises of sensors that are strategically placed in proximity to the user’s body. Their work is to monitor the movement, change in temperature, pulse, and other elements according to their make.

Layer 2: This layer harbors control and connectivity operations. The most common technology employed here is the BLE protocol. Bluetooth Low Energy connects the IoT wearable IoT devices to mobile devices like tablets or a home network.

Layer 3: Comprised of a cloud database where wearable IoT devices send and read data.

What is Wearable IoT

Wearable IoT technology is categorized under electronic devices used as accessories, tattooed on someone’s skin, fixed on clothing, or even implanted in your body. These gadgets have been highly adopted and integrated into most people’s day-to-day life; no wonder it’s at the spearhead of the Internet of Things. Since IoT wearable technology was invented in the 1960s by Professor Edward Thorp, there has been no turning back in propelling the technology forward. These hand-free devices can do anything a smartphone can do, including making calls as well as what most computers can do. In some cases, Internet of Things wearables can outperform mobile devices and computers. Wearable IoTs are not limited to devices that can be put on and taken off only. There are both non-invasive, like wearable beacons, smartwatches and glasses, and invasive ones like smart tattoos and microchips. Read on to learn more about wearable electronics in IoT.

Types of Wearable Technology for Different Applications

The applications of wearable technology are far-reaching, and it has been used in sectors like health, education, transportation, gaming, finance, aging, fitness, and many more. Below are common applications of IoT wearable technology.

Wearable beacon: Wearable beacon technology can be seen in a badgets, helmet or wristband for location monitoring,smart check-in and so on.

Watch-like wearable gadgets: These are best used with wireless transmitters, displays, and sensors. Users need to wear them on the wrist. They can be used to record location, step counts, running speed, breathing rate, heart rate, muscle tension, among many other roles. However, they are not entirely reliable since they can be inaccurate.

Smart Clothing Wearables: Since they are naturally adjacent to the user’s skin, they can monitor and measure the heart rate, muscle tension, breathing rate and send the data to a smart device like a mobile phone to determine the user’s health and wellness status.

Smart Tattoos: This is a form of an invasive wearable where the tattoo is somehow ‘alive.’ For example, there’s a new smart tattoo ink that changes color when the user is dehydrated or when the blood sugar level lowers or rises. Another example is the sticker- MC10’s BioStamp Research Connect, which is inserted in the user’s skin to provide data for medical research.

Virtual Reality gadgets: They are mostly used in gaming to capture users’ attention and give them a new immersive experience. Users exit the realities of everyday life and indulge in exciting brand-new worlds where they can do anything and be anyone they want. In other cases, the tourism sector employs wearable virtual reality gadgets like the teleporter. It’s meant to take tourists on virtual visits, which they feel like they are on the real sites. The capabilities are unlimited since users can feel even the wind, rain, or even the sun on their skins.

Smart Jewelry: Smart jewelry blends fashion and technology. For those who want to look fashionable and still enjoy the benefits tech can offer, you can choose from various smart jewelry out there. Their role is similar to those of other wearables since they are close to the skin and body trunk. They can monitor and record users’ medical data and send it to a database. They include a gemstone pendant, Fitbit Flex 2, Misfit Shine (with Bloom Necklace), etc.

How Can Wearable IoT Affect Your Privacy?

Everything comes with advantages and disadvantages. Among the demerits of smart wearables is the compromisation of users’ privacy.

Here are some of the privacy challenges IoT wearable technology is facing:
• Your Location is exposed
If you’re using a smart wearable device to track your runs, it’s using geological sensors to record your favorite routes and store them in a cloud data management system. Hackers can tap into the data management system to determine our favorite routes, which might lead to stalking or even kidnapping.
• They lack anti-malware software
IoT wearables lack the software to prevent them from being infected by malware, mostly from hackers. This makes their defense system wanting and vulnerable. Hackers can tap into your wearable and access your personal data illegally.
• Private data can be shared illegally
User data is collected by wearables and stored in a personal cloud. However, the cloud admin can decide to sell the data or exchange it with third-party companies for adverts or something. Similarly, hackers can access your data without much hassle.
• They lack a multiple-factor authentication protocol
Wearables that lack smartwatches don’t require you to have a pin in order to access them. This means that anyone can access your data or even more.

Protect Your Privacy While Using Wearable IoT Devices

While using wearable devices, your privacy is usually at stake. Since your private matters a lot for you, you ought to take the following measures to prevent your private data from landing in unwanted hands.

1. Check privacy settings in the entire wearable ecosystem
When it comes to privacy settings, the entire ecosystem of wearables is involved. The wearable itself, the phone, the app linked to the wearable, and the web portal have privacy settings that require your attention. Heck them and regulate where possible.
2. Be on guard for your personal data
Don’t get tired of regularly updating yourself with the upcoming privacy policies for your wearables. If you get even the slightest doubt, confirm with the company to ensure you’re kept in the loop. Make sure you prevent any possible selling of your data for your safety.
3. Don’t just accept default settings
Don’t just accept the default privacy settings without reading them through and through. Ensure you comprehend how your data is used, and you’re comfortable with it before accepting.

Where Did it All Start?

Here’s the brief history of wearable technology:

1977- The first wearable device branded as a calculator wristband was brought into the market.
1979- Walkman was introduced, which provided portable music.
1983- Seiko DATA-200, a smartwatch with a removable QWERTY keyboard, was brought into the market.
1987- The first electronic hearing aid device, Nicolet Digital Hearing aid, was brought to light.
1994- Timex Datalink was released. This was the first wireless Smartwatch.
1998- An advanced version of Timex Datalink called Smartwatch was released. It was operating using Linux OS.
1999- Ericsson Bluetooth Headset was released. It was the first consumer Bluetooth gadget.
2001- Apple released iPod followed by iTunes.
2004- GoPro, a wearable portable camera, was introduced.
2009- FitBit, an activity tracker, was brought into the market.
2013- Omate Truesmart, the first Smartwatch that could make calls, navigate and use mobile apps, was introduced.
2013- Google released Google glass which has an optimal head display and a small camera.
2015- Apple Watch was released meant to work together with iPhone.
2016- Oculus brought into the market their first VR headset.

Wearable Devices Turning Tables in Healthcare

Among the sectors that have greatly benefited from wearable IoT devices is healthcare. It has enabled remote monitoring, telemedicine, and better disease prevention and management. Doctors can offer their patients these devices to track their progress. They can be attached to wrists, necks, helmet, clothes, earrings, shoes, or even under the skin in some cases.

While some people use them to track their fitness, others depend on them to survive. Some examples of wearable devices in the latter case include pacemakers, which help patients control their heartbeat. With new technologies like 5G and Bluetooth 5.0 gaining prevalence, the future of wearable IoT in the medical industry is quite bright. In essence, the Internet of Things wearables makes delivering medical services more affordable and error-free while improving disease management and offering great patient experiences.  

How Healthcare Providers Use the Data

Once recorded, the data from wearable IoT devices can be quite useful in the medical field. For instance, a patient at a high-risk class of heart disease might need to have their blood pressure and heart rate data transferred to the doctor. The physician can use this data to monitor their health. 

In case of any anomalies, they can suggest preventive measures to steer away from adverse medical conditions. Using wearables also reduces the number of clinical visits. With the sensors recording your vital signs, there is no need to book an appointment regularly. However, all this data would be useless without health informatics, which helps in the storage and analysis of the data for actionable insights.

The Smart Wearable Global Market 

Smart wearable gadgets have been gaining traction all over the world. While the market was worth $2 billion in 2019, it jumped to $16.12 billion in 2020, a CAGR of 22.37%. COVID-19 was among the biggest drivers for this growth within this period, as there was the need to use the devices to contain the virus and offer medical services.

The continent with the largest rate of adoption for IoT wearables is North America. On the flip side, the continent that has a fast-growing adoption rate is Asia. Part of the reason behind this increasing adoption is the desire of consumers to be in control of their health, the increasing convenience of using the devices, and the entry of large market players into the wearable industry. 

The fact that there is continuous advancement in supporting technologies also contributes to the increasing adoption. Technologies like 5G, VR, and AR are bringing forth new uses for IoT wearables worldwide. On the other hand, poor privacy and security infrastructure is still holding back the industry from growth.

Wearable IoT During COVID-19

While the use rate of medical wearable technology jumped from 9% in 2014 to 33% in 2018, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a higher rate of adoption. The technology has been essential at saving lives and curbing the spread of the pandemic.

Categories of IoT Devices

Wearables can easily be divided into the various parts of the body they are worn. Each part of the body allows for specific data to be transmitted or specific functions to be met. Here are the different categories:

• Head-worn wearables: Used to enhance navigation. It can help consume audio-visual content as well as in viewing text and sharing information. Helmet beacon and VR headsets are a good example of such devices.
• Chest and neck-worn wearables: Help track key vital signs, promoting better healthcare. Some of these vitals include heart rate and BP. They can also be used to improve gaming.
• Hearables: worn on the ears to promote fitness, health, and navigation. It can also be used to receive notifications.
• Arm and wrist-worn: These watches and bands promote healthcare and can be used for security purposes like authentication, and management like smart access control.
• Embedded and ingested: Can either be implanted or taken through the mouth. They allow medical professionals to track health data from within the body.

Cognitive IoT Devices

As smart as modern-day IoT sensors are, they often perform as islands from each other. That is where cognitive IoT and wearables come in. It uses intelligence technologies like AI and machine learning to give users and businesses a deeper understanding of the world. Instead of only collecting data, cognitive IoT can aggregate the data, identify patterns, and draw insights from the analysis. 

When used right, it could result in more operational efficiencies and better decision-making processes. It will enable vast devices to share data, which can be used in a larger context. This helps unlock the complex relationships between places, people, and their surroundings.

Business Drivers for the Growing Wearable Market

The three main drivers of the growing wearable market are the government, consumers, and manufacturers. Governments are coming to terms with the risks that the modern sedentary lifestyle comes with. That’s why most have been pushing their citizens to be make healthier, which results in them opting for smart wearable IoT devices to track their fitness.

Second, consumers are looking for ways to make their lives better. For instance, someone suffering from heart disease will prefer using wearables to prevent adverse health conditions. For consumers trying to let go off their phones, wearables like smartwatches allow them to stay up to date without having to pick their phone every once in a while.

Lastly, manufacturers have been conducting a lot of research and development to fulfill the demand for IoT wearable technology. Brands like Google and Samsung have been creating user-friendly operating systems for their wearables. Others have been working on tether-free wearables to turn them into standalone devices instead of mobile accessories.

New Enterprise Use Models for Wearables

Presently, wearables have a high customer churn rate, and with reason. Some devices are chunky and with an unappealing form factor for users. Others have a short battery life that requires customers to charge them often. In other cases, security is a prime concern for security-conscious customers. If the wearables are to turn into everyday devices, all these factors have to change. In fact, there could be a new business model emerging for wearables.

This model can be referred to as ‘device as a service’. The model allows people to use wearables as a subscription. For instance, if a person visits the gym, they will be offered compression gear for free, which is embedded with IoT sensors. However, they will need to use the gear under a subscription model, paying the gym or wearable technologies company for using the service. The devices will, in turn, assess their workout routines and offer insights. The same can be applied to other sectors, like healthcare and manufacturing. 

When done right, the data collected can help businesses offer more specialized services to the end-user. For this to become a reality, IoT wearables ought to become unobstructive. Users should wear the devices like everyday clothes without noticing that they are even there. It all starts with making wearables match everyday clothes.

For instance, their sensors should be reduced to the point where they are soft on the body. In the case of smart gloves, users should feel like they are using ordinary gloves, though they can enjoy great technology through them. Battery life also has to take a leap. The wearables can use better technologies to save battery or utilize better energy-producing methods.

When combined with cognitive IoT, these devices could become better at improving efficiency at homes and on factory floors. The data that the devices collect is rich enough to promote invaluable insights. For instance, a user who is feeling cold at home could automatically have their thermostat increase the home temperature to a predetermined level. This will all be done through the communication between their wearable and thermostat.

This data can also be combined with technologies like beacons for personalized services. The devices will communicate, with the permission of the customer, to determine what they want best. Besides serving the customer right, it can also increase customer engagement and revenue for the business, furthering the success of the business.

Barriers to Implementation

As the wearable device market evolves, widespread adoption will be imminent. However, there are still a few issues that hold back widespread adoption. First, many wearable devices aren’t user-friendly enough. They may have a poor battery life, uncomfortable wearable design, or even UX issues. The good thing is that manufacturers are working overtime to solve user-friendly shortcomings.

Second, these devices tend to be quite expensive, especially to the early adopters. However, the more adoption the devices get, the cheaper they become. The price issues come with interoperability, too. For enterprises and individuals to maximize the technology, they might need to invest in other products. For instance, enterprises need information systems to store and analyze data while individual users might require to buy specific phones.

Third, security and data privacy is a huge concern for the IoT wearable market. In a world where data breaches are everywhere, having ill-secured devices is scary. Sure, some of these devices rarely interact with highly sensitive data, but they could do so in the future as they evolve. The only downside is that manufacturers often design their devices with security as an afterthought. 

Customers worry that their data might end up in the wrong hands, hence the hesitance to adopt wearables. The more privacy and security-centered IoT wearables become, the higher the rates of adoption will be.

The last barrier is the limited capabilities of the devices. For instance, fitness trackers might be limited to tracking fitness. This niche use might not sit well with customers looking for a device that offers diverse use cases.

Wearable Technology Design Checklist for Wearable Devices

Designing a reliable wearable device is easier said than done. You need to analyze every choice to ensure it gets used optimally. Here are five considerations to make:

1.Intended use: this dictates everything for IoT in wearable devices, from the kind of network technology to use to where exactly it should be placed. You should also factor in the target demographic when talking about the intended use since different age groups will react differently to different factors. 
2.Location of the sensor: picking the sensor location will affect the functionality and features of wearable technology While the wrist-based sensors are a tried-and-tested option, they don’t always present the best functionality for specific devices.
3.Consider form with function: the function and form of the wearable need to complement each other. No matter how effective a device is at its job, users might avoid it if it’s unappealing in their eyes. Choose the device’s form with the target audience in mind.
4.Connectivity: how will the device share data. There are numerous data-sharing technologies available, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The choice will affect the data-sharing range and the device’s battery life.
5.Data security and privacy: even though this is among the last items in this list, it might be the most essential one. Users are often worried about their data falling into the wrong hands. You should use techniques like encryption to protect consumer data.

The Future of Wearable Technology

Even if you could have been using a smartwatch for a long time, it can still be surprising how much can be done through wearables. With the right investment in R&D, there is no telling where wearable tech will be in the future. The technology will keep enriching the lives of users while also increasing operational efficiency for businesses and industries. Here is what wearable tech will manage to do in the future (not an exhaustive list):

1. Wearable tech to combat drug addiction
Wearable tech can be used to directly or indirectly counter drug addiction. For instance, since the devices can monitor stress and sleep patterns, they can provide valuable insights into drug addiction management. As a great example of what the future might hold, the Behavior product can help track a patient’s vitals to identify and prevent a relapse into drug addiction.
2. Producing more intelligent prosthetics
Research is currently undergoing on how to produce intelligent prosthetics. This can be a game-changer for people who have lost their limbs. In the future, these prosthetics might manage to be controlled through the nervous system, mimicking normal legs.
3. Exoskeletons for the manufacturing industry
Exoskeleton use, which is basically wearable robotic vests, will turn into a norm in the future. Companies like Hyundai are currently testing their exoskeletons in different fields. For instance, these devices can be used to protect the neck and back of employees while allowing them to lift heavy items. In essence, they could increase the efficiency of these work environments.
4. 3D-printed human tissue
In the future, it could be possible for people to start using synthetic body organs. With the rate at which the IoT world is developing, creating 3D printed body organs will turn into the norm. People who need organ transplants will be the ones to gain the most. 
5. Replacing much more functions in phones
Location monitoring and check-in are basic solutions of wearable IoT,more possibility can be realized.

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