‘Wearable’ technology frenzy in the Mobile World Congress

‘Wearable’ technology frenzy in the Mobile World Congress


During the Mobile World Congress (MWC) held in Barcelona many devices competed for the attention of the more than 85,000 attendees and media participating in the event: smartphones, tablets, phablets… However, there was another technology very present, and it showed that it’s getting integrated with surprising ease in our daily lives: the wearable technology.

It’s the next generation of electronic devices that can collect or send information in real time. These devices transform glasseswatches, bracelets or necklaces into smart devices that, at the same time, allow us to free our hands, now ‘blocked’ with mobiles.

This is why this technology is creating so much excitement. It’s an emerging market setting a new channel of mobile content consumption. Actually, economic forecasts show promising data: according to Business Insider, this new sector could eventually move in 2018 up to 13 billion dollars.

Undoubtedly, this represents a great market opportunity not only for technology manufacturers, but also for developers, as one of the challenges of these devices is that they need to be nurtured with applications built specifically for them. This is why Intel has launched the Make it Wearable programme, aiming to promote the development of applications for wearable devices. The approach is two-folded:

 – Visionary Track: it aims to recognise the best ideas to enhance the development of wearable products and services;

 – Development Tack: Intel launches an ‘incubation process’ that allows to generate a design and a business plan. Registration for this track begins in the summer of 2014. As a developer you have to submit a proposal and a video describing an innovative and creative product concept. As participants advance to semi-final and final rounds, they will receive mentorship.

Look at what other companies have already created and discover what needs to be done. According to Intel, the ideas submitted to its programme will be evaluated seeking a balance between creativity, feasibility and market potential.

Looking for inspiration? Check out some of the new products presented in Barcelona. For example, Samsung unveiled its new generation of smartwatches, Galaxy Gear 2 and the Gear Fit band. Sony, meanwhile, stood out for its Smartband offer, while LG presented its LifeBand Touch bracelet, with headphones that not only allow you to listen to music but also to measure your pulse rate and evaluate better your physic activity.

Besides the numerous devices presented at the MWC, there was also time for round tables and panels where the present and the future of wearable technology was analysed. The most interesting debate was generated at the Wearable World, led by Intel, which counted with the participation of some of the leaders in wearable technology, such as Laurent Le Pen, CEO of Omate; Christian Lindholm, CEO of Koru Labs; Jerome Nadel, CMO of Rambus, and Scott Kvetton, CEO of Urban Airship.

Kvetton accurately summarised the three types of wearable devices that are currently being developed:

– Convenience wearable: this category includes all those devices that convey the same information we already get in our mobile devices, but in smaller and portable screens, such as the Galaxy Gear watches presented ​​by Samsung.

– Preservation wearable:  these are the devices that are more focused on health, those who perform a permanent analysis of our physical condition and our exercise and report our health state with great assiduity. Bracelets or watches that monitor our physical activity were the stars of this year’s MWC, i.e. Sony's SmartBand, Fitibit or Huawei's Talkband.

– Live augmentation: related to the convenience wearable, these are devices that send or record information but communicate with us through augmented reality. Certainly the most obvious example in this field is the Google Glass.

At the roundtable moderated by the editor of Re/Code, Ina Fried, the CEO of Kory Labs, Christian Lindholm, dared to venture that in six years we will all be using a wearable device "connected to a network and nearly or completely transparent." It is perhaps an optimistic prediction, but the arrival of Bluetooth 4.0, which allows to consume very little mobile battery power, is going to be indeed a major incentive. Actually, the consulting firm IDC notes that in 2014 there will be already a 500% increase in the use of wearable devices.

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