The future of wearables will be individualised, data-driven and analytics-intensive devices
Smart watches and fitness bands hold a strong position in the wearable devices market. Worldwide, the wearables market is expected to double by 2021 and nearly 2.7 million units of wearables were sold in India last year. According to a recent report by market research firm IDC, Xiaomi had 41% share of the Indian market in the third quarter of 2018, followed by GOQii at 19%. Then follows Titan, Samsung, and Fossil in terms of market share. As part of the ‘Bengaluru By Design’ festival in November 2018, watch maker Titan hosted ‘Titan Design Day, where industry leaders participated to discuss how the Indian wearable tech market is evolving and the key design philosophies that go into making a successful wearble tech product.
The wearable device market can be classified into basic wearables (ones which do not run apps or an OS) and smart wearables (ones which run apps and have built-in OS, say, a smart watch). In India, price conscious buyers have opened up a huge market for basic wearables which simply track the body vitals and record it on a mobile app. Today, majority of the wearable devices are in the form of a watch or a wrist band, following the tradition of wrist watches. Due to this, a number of brands, including Titan, compete in this space.
“Design is at the core of each product. We are not a major tech company but a watch maker which incorporates technology for providing best products for consumers. Hence, design has been our strength and we have strong technology teams as well as partners today. The market is huge for us and the competition to play at the same time,” says Revathi Kant, chief design officer, Titan.
However, there is a common plane on which Titan and tech-first companies come together and that is ‘user experience and consumer-first products’. The future of wearable tech will be highly individualised, data driven and analytics intensive. One of the bigger applications of this will continue to be in the healthcare and fitness sector, at least in the nearest future. The latest edition of Apple watch even introduced an Electro Cardio Gram (ECG) feature. Fitness bands already track essential body vitals. Wrist wears, smart watches and fitness bands can also be used to enable payments. Smartwatches can also serve as safety devices. Cameras, mics and speakers can also be built in these devices. These are already in the market but need to be developed further.
“Interpretation of data collected through wearables is important. And so, it is not just important to develop individual products, but also equally important to develop a whole ecosystem or a platform,” explains Abhishek Sharma, CMO, GOQii.
With humungous data collected from these ecosystems, Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning (ML) become inevitable in analysing them and creating personalised experiences for consumers. Health monitoring companies like Monitra Healthcare use wearble devices to monitor patients. Ravi Bhogu, founder of the company, says that it is more important to keep a note of what data is being collected than collecting data itself. He says that even if ECG is recorded, it makes no sense if it is collected without knowing why.
Wearable healthcare tech need not be designed for wrists alone. Anshuman Singh, co-founder of ReTiSense, which makes smart soles for footwears, says industrial design plays a major role in the way materials are chosen and how products are designed for different parts of the body. Design encompases the incorporation of technology in a product and hence the two go hand-in-hand. Singh says that if companies do not obssess over design, the technology, however good it maybe, will fail with the product. While this maybe true, the vice-versa is also true—obssessing over design and giving less importance to technology will not work too.