Wearable Tech: More Than Just A Clever Accessory

By Andrew Hawn co-founder of MetaForesight and Jennifer Hawn, contributors to Metametrix

I recently had lunch with a friend who showed me his latest accessory: wearable health tracking technology. Frank sported a new watch equipped with various apps, including Google Fit, Lifesum and social fitness app Strava, all designed to monitor his blood pressure, daily activity and food intake. At 83, Frank is still running marathons and is undoubtedly more fit than most of us. His wearable tech, both his watch and his phone with an array of new fitness and wellness apps, are fast becoming more than clever accessories; they are essential elements of Frank’s lifestyle.

And so, what are consumers looking for today in wearable health technology? A closer look using Metametrix insights platform reveals core values associated with a growing market for wearable wellness technology. Emerging concepts center on empowering individuals with solutions that move beyond simple health tracking technology like pedometers and heart-rate monitoring. Today’s maturing market for wellness tech is about a persistent and connected ecosystem that is seamless, ambient, accurate, and personalized.

The potential for wearable technology to offer accurate and personalized health information is already significant. Apple has remained steadfast in its focus on wearable tech, and the Apple Watch now offers notable features that move beyond healthy lifestyle apps; Apple’s Watch acts as a real-time ECG to monitor heart rate and rhythm endorsed by the President of the American Heart Association. Access and security are also key concepts that Apple has led with in its marketing in a move toward offering services to both the patient and healthcare practitioner via a variety of apps designed to monitor and track healthcare data.

Though the Apple Watch dominates the market, Samsung and Google have also gained momentum in the past couple of years as the wearables market continues to slowly grow. In fact, earlier this year Google purchased the Fossil Tech team for $40 million dollars in a bid to expand their influence in the space with partners building on their Wear OS. This strategy has more to do with decidedly analog pursuits of fashion and design than it does to do with advancing the core device technology. For Google, leaning into a more personalized, seamless and ambient future seemed like a solid bet.

The simple fact is that the wearable market is demanding more options. As technology advances to include a wider array of ambient, hybrid, more often voice driven, and highly personalized wearable devices, user’s expectations for more varied wearables is also increasing. So whether you are a 22 year-old Gen Z or 83, like Frank, the attraction to use wearable tech to unlock your growing universe of ambient and very personalized data, isn’t likely to slow down.

The central question then is: will technology companies be ready for the strong emergence of user needs for ambient personalization that is fashionably and seamlessly embedded in solid design? The answer might be more of an even blend of analog and digital than most tech companies expect.