The future of wearable devices is still uncertain. New devices are being unveiled on a seemingly daily basis as companies attempt to take advantage of the apparent demand for wearable technology. Many of the devices being offered by such companies have novelty value, but little practical use. Notably, one of the only sectors of wearable technology that has any significant activity has to do with tracking activity. Smartwatches, bracelets, and other such devices that keep track of a person’s physical activity have become somewhat popular, but every other sector of wearable tech has yet to establish traction.
Augmented reality devices, such as headsets and glasses, are often touted as the future of wearable tech. These devices are often touted as the future of wearable technology because of their ability to literally change the way people see the world around them. To date, however, few of these devices have been released, with most seeing only a trial launch among a very small demographic. These devices are also used primarily for entertainment purposes or for the sake of social media.
Apart from augmented reality, wearable devices have relatively little value. Smartwatches are becoming more popular, but are not likely to replace smartphones or tablets any time soon. These devices typical have the features that are already common in most other mobile devices, but are worn instead of held. Where wearable technology could shine is in the slew of wearable sensors that are beginning to enter the market.
These sensors have massive practical value, but are not necessarily designed for consumers. Wearable sensors are often used in the medical field and in certain commercial industries to acquire information about the human body. Investments in wearable sensor technology has grown from $49 million in 2011 to more than $280 million as of 2013.
Wearable technology may not be as glamorous as it is made out to be in science fiction, and wearable devices may never be able to replace traditional smartphones and tablets. As entertainment platforms, however, these devices could have a lot of promise. Companies like Microsoft and Sony are reportedly working on developing augmented reality headsets that promise to change the way people experience games. These same devices could lead to more immersive entertainment experiences as well.