As wearables become more common, consumers also want them to be smaller and less obtrusive. Smartwatches are in a heyday now, but the consumer of the future might be looking for a device that is not only more useful, but more invisible.
Editorial Director David Mantey talked about this and more Nick Langston, the head of electronic manufacturing at TE Connectivity’s Wearables Team, in an exclusive interview this week.
Wearables are about “delivering to the customer some insight that helps them improve their life or change their behavior in some way,” Langston said.
Therefore, developers like TE Connectivity’s Wearables Team are trying to create wearables that can fold and drape like cloth. TE Connectivity has brought fashion designers as well as electronics engineers on board in order to help enable device manufacturers to deliver small products that integrate well with clothing.
Products like that must also be wireless, but that isn’t the most difficult part, Langston said. Most wearables are low power, and wireless charging by magnetic induction is well established. The harder part is finding a way to deploy sensors unobtrusively into soft cloth.
Once that is discovered, though, Langston sees it building rapidly on wearable technology in use already. Brands like the Hug Shirt already use haptic fabrics to create long-distance human communication. Langston predicted a rise in “social connectivity” due to that type of wearable. What if football fans wearing team jerseys could feel the impact when their team takes a hit?
This future might be closer than one would think. “In the next two years we’re going to see smartwatches come out big time,” Langston said. Smart garments will build off of the smartwatch market, he predicted, while the smartwatch industry will begin to blend with the large, powerfultraditional watch market.
Smart garments are already in use among athletes, and that might be their breakout use, Langston said. In about two years, he predicts, we’ll see “really useful consumer garments” that can interact with devices using gesture or touch.
What about beyond two or three years’ time? Could haptic sensors create more social emptiness than social connection? Mantey asks these questions in the video too, but Langston jokes that we shouldn’t think too far ahead: “Then, two or three years from now we all become part of the Borgand it’s all over by then anyway.”
Watch the complete interview on From the Top.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)