Smartwatches were all the rage a couple of years ago: they hit the markets at full speed at the behest of many different manufacturers who opted to use Android Wear software in their devices. But, as has often been the case in recent tech history, it was Apple that really fueled this industry with the launch of the first Apple Watch. Today, it seems that exercise tracking devices are bringing wearables back into the spotlight and with Android Wear 2.0 already having been announced in 2017, we're wondering what surprises may lurk around the corner for future wearable tech.
A wearable device is basically anything that bears a sensor and which can capture data and deliver functional services to the wearer. The universe of wearables is growing and is only limited by the creativity of the industry. Today, we have smartwatches, fitness trackers, clothes, shoes, smart jewelry, implants, e-tattoos, etc.
These devices are often connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone, which uses an app to identify certain user behaviors through daily activity stats or GPS tracking.
What can we expect from wearables in 2017?
According to the Director of Research at Gartner, Angela McIntyre, this year we're going to see a number of companies from the fashion industry begin to dabble in wearable technology, in the same way that we saw smartphone companies join forces with the automobile industry in recent years:
The smartwatch market is still evolving and in 2017, we will continue to have smartwatch introductions from fashion brands, such as Michael Kors.
A survey conducted by Gartner in 2016 showed that in the US alone, approximately 19% of people have a fitness tracking device. As underlined by McIntyre, this shows the scope of the appeal of this type of gadget among consumers.
McIntyre further explained that "smartwatches are likely to have a slow, but steady increase in adoption in 2017 compared with 2016. However, this growth will depend directly on the style, reliability and willingness of major watch brands to invest in marketing campaigns that highlight smartwatches in their production line.
From January to March this year, we saw some important announcements in the field of wearables, such as the LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport, Huawei Watch 2, Tag Heuer's Connected Modular 46, some Fossil hybrids, Michael Kors, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger and Casio. But what other releases can we expect in 2017? Here's a round-up!
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 - June 2017
The Mi Band from Xiaomi is almost a bestseller. The Chinese manufacturer has managed to join functionality with a fair price and is taking over markets worldwide, either through direct purchase on Xiaomi's website or through online purchase at outsourced retailers.
The Mi Band is used in conjunction with a smartphone, since data recorded by the bracelet can only be accessed through the accompanying app. The second generation, the Mi Band 2, brought the novelty of basic information being available on a small OLED display on the wristband itself. We have not heard many rumors yet about the third generation of the Mi Band, but I hope that Xiaomi keeps its simplicity and fair price.
Samsung Gear Fit3 - June 2017
Samsung's Gear Fit2, unlike the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, brought with it a plethora of new features. Investment in the Tizen operating system has made this bracelet a great success with all its features however, the larger price tag deters some people from purchasing it. When it comes to wearables, the market is still quite conservative and many users will only invest in this more expensive gadget if they practice sports in which this watch would be beneficial.
Incidentally, according to a recent Gartner survey, about a third of people who buy a fitness bracelet stop using the device after a few months, either because they no longer consider the information offered by the gadget useful, because they switched to using their smartphone to monitor physical activities or because they broke the wearable.
Samsung Gear Fit2
Samsung Gear IconX 2 - June 2017
The IconX is a Bluetooth headset that acts as a fitness tracking device. My initial review of the device was based on the first firmware that Samsung released the device with from the factory, but I must confess that after the first software update, the IconX got much better.
The next generation of IconX should launch at the same time as the Gear Fit3, since both were announced at the same event in June last year.
Samsung Gear S4 - September 2017
Samsung announced the new line of smartwatches running the Tizen operating system during IFA 2016. Among these models are the Gear S3 Classic and Frontier. They combine the intelligent features of the Gear S2 (2015) with the fitness functions of the Gear Fit 2.
The launch of the next generation of Samsung Gear is expected at the beginning of September at IFA 2017.
Apple Watch 3 - September 2017
The introduction of Apple's smartwatch line was important for the popularization of wearables. In 2015, Apple claimed over 50% of the smartwatch market. From these numbers, we get a clear idea of the importance of the Cupertino company in the global wearables market.
In September 2017, Apple is expected to announce the third generation of Apple Watch. We don't yet know if this will only be an upgrade of the current model or if the company will treat us to something completely new. Bearing in mind the history of iPhone launches, the first option is the most probable.
So, from this list, which wearable are you eager to see in 2017?