This week I attended Wearable Tech World, where I moderated a panel on smartwatches, sat as a panelist to discuss the future of the wearable market opportunity, and also got to participate as a judge on their startup pitch-fest.
While much of my early focus on wearables has been around smartwatches, I’ve been interested in the broader wearables opportunity across both consumer and enterprise/industrial, so this conference gave me a good chance to check in with what some of the interesting new startups are doing in the space.
Some high level thoughts about the wearable opportunity post-show:
- The enterprise and industrial space will likely embrace certain wearable technologies before consumer, particularly smart glasses. Talking to companies like Vuzix made it clear to me that there is already progress being made in warehouse/industrial, military and retail markets around smart eyewear, and these are verticals where social stigma and higher price points don’t matter early on (but massive efficiency gains do, hence the interest).
- I can see where smart fabrics and textiles is already finding market traction. I expect the most early action in athletics and fitness, and not soon after in medical/healthcare.
- Vendor interoperability in this wearable tech will matter, so I think you’ll begin to see client-side wearable tech hardware and software providers begin to partner with each other as well as larger infrastructure/cloud players to ensure this stuff talks to each other, all of which will be hugely important in the associated data and services opportunity presented by wearable tech.
- I consider virtual reality headsets part of the wearable tech family, and there is some exciting stuff going on here. While new game consoles are interesting, overall gaming innovation has plateaued, and the next big leap – total immersion gaming – will be driven by some of the technology being developed in the wearable tech space. One exciting new technology I saw was the intermingling of virtual with real-space, where gamers see and interact with video characters and environments overlayed on top of their existing physical surroundings. Like I said, total immersion.