As I’ve taken a breath at the end of CES 2018 and have had time to ponder what I saw and what it may mean for the next year in technology, several overarching themes resonated. Perhaps the most important one was the extension of existing technologies into other areas and adjacencies rather than the introduction of any one thing or gadget that will change the world. The growth of athletic performance technologies migrating towards mainstream consumer health and enhanced care for the elderly, those managing chronic conditions and disabilities is a great example of this type of extension.
The wearables market is widening with brands unveiling lines of mainstream, fashion-forward smartwatches to entice and incentivize people to proactively monitor their health without conceding their personal style or watch culture. No longer is the market going to be dominated by the likes of Fitbit, Apple and Samsung, but rather popular watchmakers are throwing their respective hats into the ring. These include Fossil Group (10 of 17 brands including Skagen, Tory Burch, Kate Spade and Diesel), One61 Studios and Suunto. These new smartwatches are high fashion and designed to engage the user in their own unique way, while ultimately encouraging wearers to become more active and to prioritize their overall health.
Mitsufuji has developed a line of silver-metalized fiber clothing, branded hamon®, that monitors the biometric information of the wearer. The clothing is fitted for accurate readings, but it is not athletic compression apparel that would be too confining for everyday wear. This new “wearable” is designed to be used daily in home for sleep monitoring, in industrial operations (driver/worker stress and fatigue monitoring), and for elder care (monitoring loved ones from a distance). The possibilities for this product category are enormous and I for one cannot wait to see what will happen!
Another great product that started at the elite athlete level and has now trickled down into other industries such as workplace safety and health care is the Digitsole. This is a product that started merely as a heated insole for outdoor athletic use. It transformed into an insole designed to help runners and cyclists track and refine their performance with metrics around stride length, spin cadence, foot stress, etc. Now the product has moved into the industrial space to monitor worker posture, fatigue and movement (including slips and falls) and is moving into the health care space, potentially being a great physical therapy tool.
These are just a few of the great wearable technologies shown at CES that seek to help the human condition, whether in athletics, the workplace, a hospital or just in everyday well-being.
It’s refreshing to see technology putting the health of consumers at the forefront of innovation. The wearables market has (finally!!) become fashionable. It’s also great to see innovation originally intended for an elite few now being translated into better workplace conditions, better health and earlier detection of diseases and conditions.
I for one am happy to see this evolution of modern technology – and I’m excited to see where it all goes.
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