Are we nearly there yet?

February 28, 2017 // By Randy Scasny
We’ve seen wearable technology accelerate fast but with every year that passes we’re promised that this year will be ‘the’ year for wearable tech and yet we still seem to be stuck in what appears to be, an insurmountable development curve. Wearable connected devices have been hitting the shelves but not all have seen great success.

With McKinsey Global and Cisco both predicting that the IoT will generate over $10 trillion in the next decade, there is huge revenue potential for wearables but what are designers and developers missing - what are the final barriers that we need to break through?

At Farnell element14, we believe that there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome for wearables to achieve widespread adoption: engineers need to develop products that are affordable, and overcome the technical challenges that limit their usefulness.


Will wearables ever be more than a luxury?

For wearables to be a really attractive package, they have to be affordable. Many consumers still feel that a wearable device is a luxury and not a necessity but design engineers need not worry. Mobile phones faced exactly the same hurdle in the 1980’s and now analysts forecast that by 2019 the world will see over 5 billion mobile phone users. For the majority of consumers, price will always be a deciding factor for purchasing a wearable device. The 2016 Gartner Personal Technologies Study surveyed 9,592 people and the response heavily indicated that wearable devices are too expensive based on their perceived usefulness. Gartner believes that wearable providers that do not have a strong brand name will find it more difficult to grow market share, competing directly with popular brands. Instead, they should accept lower margins and provide an alternative that is priced significantly lower than top brands, but still has good quality for price-sensitive consumers.

As with any new technology, prices rarely remain high, especially in sectors where competition is so high as with wearable technology. From a design and production perspective, costs also decrease as global distributors such as Farnell element14 offer broad line cards and design services to support designers and help to streamline the design through to production experience.