The smart wearable market is rapidly evolving to offer more value to the end user. Sure the Apple Watch is cool, but does it really enhance the user’s life in a meaningful manner? These questions keep coming up and the industry seems to have an answer.
The next generation of wearables will essentially offer a lot more benefits as a result of advancements in technology and changes in perception from a software development standpoint.
One of the main forces driving the next generation of wearables is System-on-Chip (SoC) innovation which has become absolutely necessary for enhancing the wearable fitness and sports devices. So expect your Fitbit to get even better!
What is System-on-Chip?
A SoC, as the name suggests, is a tiny chip that is incorporated into electronic devices. It’s essentially like a little chip where it may have a microprocessor, analog-to-digital converter, memory, and even input/output logic control.
It’s sort of a desktop from the late 1990s that’s been compressed into a little button size chip. So you can say that it’s really like a small CPU that breaks the barriers to take the Internet of Things (IoT) to the next level.
When it comes to wearables, Intel’s Curie which is SoC based on the Intel Quark SE comes to mind. It’s the size of a shirt button, but it has all the computing power that you need to power a wearable device.
What’s really great about the Curie is the fact that its designed to enable novice developers to quickly start making smart products.
What’s in the Curie?
Intel’s Curie is equipped with Intel’s Quark SoC (32-bits), 80kB SRAM, and 384kB flash memory. It’s easy to incorporate into wearable technology as it comes with an easy-to-integrate package, a gyroscope sensor for gesture recognition, and movement and a six-axis combo accelerometer.
Further, the Curie also incorporates Bluetooth for low energy communication, battery charging circuits, and digital sensor hub with a pattern-matching accelerator.
Future of SoC
Like all smart technology these days, the SoC is also evolving rapidly. So you can expect it to be equipped with nanorobots that can be programmed (in theory) to act as antibodies to cure diseases. Further, embedding these chips in the human brain could also enable the blind to see and the deaf to hear.
Although research and development of SoC is a catalyst to take wearables to the next level, it’s not the only technology that is making waves in the industry.
The Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) is a semiconductor fabrication technique that basically uses silicon oxide and pure crystal silicon for microchips and integrated circuits (ICs).
The SOI microchip has a processing speed that’s 30% faster than Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductors (CMOS) supported chips. Further, it can reduce power consumption by 80%, so it’s perfect for smart wearables.
SOI chips also significantly decrease soft error rates which can corrupt data as a result of natural radioactive background signals and cosmic rays.
This technology will enable wearables to do a lot more than count steps and count calories. Now we can expect wearables to start tracking brain activity with happiness monitors, attention monitors, and mindfulness assistance. Further, you can also expect diabetes and substance abuse trackers to make an impact in the wearable segment in the coming months.
Although SoC and SoI are the primary driving forces behind the next generation of wearables, the secondary driving forces are crowdfunding, 3D printing, 5G and smartphones (none of this would have even been possible without the enhanced adoption of smartphones).
All these tiny wearables will definitely pose a new challenge for application developers who'll have to come up with new ideas for UX / UI design and features to make most sense in a new form factor.