The spread of wearable devices continues to accelerate as the technology catches on with consumers and in specialized implementations such as healthcare. Whether in real-world or virtual scenarios, wearables create new business opportunities and improve work quality in every conceivable situation. The experts forecast that wearables will be ubiquitous in the workplace by 2020.
Researchers also predict that mobile developers will face challenges when they include wearables in the platform design process. Those developers who have not yet begun to look at how to integrate this new consumer technology in design for connected devices need to start now as a recent survey found that around two-thirds of designers and developers are already considering it.
Designing And Developing For Many Channels
The most pressing issue for the creators of wearable apps is the divide between the design and development communities on one side, and the stakeholders that make the decisions on the other; too many non-technical stakeholders don’t appreciate the urgency of IT objectives regarding the new platforms.
Barriers to entry that block the rollout of wearable applications boil down to two interrelated factors:
- the lack of time and resources, and
- the complexity of Omni-channel development.
Changing And Responding
Omni-channel development refers to the plethora of channels across which marketers can connect with customers. In design and development, the problem is how to accommodate the different platform formats. Given that other platforms, such as iOS and Android already require different development tracks, not compatible with desktop apps.
The lack of information about how consumers will use new apps on a relatively new platform is an additional challenge. There is a gap between the emergence of new technology and the wearables use-cases that developers have as targets. Of the developers and designers who are moving ahead with applications, a majority intends to develop between two and four apps in the timeframe of the next year.
The greatest challenges that developers face are related to the risk and complexities of building apps on multiple platforms and devices. The user demands also add complexity, as an additional concern is the consumer expectations that all of the features they want will be included immediately in wearable functionality.
In Search Of A Patron
One example of an initiative in response to technology outpacing the market comes from the multinational electronics corporation Philips. The giant of European tech is putting its resources behind developing wearable technologies for healthcare. The company recently sponsored a challenge for developers to create wearable healthcare sensors and generated several innovative wearable biosensors to facilitate new strategies in chronic care.
As with other areas in which wearables show potential, the problem in health is that even with need and opportunities development has been slow. The wearables industry faces issues of trust within the healthcare community. The Philips initiative addresses that issue, and the pace of development is likely to accelerate as new apps begin to go out to market.
The current pain point for mobile developers comes from the disconnect between existing technology to design and develop the apps and what the market will demand. Although the ultimate direction and use of wearables is still uncertain, the signal that the market will want some form in large quantities is loud and clear. Mobile design and development teams that have not yet begun to include wearables in their plans had better get going or prepare to be left out completely!