What’s Next After Wearables?

Mike Gillam, 9 April 2015

Recent media has been filled with evidence that wearables seem to be coming down off a hype-cycle.

  • Nike laid off 50 employees in its FuelBand hardware division.
  • A German healthcare research team gave 2,000 different wearable devices to patients and within 2 months, 80% were lost, broken, or no longer worn.
  •  Zeo, a $150 wearable device for tracking sleep, shut its doors. while SleepCycle  a $0.99 App in the App store, which uses your cell phone motion to deliver almost the same sleep data, continues into the millions of downloads.
  • FaceBook didn’t buy FitBit – rather, they bought Moves – a “dematerialized” version of FiBit which delivers almost the same movement tracking data via an app that runs on your phone.
  • Even Steven Colbert has piled on poking fun at wearables.

Wearables seem to have taken the world by storm. Yet, is there a storm brewing for wearables?

Marc Andreessen said “software is eating the world.”

What is eating wearables?  Ambient technology.

Today, Amazon announced that Echo  their voice activated Bluetooth speaker, will now support controlling home automation technology like WEMO and Philips Hue.

We are moving quickly to a time where instead of wearing a new device – the sensors are in the spaces around us.  The trend has already begun.

  • Smart Plates may soon be arriving. GE has debuted their research on a plate that measures the calories on your plate. No more typing meals and counting calories in apps.

  • MyVessyl is a “smart cup” – a sensor equipped cup that detects the content and quantity of what you are drinking.

  • Bedit embeds sleep tracking strips into mattresses. No more strapping a FitBit to your wrist or configuring SleepCycle on your phone.

  • PlaySight sits on courts and tracks every tennis shot and player movement automatically.
  • Sense by Hello is a kickstarter project from Peter Thiel’s Fellows targeting better sleep tracking through ambient sensors.

Wearables are becoming “Outside-ables.”

Many existing wearables could be modified for this new age. Think of LUMOback embedded into your office chair and the seats in your car to alert you about your posture – or the cell-phone EKG AliveCor embedded into your car’s steering wheel.

Perhaps soon we will call it the Ambient Age.

How many wearables today could become ambient sensors for tomorrow? Comment below.

Mike Gillam, MD, FACEP  2015

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