Happy New Years Eve! It’s time to look ahead to what 2017 has in store for us in the wonderful world of wearable and connected-self tech.
From first thing in the morning to getting your head down at night, here’s where we think wearables will filter into that daily routine.
Getting dressed in the morning
After several vibrating shakes from the silent alarm on your Fitbit, you’re gently roused from your slumber. But maybe today you don’t really want to show off your sporty-looking – that’s ok, because 2016 was the year wearables started blending more effortlessly with your clothing.
Fossil helped spearhead progress there majorly, but there’s more to come as fashionable wearables continue to break through, and by the end of 2017 it’s possible you’ll be popping on a smart ring before work in the morning.
That’s not to mention all the smart clothing which is already emerging. Heading out for an early morning jog? Just slip on some smart trainers.
Braving the commute
Before heading out the door, best to check what the traffic’s like. “Alexa, what’s my commute look like?” you ask your Echo. Not too bad – if you leave now you’ll make it to work in time. As you close the front door your heating powers down and lights switch off without you having to press a single button – isn’t the smart home so much better now?
You hop in the car, but you remember you said your friend could use your apartment that day. No problem, you can control your thermostat from the car with the power of your voice, as you command it to switch the heating back on.
Although maybe today you decide you’d rather take the bus. Sick of untangling earphones? Well in 2017 it’s even less likely that this is going to be an issue, with hearables on the up, not to mention that Apple probably won’t be the only one cutting the headphone jack from its phones.
We’ve predicted that hearables will be big in 2017, as ambient computing begins to take over. As you step onto the bus, you can ask Siri/Cortana/Alexa for an update on the sports score, or for your fitness goals for the day, before turning up a bit of LCD Soundsystem.
Alternatively, why not strap on your Google Daydream View for a quick bit of way-to-work VR, swapping the reality of your morning commute for an adventure in a far flung galaxy – or just about anywhere else you can think of.
On the job
Who says you will have to spend big to experience wearable tech? Just get work to pay for it. Take Microsoft’s HoloLens holographic headset for instance. A consumer version is still possibly a couple of years away, but the developer version is already out, and could be shaking up the workplace along with all sorts of other AR devices.
Of course, looking after your health is important too, and keeping on top of stress is a big part of that. Stress-beating wearables will play a big role in 2017. The Apple Watch and Fitbit Charge 2 are already focusing on mindfulness with breathing exercises, while upcoming devices like the Vinaya Zenta will use sensors to create an emotional profile that helps you make positive steps towards better wellbeing. Some other devices, like the Thync Relax, are more about slipping something on for a few minutes during the busy work day to unload some of the stress.
Monitoring your hydration is also going to be a more important deal, with companies like LVL getting in the picture.
Leaving the wallet (and the phone) behind
You don’t fancy what’s on the canteen lunch menu, so you decide to make a quick trip to the shops. But you’ve left your wallet and your phone up on your desk on the 11th floor. It’s fine though, because you’ve got an LTE-enabled smartwatch around your wrist.
And it’s not just smartwatches with payment power. MasterCard is making a big push for wearable payments into fitness trackers, while we’re also seeing NFC payments slip into smart jewelry, with the likes of Ringly getting involved. 2017 could be the year mobile payments become ubiquitous, so there’ll be no reason to panic when you go to pay for your meal and find nothing but old receipts in your pocket.
A session in the gym
So you didn’t make it for that early morning run. Fortunately, you’ve got that recently acquired gym membership fuelled by that New Year’s resolution to get in shape – and you’re going to make use of it. There’s that guy from the gym again who can spot a newbie and wants to lure you with personal training sessions to shed the festive weight.
You don’t need him though. That’s because you’ll have your own personal coach around your wrist, on your arm or even packed inside of a gym shirt. Not only have fitness trackers outpaced smartwatches, in 2016 they moved beyond basic tracking, with 2017 set to be a big year for more meaningful metrics.
Better smart coaching and focusing on more meaningful stats like VO2 Max, both in and outside of the gym, are making trackers smarter, capable of monitoring more biometric data and helping us better hit our potential. In 2017, you can leave the step counters at home.
Big night out
Away from your smartwatch screen turning on every time a notification comes through or your Misfit Phase telling you to move because you haven’t bought a round yet, wearables can largely live in the background.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t have a role to play when you’re having a few drinks after work. Wearables for women were a big trend in 2016 and companies like Mangos and Nimb are concerned not with step tracking but with ensuring you get home safe and sound.
Meanwhile we expect new forms from Fossil too, meaning wearables in 2017 should be better prepared than ever for a night out on the town.
After a long day at work…
But this time next year, you might be putting on a wireless HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, and VR controllers may be a thing of the past. 2016 was the year VR came alive, but 2017 will be more exciting as systems start maturing and more interesting ideas come out of the woodwork. More social experiences and bigger games will lead the way, but by the end of 2017 eye-tracking VR looks set to be very much a thing.
Then there’s mixed reality, which we reckon has the best chance of being a mainstream success. By bringing the real and virtual worlds together, VR has the opportunity to create an experience like no other, in the work place and during your leisure hours.
Cooking up a storm
Maybe the last thing you want to think about at the end of a long day is preparing food, but in 2017 the kitchen will be smarter than ever, meaning less effort required by you – which can only be a good thing.
After asking Alexa for some recipe ideas, via the Jamie Oliver skill, you can get the WeMo-enabled crock-pot running, as you monitor the temperature and cooking time from another room using the smartphone app. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing your Nest smoke alarm will buzz your phone should it detect anything dangerous.
And you’ll never be out of essential ingredients either due to tech like GeniCan and Amazon’s Dash buttons helping you keep an eye on your supplies.
After immersing yourself in the virtual world, it’s time to get back to reality for some shut-eye. When it comes to sleep tracking, wearables have made decent strides in 2016, but are still skimming the surface of what’s possible. Thanks to dedicated devices like Sense and Beddit providing more helpful feedback, wearables aren’t just tracking our sleep but helping us get better rest. Here’s to more Zzzs in 2017.