Each year, wearable gadgets and devices continue to improve and grow as new technologies are born and others fade away. With such rapid technology cycles, it can be hard to keep up with the latest tools and trends that can be making a difference today. In the interest of maintaining awareness of wearable technology trends, we have put together 5 you should be watching in 2018.

While wearable technology trends may not seem like a huge deal, according to recent reports, the wearable tech market is looking to grow to $34 billion by 2020. Not only is it important to be on top of such a large movement in the tech industry, but wearable devices will soon effect everything from IoT to mobile app development.

Let’s start off by taking a look at what wearable tech looks like in 2018 and how current trends can give us a glimpse into the future of the industry.

wearable technology trends

State of wearable tech in 2018

In 2018, more wearable devices are entering the market and becoming part of the cultural conversation than ever before. According to Statista, the number of connected wearable devices reached 453 million in 2017 and is forecasted to reach 929 million by 2021. From Apple Watch to Snapchat’s Spectacles, companies both large and small are beginning to get involved in these wearable technology trends, helping boost this rapid expansion.

All that being said, it’s one thing to see a rise in wearable tech, it is another to monitor the emerging trends and understand where they are headed. By predicting where these trends will go, we can develop wearable devices for the future instead of trying to keep up with what’s hot right now. The trends we will review next are just a glimpse of what is to come and should be used to plan for the future, rather than simply duplicate.

Wearable technology trends

With a better understanding of where wearable technology trends are headed and the potential for growth inherent in the industry, let’s take a closer look at these trends and how they can help guide development projects. Hopefully, with the right guidance, we can create better products for a market that is eager to engage with them.

1. More intelligent smartwatches

Smartwatches are nothing new when it comes to wearable technology trends, as they have long made up the majority of the wearable market. However, with recent AI and IoT platform integrations, new, more intelligent smartwatches are coming and savvy developers should take note. When you consider that around 42 million smartwatches are sold each year, it is clear that this huge market is only going to get more advanced.

One area that will grow along with an increase in IoT-enabled smartwatches is IoT apps for handling various tasks. As both the home and the workplace accept more solutions like these, wearable devices will be the main tool used by developers to control everything from the lights to the front door. If you are able to begin working on something now that can be used for this purpose, you can find and under-utilized niche and take advantage of it before others get the chance.

2. Women’s safety and wearable devices

On the heels of the recent #MeToo movement and a call from women globally for actionable change, companies on all sides of the issue have begun working on various solutions. Wearable devices are one area that has the potential to help with reporting crimes, fighting off attackers, and dealing with the after-effects of sexual assault. This is one wearable technology trend everyone should care about and invest in for creating a safer society for all.

3. Smarter data collection

In addition to helping create a better customer experience with wearable technology, these devices can provide smarter data collection for creating a better user experience. User engagement metrics on wearables devices are more intimate than even smart phones, leading to more robust solutions. However, with recent data scandals from big names like Facebook, user’s data security on IoT and wearable devices have never been more important.

The best way to take advantage of these wearable technology trends without exploiting user data is to make sure your users know exactly what information you are collecting and using. By being open and transparent about this from the very beginning, even going so far as to include an opt-out, your users will be able to trust you and you will be able to collect more useful data.

4. IoT integration

As we have mentioned earlier, integration with IoT devices has been a major wearable technology trend and will only continue to be a prominent part of the wearable market as smart homes and offices become more common. This is why more businesses need to get involved in IoT integration and begin to settle on accepted design and development practices for seamless user experiences no matter what devices and platforms are being used.

This is where a certain level of creativity can go a long way, especially when trying to find a niche for your product or offering. After all, these devices once only existed in sci-fi novels, now they are coming to us at lower costs than ever. If you can create an exceptional IoT and wearable integration, who knows where it could take you!

5. AI for everyone

The final item on our list of wearable technology trends is that of artificial intelligence or AI, another recent technology that has the potential to radically alter our day to day lives. With recent advances in cloud computing, it seems that wearables could soon have a place with AI for helping consumers better handle everything from their calendars to how much energy their house uses.

For developers who have experience with artificial intelligence, this is a huge area that can be taken advantage of to improve processes with both IoT and wearable devices. As it currently stands, there hasn’t been one brand that has emerged above the others, so targeting this niche has potential to be game-changing.

Final thoughts – What comes next?

Now, as we have been reviewing these wearable technology trends, you may have been wondering: what comes next? After all, these are still fairly new technologies, so why should we spend time or money investing in them when something else might come along? While this is something good to think on, we chose these 5 trends specifically because they have the staying power that other technology trends don’t.

By investing in these trends now, developers can get a leg up on their competition and be the first to market. However, it’s not always about being first, but creating the best solution. As long as you take the lessons you have learned from these trends and apply them going forward, you can get the best of both worlds and truly set yourself apart. Now get after it!