Over the course of the last few years, you have likely heard talk of wearable technology. More commonly known by big players in the market like FitBit or Apple Watch, wearables are becoming a new market of their own, with some estimating that the market’s value will double in 2018. As more consumers become used to wearables, this number is likely to only continue increasing.

In an attempt to make you sure you have what you need to know about wearable technology we have put together this helpful guide. In this article, we will walk through the rise of wearable tech and how software development fits into this emerging trend. Without further ado, set your clocks ahead, because we are going to the future.

The rise of wearable tech

While the very first rudimentary wearable technology dates all the way back to the 1960s, the type of devices that come to mind are most often smart watches or other similar devices. Some say that this rise in wearables comes from consumer’s apathy towards smartphones.

“It is little wonder so many companies are chasing the rapidly growing opportunity presented by wearables.” Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight.

Regardless of why it happened, we are no doubt in the middle of a wearable revolution. As these devices become more commonplace and accepted, a surge of software developers will rise with them to create apps for these different devices.

In order to create applications that will not only work on wearable devices, but work with their technology, there are a few best practices you should follow. Additionally, there are certain aspects of wearable technology that make it a unique development experience. Let’s take a look.

Understanding wearable technology software

When it comes to the actual software that goes into wearables, there are many different operating systems out there, all with their own pros and cons. However, what is important to know is that so far there has not been a leader in the space that has emerged. While this leaves the market open for someone with savvy mobile business ideas, it can make things difficult on developers creating applications for wearable technology.

The other problem with software development and wearable technology is the relative newness of the platform. Since there has been less development with wearables then say an Android phone, there is a similar lack of guidelines to follow. This can lead to rigorous troubleshooting, leading some developers to be frustrated by the development timeline.

However, if the development team is aware of these stipulations early on and can incorporate them into their Agile development process, there will be far less to worry about. Review any existing wearable technology guidelines before development to ensure there won’t be problems later on.

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A new user experience

For many developers who are used to working with mobile app design, wearable technology can throw them off. Not only do users interact with wearables differently than with mobile phones, but the users are often slightly different as well. This has led toward a shift in the design of the user experience, since not only the device has changed, but the users as well.

However, when you take a step back and look at wearable technology, most of the same UX design principles apply. In fact, the very idea of wearables came from designers trying to find a way to make the experience better for users. Instead of changing the way you design, you simply need to listen more to user stories to understand what they want out of the user experience.

As we often say of development projects, having a solid foundation is an indication of a better user experience overall. In this case, by creating solid UX design guidelines for wearable technology now, you are able to better aid future designers and developers. This, amongst other reasons, is why this is so important.

Aesthetics and design

Along with user experience, there is another kind of design that comes with wearable technology which most developers are not ready to handle: fashion. The aesthetics and design of not just wearables, but the software that goes into them has never been more important. Not only do users want something that works well, but looks nice too.

For many developers, this kind of work is uncharted territory and has led to some serious problems in the wearable market. So much so, in fact, that there are articles showing how not to get a rash when using fitness trackers.

If the wearable technology market hopes to continue forward, more developers will need to either learn about fashion or work with professionals in the industry. Bad design will not only lead to less sales and products on the market, but less people will get to see the software that developers spent time putting into it. Make aesthetics and design a priority to avoid this result.

fitness tracker

Valuable data resource

The last thing you should know about wearable technology is that it is a highly valuable data resource. With any emerging technology, any sort of user engagement metrics that you can track are invaluable to that technologies success. In the case of wearable technology, since users are always close with their devices, the data available is even more helpful.

Thankfully, wearables actually have larger datasets via the cloud that you might expect, meaning that you can learn from others while offering your own insights. Our word of advice here is that you take advantage of this resource. Not only will you be up-to-date on the latest trends, but you might be able to avoid mistakes before they happen.

Final thoughts

As the world continues to embrace new technologies like wearables and IoT devices, more developers will start to realize what an untapped market there is for creating apps that work well on these devices.

2018 is a little over a week away and while no one knows what the future holds, wearable technology is a pretty safe bet. For those who are looking to get ahead of the curve, now is the time to start, so get after it!