Wearable technologies have become a consumer electronics industry hot topic as the number of 'prototype' devices on show at CES 2015 in Las Vegas proved. Yet Triteq knows there's a lot more to producing a truly successful wearable than just making it small and sticking it on a wristband. Nick Valentine considers the design and analysis skills needed to engineer wearable devices and smart clothing that are truly fit for purpose.
Wearable devices and their cousins, hearables and nearables, are the technologies most likely to transform our immediate future. All derive power and reach from the emerging Internet of Everything (IoE) heading for a population of 30 billion connected devices by 2020.
This revolution began with the smartphone, now dominant as our ‘remote control for life’ with the average phone picked up 1,500 times a day. This is intrusive technology that gets in the way.
The quest now is to use emerging technological gateways to make devices more discrete, useful and stress-free.
Worn on the wrist, as badges or clothing, wearable devices can monitor an array of health functions, fitness activity, even brain or sleep patterns. They can protect users while keeping them informed and connected.
Wearables and tech togs can marry ubiquitous computing, user-centric design, ergonomics, microelectronics and embedded software with near field communication (NFC) and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technologies. They can serve vital applications while remaining unobtrusive.
These are all areas where Triteq can bring valuable analytical, design and engineering skills to bear.
The wearables wave
Wearable technology is seen as the next trend, with the industry forecast to reach $50bn by 2018.
This could accelerate with the convergence of wearable technology with hearables (in ear audio-emitting devices) and nearables (remote devices that communicate with the wearable, making it ‘smarter’).
Yet early devices are already suffering from “wearables fatigue’. A 2014 American technology group survey found that more than half of wearables were discarded, most within the first six months.
Wearables have to pass formidable technical challenges of accuracy, reliability, longevity and user safety. One fitness-tracking device had to be withdrawn in 2014, six months after launch, after the wristband material was found to cause skin irritation. Where the wearable device performs safety-critical functions there is zero room for error. Medical devices must pass IEC62366 compliant processes to achieve regulatory approval.
Above all, the device must be fit for purpose and seamlessly adapted to target user lifestyle to gain acceptance. A wearable that is not worn is worse than useless.
Triteq and wearables
Triteq’s capabilities in wearable design and construction begins with a flawless record in developing and producing safety critical medical devices in applications such as cervical cancer scanning and artificial pancreas as well as wearable devices that monitor infant health, GPS track Alzheimer’s patients and protect vulnerable workers.
These all rely on Triteq expertise in implementing integrated electronics and embedded software.
Triteq’s 'All under one roof' capabilities in design and engineering are highly relevant to wearables, where technical development, human factors, ergonomics, health, safety and risk assessment and project management must all stay in lockstep to assure a successful product.
Moreover, Triteq’s perfected integrated product development process marries fundamental needs analysis, user-case, human factors, intelligent design, proving and rigorous ISO 13485 quality assurance in one user-centric model ideally suited to wearable technologies.