Wearables To Grow And Disappear From Sight
Gartner has forecast 30 per cent of smart wearables will be inconspicuous to the eye, with Gartner research director Annette Zimmermann noting there are already “some interesting developments at the prototype stage that could pave the way for consumer wearables to blend seamlessly into their surroundings”.
“Smart contact lenses are one type in development,” Zimmermann commented. “Another interesting wearable that is emerging is smart jewelry. There are around a dozen crowdfunded projects competing right now in this area, with sensors built into jewelry for communication alerts and emergency alarms.
“Obtrusive wearables already on the market, like smart glasses, are likely to develop new designs that disguise their technological components completely.”
Gartner has additionally forecast that by 2018 more than 25 million head-mounted displays (HMDs) will have been sold as immersive devices, with virtual worlds transitioning “from the fringe to the mainstream”.
Brian Blau, Gartner research director, observed HMDs are “more popular in 2014 than at any point in the past”.
“Prior to 2014, HMDs were mainly found in specialty applications, such as industrial design or military training and simulation, where HMD technology is well-developed,” Blau commented. “However, even with a long history of HMD development, broad adoption in the consumer market has yet to take hold.
“That situation will change as soon as HMDs are offered as stylish, consumer-grade video eyeglasses. This will eventually drive adoption when paired with compelling virtual worlds and augmented real-world content.”
Gartner expects HMD technology to have a “different and slower trajectory” over the next few years compared to the fast adoption seen with the introduction of smartphones, with take-up to accelerate when “users increasingly experience compelling, immersive worlds offered by well-made VR and AR apps through their headsets”.
Meanwhile, by 2016 biometric sensors will feature in 40 per cent of smartphones shipped to end-users, with Gartner forecasting fingerprint scanning will be the primary biometric feature introduced by most vendors.
Other biometrics, such as facial, iris, voice and palm vein authentication, are also expected to emerge, however will remain relatively niche.
Wearables will also feature biometrics as coupling devices to smartphones, Gartner stated, however will mostly obtain the biometric information to be passed onto the smartphone where the intelligence and authentication take place.
Signalling the shift to new technologies and a move away from PCs, Gartner has additionally forecast that through to 2017 one third of consumers in emerging markets will have never owned a Windows device.
“In mature markets, the PC is part of the device ecosystem for mainstream consumers who use multiple devices, depending on where they are and what they do,” commented Gartner principal research analyst Mikako Kitagawa.Kitagawa stated that in emerging markets, consumers’ first web-connected devices are often “a basic phone with some browser capability”.
Kitagawa noted next-stage purchases may involve a larger-screen device with better viewing and better functionality, with the most likely device choice to be a phablet or tablet, not a PC, because of a “familiarity with touchscreen input, interface and device mobility”.