Tag Archives: forrester

Wearable sweat sensors provide real-time analysis of the body

UC Berkeley engineers have developed new wearable sensors that can measure skin temperature, as well as glucose, lactate, sodium and potassium in sweat.

As it turns out, future wearable devices may not be as interested in your activities, as they are the sweat produced during them. That’s because engineers at UC Berkeley have developed a flexible sensor system capable of measuring metabolites and electrolytes in sweat and sending the results to a smartphone in real-time.


According to researchers, these bendable plastic patches can be easily implemented into bands for the wrist and head, and provide early warnings to health problems such as fatigue and dangerously high temperatures.

“Human sweat contains physiologically rich information, thus making it an attractive body fluid for non-invasive wearable sensors,” explained Ali Javey, a UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences.

The prototype consists of five sensors and a flexible circuit with (what would appear to be an Atmel) MCU and a Bluetooth transceiver. This board measures the concentration of various chemicals in sweat and skin temperature, calibrates the information and then sends it over to its accompanying mobile app.


To test their proof-of-concept, the engineers put the device and more than two dozen volunteers through various indoor and outdoor exercises, such as riding stationary bikes and running trails. In doing so, the team kept tabs on sodium, potassium, glucose and lactate. Monitoring electrolytes like sodium and potassium may help track conditions,  and can ultimately be utilized to assess a user’s state of health.

“When studying the effects of exercise on human physiology, we typically take blood samples. With this non-invasive technology, someday it may be possible to know what’s going on physiologically without needle sticks or attaching little, disposable cups on you,” added physiologist George Brooks, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology.

Intrigued? Learn all about the wearable sweat sensor here, or watch the team’s video below!

Report: 2015 is expected to be a breakout year for wearables

We’re just weeks away from a breakout year for wearables, new research from Forrester has revealed.


“In 2015, wearables will hit mass market,” Forrester’s JP Gownder writes in the company’s most recent blog post. “With Apple’s much-anticipated Apple Watch slated for release early next year, the already hype-heavy conversation will reach new heights.”

The research firm joins other tech industry analysts in proclaiming 2015 as the pivotal year for wearable technology. If you recall, back in October, Gartner named the wearable space among the top strategic trends IT managers will have to contend with next year, along with big data and the burgeoning Internet of Things.

In its report, entitled “Five Urgent Truths About The Future Of Wearables That Every Leader Should Know,” Forrester expects the number of people using a wearable computer will triple in 2015, led by the highly-anticipated arrival of Apple Watch that is projected to draw 10 million users next year.

The study, which examined thousands of consumers in both U.S. and Europe, suggests more Americans (45%) can see themselves donning wearables than their European counterparts (32%).


“While wearables have indeed suffered from a hype bubble, demand for them is real. Yes, Nike’s walking away from Fuel Band, but Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and Salesforce.com all are making major commitments to the market.”

As to where consumers will likely adorn their bodies with wearable computers, many cite their wrists, clothes, shoes, ears and eyes as key areas. The report notes that the wrist appeals to over a third (42%) of consumers in both the U.S and Europe — even before the arrival of Apple’s latest device. This compared to 28% of adults last year. Gartner believes this may be a result of companies Fitbit, Samsung, Pebble, Jawbone and others that have begun educating the market about wrist-based wearables.

Meanwhile, smart garments — wearables embedded in, or clipped onto, clothing and shoes — show under-appreciated interest. In fact, fellow research firm Gartner believes the emergence of less invasive devices, particularly e-textiles will potentially disrupt the wearables space. So much so that embedded attire shipments will rise from a mere 0.1 million units in 2014 to 26 million units in 2016.

“Ralph Lauren debuted its Polo Tech smart shirt with OMSignal’s technology at the US Open, while Ducere’s Lechal uses haptic feedback to create screen-free GPS in smart shoes,” Gownder exemplifies.

Furthermore, smart earbuds, headphones and smart glasses are expected to rise in popularity. 43% of online U.S. adults have shared that they might be interested in intelligent eyewear, i.e. Google Glass, “if the price were right.”

The report also goes on to show that 10% of U.S. online adults say they’ve already used a wearable device, like a fitness tracker. However, it appears that figure will surely to rise, as nearly half (45%) of these adult consumers say they agree with the statement, “I am intrigued by the prospect of getting a wearable device.”


“And, while strong consumer interest exists for wearable devices, a bigger driver of demand is coming from businesses looking to supply employees with all types of new body gadgetry,” Reuters reports.

Take for instance, a recent Kronos and Harris poll found that 73% of workers believe that wearable technology can enhance their work environment and productivity in some way. Meanwhile, over two-thirds (68%) of business decision-makers polled by Forrester cited developing a wearables strategy for their business was now a priority.

“The wearable market will take off as brands, retailers, sports stadiums, healthcare companies, and others develop new business models to take advantage of wearables,” Gowdner urges.

Throughout the upcoming watershed year, we can expect to see the emergence of wearables to monitor the safety field workers, location-aware smartwatches to assist managers assign shift workers in real-time and video, as well as photo devices that augment the human insights of technical inspectors.

The research firm also anticipates that wearable devices will become increasingly collaborating, demonstrating how Thalmic Labs’ Myo gesture-controller armband could complement Google Glass, for example.

Interested in learning more? Gain deeper insight into each of the five urgent truths by downloading Forrester’s official report here.


How 3D printing expands digital disruption

Forrester analyst Michael Yamnitsky has identified three key ways in which 3D printing is driving business impact and digital disruption.

Firstly, 3D printing enables key business imperatives in the age of the customer: faster time to market, new products and new markets, as well as the expansion of personalized products or services.

“For those of you who tuned into the recent Super Bowl, Nike leveraged the geometric precision of 3D printing to minimize the friction on the field that slows athletes down [with custom made cleats], streamlining the prototyping and manufacturing of a small batch of finished products from years to months,” Yamnitsky explained in a recent Forrester blog post.

Secondly, 3D printing expands the reach of digital disruption, with the end-to-end digital process of 3D printing reshaping elements of production and the role of business technology. More specifically, it enables flexibility and transformation in the early stages of the product sequence.

“3D printing makes it easier and faster to change features on the fly, giving much greater flexibility to the supply chain within a factory or across a continent; changes in components and subassemblies can be made at the speed of the Internet,” said Yamnitsky.

“[Plus, 3D printing] drives digitization much deeper into manufacturing, creating greater visibility and control. 3D print processes are natively digital, with every element under the continuous control of software. Look for developments such as embedded digital serial numbers in every part, full part history and traceability, [as well as] a recentralization of manufacturing supply chains as labor costs become less of a factor for factory location.”

Last, but certainly not least, 3D printing, when properly coupled with the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital data platforms, is capable of disrupting entire value chains.

“It’s the underpinnings of a truly ‘software-driven’ business model, in which every aspect of a physical product — from creation to delivery — is digitally controlled,” Yamnitsky concluded.

“Business models that eliminate analog layers and constituents, [while] blurring the lies between physical processes and native digital control will have huge impact.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the lucrative 3D printing market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 23% from 2013 to 2020, ultimately reaching $8.41 billion in 2020. The rapid growth is attributed to a wide range of diverse factors including innovative and advanced technologies, customized products, government funding, a wide unexploited app space and rapid development of products.

Do wearables require a new kind of ecosystem?

Forrester analyst JP Gownder says tech companies must create a new type of ecosystem for wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT). However, this ecosystem shouldn’t necessarily focus on developers, hardware makers or service companies.

Image Credit: Adafruit (Atmel-powered Gemma)

Rather, Gownder believes it should prioritize brands, healthcare providers, retailers, financial services companies and governments.

“Let’s be honest: A lot of 1.0 wearables devices are ugly, and tech companies aren’t always the best purveyors of fashion,” Gownder writes in a recent blog post. 

”The wristwatch has been around since 1571 – so watches have a deep cultural history into which smartwatches must integrate themselves. Partnerships between wearable vendors and fashion brands [sic] will be critical.”

Similarly, says Gownder, health and fitness wearables must become embedded in the normative healthcare system.

“Having doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and corporate wellness programs distribute fitness wearables embeds the information collected into the entire healthcare system,” he continues. 

”Doctors can use the data to treat patients, leading to better health outcomes. And consumers can sometimes receive a discount on their health insurance rates by participating.”

Last, but certainly not least, Gownder envisions a retail future where a wearable device owner walks into a store, is greeted by name and offered customized clothing options in his or her own size.

“Yet, this entire wearable scenario depends on adoption of the technology by retailers,” he emphasizes.

However, Gownder remains understandably optimistic about wearables, noting earlier this week in an InformationWeek article that the rapidly evolving technology represents the next logical step in the mobile revolution.

“If done right – with vigorous ecosystems of brands, retailers, healthcare providers, and even governments tapping into their value – wearables will create more efficient and seamless experiences for wearers,” he concludes.

“As consumers discover the value of wearables, technology managers can expect to see employees bringing smartwatches, smartglasses and other wearables into the workplace. For some of these wearables, existing practices for smartphones and tablets (like the use of mobile device management services) can be adjusted to accommodate new wearable devices.”

Wearables are the new mobile revolution

Writing for InformationWeek, Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder confirms that wearable devices represent the next logical step in the mobile revolution.

“If done right – with vigorous ecosystems of brands, retailers, healthcare providers, and even governments tapping into their value – wearables will create more efficient and seamless experiences for wearers,” he explains.

“Many of these wearable scenarios will come about through a surprising channel – the enterprise. While most of the world focuses on consumer wearables, enterprises might offer an even bigger opportunity. Over the next few years, companies will experiment with wearables in both customer-facing and back-end work scenarios.”

More specifically, Gownder outlines 7 ways wearables will enter the enterprise:

  • Via healthcare
Through innovative in-store experiences
Helping field service workers become more productive
  • Revolutionizing warehousing and logistics
Keeping tabs on employee collaboration
  • Customer-oriented brand rewards
  • BYOD

“While company-purchased devices will play an important role in many of the scenarios mentioned above, the power of bring your own device (BYOD) hasn’t waned,” Gownder adds.

“As consumers discover the value of wearables, technology managers can expect to see employees bringing smartwatches, smartglasses and other wearables into the workplace. For some of these wearables, existing practices for smartphones and tablets (like the use of mobile device management services) can be adjusted to accommodate new wearable devices.”

Forrester explains Wearables 2.0

Forrester analyst JP Gownder says wearable devices will ultimately change the way workers do their jobs and how consumers manage their lives.

“Every day (and surely this week), I talk to inventors, entrepreneurs and established vendors entering the wearables space. The dynamism I encounter in this space reminds me of the early days of the Web in the late 90s,” Gownder writes in a recent blog post.

“Of course many wearable computing concepts and executions will fail, as is true with any new technology movement. [However], Wearables 2.0 will weed out some of these false starts and focus on three success factors.”

First, says the analyst, companies must develop more comprehensive business paradigms. Indeed, if Wearables 1.0 was about creating technologies, Wearables 2.0 is all about crafting rich business models.

Next up is finding a way to continue working within existing institutions.

“Selling fitness wearables to consumers one on one through retail channels might have its merits for dedicated exercise enthusiasts, quantified selfers and those who want to lose weight,” Gownder explains.

“But having doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and corporate wellness programs distribute fitness wearables embeds the information collected into the entire healthcare system… [Clearly], Wearables 2.0 will intersect with the existing institutions of your life in useful ways.”

Last, but certainly not least is creating enterprise value.

“Because of consumerization – the fact that the technology we have at home is often better, faster-moving, more agile, more mobile, etc. than the tech we are issued at work – we tend to assume now that *all* innovation will originate on the consumer side,” he adds.

“Wearables 2.0 will upend that a bit, because the most useful enterprise devices are often highly specialized. Wearables 2.0 will help enterprises provide value to their customers – a key technology benefit in the age of the customer.”

Forrester sees a bright future for wearables

Forrester analyst JP Gownder says wearables are just taking off and have a bright future ahead of them.

“Sure, wearables are facing a hype bubble. So did the Internet; that didn’t make it any less significant in the long run,” Gownder opined in a recent blog post. 

“I’m impressed with the wide array of companies, entrepreneurs and agencies innovating in this space, which is really more of a long tail of different computing market segments.”

Image Credit: Adafruit (Atmel-powered Gemma)

According to the analyst, 2014 will see commercial availability of new wearable devices, a richer set of business models, the entry of bigger players (like Apple), and the maturation of business models. 

Specifically, Gownder emphasized that enterprise wearables have a particularly rich future ahead of them, often in customer-facing situations.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, wearables are expected to make a huge splash at CES 2014 this January in Las Vegas. Indeed, Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner, confirmed that digital health and fitness will be one of the hottest segments at CES 2014 – with 40 percent of exhibitor floor space expanded for the lucrative segment.

Atmel-powered Agent smart watch

To be sure, despite some of the inevitable hype surrounding wearables, the segments for fitness and personal health devices have been among the first to gain traction.

“Wearable electronics has its strongest consumer base among fitness enthusiasts and wider consumer interest in these devices is leading to broader adoption. The worldwide revenue from wearable electronic devices, apps and services for fitness and personal health is anticipated to be $1.6 billion this year, increasing to $5 billion by 2016,” McIntyre explained.

Image Credit: Adafruit

“[In addition], wearables support the ‘quantified self’ trend of people tracking their vital signs, activities, and capturing images of what they experience during the day. The fun of wearing and using gadgets to track fitness and health is appealing, and so is using their apps and services. Online communities provide camaraderie with those having similar goals, [with] wearable electronics providing new motivation to consumers for improving fitness and health.”

It should also be noted that analysts at ABI Research see wearable wireless device revenues exceeding approximately $6 billion in 2018. Of the four segments tracked, sports, fitness and wellness are the largest, never dropping below 50% share of all device shipments over the forecast period.

Interested in learning more about wearable tech? You can check out Atmel’s white paper on the subject here.

Wearable tech redefines traditional retail

Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy confirms that smart, wearable technology is fast becoming mainstream.

“In the past week alone, I’ve heard about devices that can improve your tennis swing, improve your posture, sense your presence, and generate energy from walking — not to mention the new smart watches, handheld 3D printers that can draw bones, smart breathalyzers, and, of course (!) smart wigs,” Sheedy wrote in a recent blog post.

“These devices are starting to find their way into the hands of consumers, but much of the retail channel has yet to catch up. Smart locks, smart wearables, and smart fitness devices are all generally being sold through the traditional online and offline channels for electronics and devices; sports stores, clothing retailers, and home hardware stores have been slow on the uptake.”

According to Sheedy, the US has already seen some electronics retailers (such as Best Buy) significantly expand their “smart wearables” section from a small pod to an entire aisle or even a dedicated corner or section of the store. However, many sports stores have not even started carrying the latest fitness tracking devices — something that should be in their sweet spot.

“So what is the future for traditional retailers around smarter wearables? My guess is that they will continue to be pushed to the sidelines over the next two to three years; electronics retailers will prosper at their expense and innovation in wearables will continue to happen elsewhere,” he continued.

“But eventually the traditional clothing retailers will begin to consolidate and innovate. Some large brands will buy the smaller device startups; others will launch their own lines of smart wearable clothing or devices. A large proportion of today’s standalone wearables will be integrated into traditional products.”

Sheedy also emphasized that traditional retailers who to fail to embrace the shift to smart wearables will continue to see their value and market share erode. As such, CIOs in retail should attempt to leverage the data ecosystem of wearable technologies.

“How can the data collected at the device or wearable level perhaps be integrated into the loyalty systems, or help to guide the customer experience strategy? What other internal or external data sources which might, if integrated with your own data, actually create a better outcome for the customer? [Retailers] need to determine a way to make the wearable technology experience better if purchased from [their] stores,” the analyst concluded.