Tag Archives: wearable

An $18 billion wearables enterprise market

Analysts at ABI Research confirm that wearable device technologies will become an integral part of enterprise mobile enablement strategies – increasing at an impressive CAGR value of 56.1% over the next five years.

As expected, the North American region will be the largest, growing at a CAGR value of 39% over the next five years. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region is slated to become the second largest market, outpacing Europe by 2019 with a CAGR of 90%.

“There are cases being made for wearables in the enterprise despite the relative newness of the technology. However, which wearables are primed for enterprise usage and adoption is a more important question,” senior ABI Research enterprise analyst Jason McNicol explains.

“Wearable technology such as smart glasses and those used for healthcare are better suited for the enterprise as corporate-liable devices. Smartwatches, on the other hand, will most likely follow the trend of BYOD into the enterprise.”

More specifically, ABI Research has identified six types of wearable devices: smart glasses, cameras, smart watches, healthcare, sports and activity trackers and 3D motion trackers. Healthcare wearables, smart glasses and smart watches will be the dominant form-factors purchased by the enterprise and used by employees.

“Like any digital device supporting the enterprise, wearables will need to be secured and managed,” ABI practice director Dan Shey adds.

“Wearable use cases in field services, maintenance, training, etc., highlight the need for enterprise mobility management providers, mobile operators, enterprise application and platform vendors, system integrators, device OEMs and other enterprise mobile suppliers to add services to support wearables. Enterprise connectivity continues at a rapid pace and its benefits are only achieved when end-to-end solutions – including security and management services – support the devices and connections.”

It should be noted that ABI Research expects a total of 90 million wearable devices to ship in 2014 across multiple markets. As senior analyst Joshua Flood notes, wearable tech will be characterized by a diversity of products, although only those with clear use-cases and target audiences are likely to succeed.

“[2014] will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices. Healthcare and sports and activity trackers are rapidly becoming mass-market products,” the analyst says.

“On the flipside, wearable devices like smart watches need to overcome some critical obstacles. Aesthetic design, more compelling use cases, battery life and lower price points are the main inhibitors. How vendors approach these challenges and their respective solutions will affect the wearable market far in the future.”

According to Flood, chipset vendors are beginning to pave the way with interesting wearable reference designs that will allow non-technology OEMs and brands to quickly jump upon the wearable device bandwagon and offer diverse, innovative, unique and stylish solutions.

“While smart glasses could be the starting point moving away from today’s touchscreen smartphones to eyewear devices using a voice interface, pricing, battery life and style will all play crucial roles for market traction,” he continues.

“Due to these limitations, the enterprise sector will be the early target for smart glasses before they are ready for mass-market adoption. [We] expect more than two million smart glasses [to] ship in 2014, [with] the category forecast to grow rapidly from 2015 onwards. Mobile enabling technologies like augmented reality will play a vital part in enhancing smart glass capabilities.”

Indeed, smart glasses and smart watches will account for a relatively small segment of the wearable device market in 2014, with medical, wellness and sports and activity wearable devices expected to provide the bulk of wearable device shipments this year.

“Activity trackers will continue to be the most popular wearable device as people carefully monitor their activity levels and energy output,” Flood concludes. “Concerns around weight management and even obesity are the prime drivers behind this wearable device type. The collection and analysis of the captured personal performance data through associated websites and their communities is also a crucial element in building out the use-case.”

Open Electronics talks Adafruit’s FLORA (ATmega32u4)

Writing about wearable technology for Open Electronics, Alessio Biancalana highlights Adafruit’s FLORA, a popular platform powered by Atmel’s versatile Atmega32u4 microcontroller (MCU).

“Adafruit released more than 100 tutorials and over 25 libraries for the Arduino IDE, so they [ultimately] decided to produce their own wearable platform. The cool aspect about FLORA is that this tiny [platform] is fully compatible with Arduino, so no matter the operating system you will immediately be able to bootstrap your wearable startup,” Alessio explains.

“If you have the Arduino IDE installed on your computer, and if you know how to develop software for the original Arduino – and this is awesome, because as you know in an open ecosystem the knowledge reuse is on of the most important things.”

As Biancalana points out, FLORA boasts an on-board regulator, making the platform extremely beginner friendly.

“[It also] has four LEDs: power good, digital signal LED for bootloader feedback, data rx/tx. If we are power users, we can reprogram it all thanks to a ICSP controller; we have 14 sewing tap pads for electrical connections and attachments,” he says.

“[Makers] can expand [the] board to create even more powerful wearables, or maintain easy access to the controller so [it] can be hacked in many ways, growing a strong community around [the] hardware.”

Interested in learning more about Adafruit’s Atmel-powered FLORA? You can check out the platform’s official page on Adafruit here, read about Becky Stern’s “Make: Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA” here and browse our FLORA project archives here.

Atmel is the No. 1 supplier of sensor hubs

Analysts at IHS have confirmed that Atmel was the number one supplier of sensor hubs in 2013 – clinching an impressive 32 percent of total industry shipments.

In 2014, worldwide shipments of sensor hubs are expected to reach a projected 658.4 million units, up 154 percent from 259.6 million units last year.

As senior IHS analyst Marwan Boustany notes, the market has been “on a tear” since 2011, when shipments first started from a low initial base.

Indeed, the 2012 growth rate exceeded a staggering 2,000 percent, with the market pegged to increase 1,300 percent to shipments of 1.3 billion units by 2017.

“The centralized processing in a sensor hub is typically achieved via three different approaches, each with its own advantages along with specific tradeoffs in cost or performance,” Boustany explained.

“One approach employs an external hub, typically a dedicated microcontroller (MCU), as offered by the likes of chip makers such as Atmel.”

According to senior IHS analyst Tom Hackenberg, the MCU approach will be the best-performing, most flexible solution for high-end handsets and tablets for several development generations to come.

“In whatever format, low-power sensor hubs are absolutely critical to supporting the expansion of sensors and other low-power capabilities in mobile and other applications, such as wearable electronics,” Hackenberg added.

SquareWear 2.0 is powered by Atmel’s ATmega328 MCU

Designed by Rayshobby Shop, SquareWear 2.0 is an open-source, Atmel-based wearable microcontroller board. The board – which runs at at 3.3V and 12MHz – is equipped with large pin holes to allow conductive thread to be stitched through. Of course, Makers can also solder wires directly, or solder snaps for quick attachment and detachment from textiles.

Aside from the Atmel’s ATmega328 MCU (pre-flashed with USBasp bootloader), the device includes an on-board mini-USB port (for programming, charging and serial comms), a color LED, a general-purpose push-button, a buzzer, a light sensor, a temperature sensor and three MOSFETs to drive high-current load.

In addition, the board features a built-in rechargeable lithium coin battery, allowing Makers to power their projects right away without external power supply. Indeed, the coin battery is charged automatically every time the mini-USB cable is plugged in. Makers who want a higher-capacity battery can also plug in an external lithium battery via an on-board battery jack, which is capable of charging either the coin battery or external battery.

Interestingly, SquareWear is not designed with a separate USB-to-serial chip. Rather, the board simulates USB functionality all in software via a V-USB library. To be sure, the platform is loaded with a USBasp bootloader and is capable of performing serial communication via USB. As expected, it can also simulate a mouse, keyboard, or other human interface devices.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the SquareWear’s (2.0) official product page here.

And the Wearables Challenge winner is…

element14 has chosen two winners from eight global finalists as part of its “Get Closer” Wearables Challenge. The contest challenged engineers, hobbyists and Makers to design a wearable project using Adafruit’s Atmel-powered FLORA. The two winners, announced earlier this week, developed a unique LED umbrella and ColorCam based on Adafruit’s versatile platform.

The LED umbrella – equipped with LED neopixel strips that change color – was submitted by Leslie Birch of Philadelphia. It features three modes: color match, which uses a color sensor to match colors; a rainbow display; and a simulated rainfall.

Meanwhile, Linda Kaspers of The Netherlands created the ColorCam to help teach children colors. When the user takes a picture of any one of Linda’s felt pictures, they are given three color choices on the back of the camera.

As shown in the video above, one of the choices is the matching color, with a series of green lights appearing if the correct color is selected.

Other notable projects included a navigation glove, a family of suites comprised of colored strobe LED lights and a GPS-equipped hat showing neopixel displays based on checked-in locations.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Adafruit’s wearable electronics platform is powered by Atmel’s popular Atmega32u4 microcontroller (MCU). The device boasts built-in USB support, eliminating the need for pesky special cables and extra parts.

Unsurprisingly, numerous Makers are currently using Adafruit’s FLORA to design a wide range of creations. The wearables trend isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon, either. According to element14, clothing capable of recognizing and relaying the user’s location, environment or status is quickly ushering in a new generation of industrial applications and personal platforms.

Lüme: Wearable fashion with the ATMega32u4

Lüme is an electronically infused clothing collection that stylishly integrates dynamic, custom elements driven from a mobile phone.

Built around Atmel’s versatile ATMega32u4, the design and engineering of the collection is focused on the integration of electronics in such a way that the components can be easily removed and embedded – creating pieces which are easy to wash and maintain.

“The initial objective for the collection was to create a series of garments that could adapt to the users daily life, changing in color depending on the event, location, mood, or even just to match another garment or accessory,” Lüme Collection  staff explained in a recent blog post.

“The garments also can respond to sound, if the user [chooses] to select this option within the phone application. The laser cut piece within each garment can also be customized, to another pattern (other than damask pattern), such as polka dots, flowers, lines, etc.”

The Lüme Collection illustrates how Atmel’s versatile MCUs are positioned in the center of the rapidly evolving wearable tech revolution. First off, our SAM4S and tinyAVR MCUs are inside the Agent smart-watch which recently became a Kickstarter success. Atmel MCUs have also tipped up in a number of Maker projects for wearable tech, such as the LED pocket watch we featured earlier this year, as well as Adafruit’s popular wearable Flora, Gemma and Trinket platforms.

Clearly, wearable tech is getting a long overdue makeover, as Internet-linked computers are deftly woven into formerly brainless attire such as glasses, bracelets and shoes.

“We are heading for the wearable computing era,” Gartner analyst Van Baker told the AFP. “People are going to be walking around with personal area networks on their bodies and have multiple devices that talk to each other and the Web.”

Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at NPD, expressed similar sentiments.

“Traditional technology companies will have to start paying attention to how sensors are enabling us to live… Consumers are ultimately going to become more aware of their data in the digital ether. I suspect wearables are going to disrupt the way tech firms are doing business now.”

Building a pseudo-theremin with Atmel and Adafruit

The theremin, originally known as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox, is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact by the thereminist (performer). According to Wikipedia, the instrument is named after the westernized name of its Russian inventor, Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928.

Inspired by the musical instrument, the Adafruit crew went ahead and designed a pseudo-theremin built around an Atmel-powered Arduino Uno (ATmega328) – combining the board with a light-sensitive cadmium sulfide (CdS) photocell to make a light responsive music machine.

The original pseudo-theremin project was recently updated by Mike Barela, who swapped the Uno for the Atmel-powered Trinket or Gemma.

“Changes in light intensity on the photocell will change the pitch of a note on the piezo speaker as you wave your hand in front of the cell,” Barela explained. “While not a true theremin (which uses changes in a circuit’s reactance), this project is much simpler to build.”

As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the Gemma is a tiny wearable platform board packed in a 1″ diameter package. The device – powered by Atmel’s versatile Attiny85 – is easily programmable with an Arduino IDE over USB. Similarly, Adafruit’s Trinket, a tiny microcontroller board, is also built around Atmel’s ATtiny85.

Wireless smart watch launches on Kickstarter

Pebble may have caused a splash in the watch-tech space, but Secret Labs and the House of Horology are about to make an even bigger one, with the Agent smart-watch.


Kicking off on Kickstarter today, the campaign promises to bring together a “fusion of New York fashion and cutting edge technology.” But of course, it would say that, wouldn’t it?

So, cutting through the hype, what’s actually cool about it?

The first thing that stood out to me, was the wireless charging aspect. That’s a big differentiator that sets the Agent apart from the competition, because it means the watch doesn’t have a USB port on it, allowing it to be properly waterproof.

As someone who already wrecked my Nike Fuelband in the pool (what the hell is the difference between “water resistant” and “water proof” anyway?!) this is kind of a big deal! Also… wireless charging! Nikola Tesla would be glowing with pride! We keep saying we live in a wireless world, so it’s about time we had the products to back up the notion.


I also like the fact that it’s cell phone agnostic, so whether you have an iPhone, Android, or Windows Phone, you can still connect to the device via Bluetooth. Because who wants to be locked into a phone just because you have a neat watch? (I’m naming no names, you know who I’m talking about!)

Agent does all the usual things you’d expect from a smart watch; it notifies you when you receive a call, beeps at you if it realizes you’ve left your phone behind (can anyone say “attachment issues”?), allows you to add all kinds of apps, like the weather, or GPS features. And of course the watch comes in a plethora of colors, so you can be ever so subtly different (from every eighth person who owns it).

It’s the innards of the watch, however, that I think are particularly compelling. Mostly because it makes pretty excellent use of battery resources by using both an Atmel Cortex-M4 (ARM A4 processor) micro with a smaller helper micro. The faster Cortex processor runs powerful watch apps while the smaller micro takes care of housekeeping services. Power when you need it, power saving when you don’t. Which is the whole point of a “smart” watch.

The dual-bank flash also makes sure that firmware gets upgraded painlessly without ever leaving the watch in a “bricked” condition, and it also apparently boasts “redundant fail-safe recovery modes” and “independent hardware-based reset features” to ensure that misbehaving apps can’t turn the watch into a nice looking paperweight.

Because make no mistake, it is nice looking.


The display is probably the nicest feature, and to my mind is the crispest to date for a smart watch. It also doesn’t look quite as bulky as some other digital timepieces I’ve seen on Kickstarter.

Keeping with the low energy theme, the Agent watch also supports both classic and low energy Bluetooth and sports a rechargeable battery that can be eventually replaced.


Best of all, in my mind? It’s assembled right here in the great US of A, which the team claims will significantly speed time to market, reduce manufacturing risk and allow them to be super duper nitpicky about build standards. Not to mention it allows them to create jobs here in America, which is always a good thing. Dare I suggest… it’s about time!

If the Kickstarter goes according to plan, full production is slated to begin in December of this year. Sound good? Go on over to the project page and check out the specifics.