15 Essential Factors To Consider When Developing Wearable Technology

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Wearable technology, from smartwatches to virtual reality headsets, is growing in popularity, and many companies are producing new hardware and software to capture the momentum. The broad potential of the space makes it attractive, but it’s essential not to rush to market without a well-considered plan.  Designing wearable hardware and […]

Wearable technology, from smartwatches to virtual reality headsets, is growing in popularity, and many companies are producing new hardware and software to capture the momentum. The broad potential of the space makes it attractive, but it’s essential not to rush to market without a well-considered plan. 

Designing wearable hardware and software comes with both unique challenges and familiar issues that apply to every new tech project. Below, 15 industry experts from Forbes Technology Council share essential factors for companies to consider when developing wearable technology.

1. The Constraints Of Wearables

Avoid applying the same mindset that drives mobile app development to wearables. Wearables—including smartwatches, fitness trackers, augmented reality glasses and others—fit a narrower set of use cases than smartphones, which makes the “less is more” principle more important. There is typically less screen estate, a shorter battery life and less tolerance for distraction. Make sure your product roadmap reflects these constraints. – Alex Kalinovsky, AgileEngine LLC

2. Hardware Paradigms And Attack Surfaces

Wearable apps are subject to many of the same cybersecurity flaws and risks as legacy applications. New hardware paradigms and attack surfaces should be considered alongside the secure development of wearable apps. Threat modeling is a great place to start when undertaking a new endeavor as it can help you identify the unique characteristics of new technology solutions. – Matthew Sharp, Logicworks


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3. Data Privacy

Don’t ignore cyberthreats or forget that wearable devices and their associated apps are all part of an expanding threat surface. Threat actors have proven that they are adept at using anything connected to the internet to compromise networks and data. App development companies need to pay attention to data privacy and develop effective security measures to protect users’ personal and biological data. – Ashley Rose, Living Security

4. User Control Of Collected Data

Minimizing the emphasis on user privacy—even a little bit—when designing a wearable app is possibly the costliest mistake, and it’s one that is very difficult to set right later on. Make sure sufficient trust is built with users by ensuring that nothing beyond what is absolutely necessary gets tracked and that everything that is tracked in a history remains transparent, anonymized and selectively erasable. – Pramod Konandur Prabhakar, Pelatro PLC

5. Analysis Of Generated Data

Wearable technology is no longer just about the device or app. Developers need to consider the analysis of the data generated by such devices and provide valuable, meaningful outputs that bring real and tangible value to users. – Renaldo Arciola, Fonicom

6. Wearable Dimensions And Use Cases

Simply replicating the functionality of an app that’s meant to work best on a smartphone is a common mistake when it comes to developing wearable apps. The real estate limitations and different use cases of a wearable—such as instant, useful, actionable information at a glance—demand a stand-alone approach. – Ravi Teja Bommireddipalli, Robosoft Technologies

7. Signal Strength

Don’t overlook the ways miniaturization can affect signal strength. Radio and antenna integration is challenging in mobile devices such as laptops and smartphones. Given the smaller form factor of wearable devices, these challenges are taken a notch higher. Effective integration of multiple antennae with reasonable signal strengths needs to be kept in mind. – Vivek Ahuja, rSTAR Technologies LLC

8. Ease Of Wearing And Use

Many companies turn to wearable technology for safety reasons. Techs may be working alone or remotely or in potentially dangerous environments, and they need to have a nondisruptive experience. As such, it’s important that the wearable isn’t physically cumbersome and that it easily integrates with existing systems so a field worker isn’t spending too much time manipulating a dedicated device. – Thomas Cottereau, SightCall

9. Your Product’s Differentiator

Making a wearable app that is like other apps already available is probably the biggest mistake. It is necessary to stand out in your niche. Does your app attract a different audience or solve a different problem? Is your marketing unique? Does your product change the way people use wearables? There must be a unique differentiator that will make your app stand out rather than fade as one of many in the crowd. – Ritesh Mukherjee, Inseego

10. The Product’s End Goal

When bringing a new wearable app to market, considering the end goal of the product is critical to getting it in the hands of consumers. Different applications can open various pathways for businesses to consider. Augmented reality/virtual reality goggles, which have applications ranging from education to gaming, are one example where thinking critically about how the product will be used will help guide successful product development. – Jeff Wong, EY

11. The Full Community Of Users

The development team should represent the broader community of potential customers to avoid initial failures of products. For example, fitness monitors including the Apple Watch have reportedly failed to accurately monitor the heart rates of people with darker skin. Diversity matters when developing something for a diverse customer base. – UB Ciminieri, interviewIA

12. Hardware Forms And Fashion Trends

A wearable app must function well with the physical form to which it is attached. Development should include the study of anatomy and human behavior, including movement monitoring. Similarly, if it’s outside the body, make sure that it compliments and/or blends with current fashion trends. It sounds silly, but the Hermes band option was what finally got me to purchase an Apple Watch. – Meagan Bowman, STOPWATCH

13. Navigability

Wearable apps and devices should be designed to optimize usability and functionality for consumers. Failing to create an easily navigable infrastructure can lead to inefficiencies, and confusion around functionality and design (such as having a complicated user interface or customizations) can ultimately diminish the customer experience by not addressing key pain points or necessities. Build for purpose, not features. – Jim Xiao, Mason

14. Responsiveness Of The UI

The best wearable apps don’t just provide information but also help you navigate through your day. A well-thought-out UI that is responsive to both touch and gesture inputs allows users to move from one screen to another without slowdowns or disruptions to their workflow. A well-designed UI efficiently provides information and transforms it into a new screen when needed. – John Giordani, NCheng LLP

15. The Potential Market

Wearable apps are a dime a dozen, so make sure your wearable app has a large enough market and that its unique features have been tested in a beta market comprising more than just your friends and family. For example, does the average person want to wear a headband app? How big is the market for something that’s worn around your forehead in public? – Cherie Kloss, SnapNurse

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