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Common standard key to boost wearables adoption

Posted: 07 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Mordor Intelligence? wearable? IoT? standard? supply chain?

The potential of wearables to shake the Internet of Things (IoT) space is tremendous. However, before that scenario can be realised, wearables must able to communicate with thousands and perhaps millions of different devices, in a manner that is safe and consistent with the intended purpose of the technology.

A wristband that tracks blood pressure, skin temperature and breathing rates, for example, might switch on the front porch lights and set the thermostat of your house as you pull into the driveway. The same wearable device might also detect that your blood pressure readings have been higher than usual during the past 48 hours and it sends an alert to your doctor.

While the scenario might seem a bit pie-in-the-sky, the technology for these applications already exists, and the commercial potential is huge. According to analyst firm Mordor Intelligence, wearable medical device revenues alone are expected to explode from $2.8 billion in 2014 to $8.3 billion in 2019.

Wearables

Supply chains/OEMs need common standards that would allow wearables to readily and seamlessly interact with each other and the many different device types that will eventually exist in the IoT space.

However, before wearables reach their potential, OEMs and their suppliers have things to do to get the supply chain ready.

A stumbling block to wearables' widespread adoption is a lack of common standards, which would allow wearables to readily and seamlessly interact with each other and the many different device types that will eventually exist in the IoT universe.

"The obvious statement is that standards will have to be there," said Clive Longbottom, an analyst for Quocirca. "The next obvious statement is just who is going to drive these standards and how strongly would they be adopted, anyway?"

The rise of a common standard

On a chip level, Bluetooth and ZigBee makers will obviously need to add command stacks to their devices in order to make wearables interoperable, but for the time being, no one knows what those command stacks will be. This is something "chipmakers need to be looking at," but suppliers and OEMs are hesitating, said Tilo Borchardt, head of projects for medical wearable OEM Getemed. "A lot of cost and development will be involved, but for the time being, it really is wait and see," Borchardt said. "The chipmakers are waiting to see what they need to develop."

A major headwind against the adoption of common standards for wearables in the industry is the reluctance of OEMs and suppliers themselves. Their value add is presently derived from proprietary systems and often have little incentive to adopt common standards for components that their competitors also make.

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