Could Wearables Become Fully Mainstream In The Future?

While many people dubbed 2014 as the "year of the wearable", it may take a little more time before these portable tools are seen on every employee in every workplace.

A new study from Juniper Research, reports Personnel Today, predicts that wearable tech will soon have its moment to shine, and that by 2016 sales will treble. By 2019, they estimate that the market will generate a staggering $53 billion in hardware revenue.

Wearables are still very much in their infancy, despite the release of Apple Watch in April helping to boost the profile of such gadgets. As well as being relatively new on the scene, they are still considered to be quite expensive investments.

In addition, the functions of wearable tech are still very limited, with most of them honing in on message sharing, GPS maps or health and fitness - the latter of which is currently the most popular use.

Juniper Research has also predicted that the healthcare sector will really impact the adoption figures of wearable tech, as the case for their use is more clear-cut than in other areas.

Many businesses are already beginning to use wearables as a way of promoting fitness amongst their workers. Healthy living comes with numerous benefits; for example, increased engagement at work which leads to a rise in productivity, and even helps organizations retain talented employees.

Dr Nick Summerton from Bluecrest Health Screening has warned that, despite wearables being a positive development, people must tread carefully. He says: "You can't use medicines until there's evidence that they work and the same needs to apply to apps too."

Vital considerations, such as the risk of data abuse and employee privacy, also need to be considered.

Over time, as more research takes place, the situation is likely to develop; wearables could become the norm, especially when it comes to boosting corporate wellbeing. Watch this space.

What Jobs Will Wearable Tech Create?

We often talk about which jobs are going to be taken from humans thanks to technological advancements; but what about the job opportunities that technology might also create?

A recent article on Cloud Tweak explored the wearable tech industry, noting that it brings a wealth of opportunities for both consumers and businesses. As well as making our lives easier, in many ways it will also make things more complicated, meaning that people with specialist skills will be in high demand.

The article features an infographic produced by Adecco USA, entitled '7 Wearable Technology Jobs That Will Change The World.' It includes the following statistics: 85% of business leaders think that wearable tech will become a net creator of jobs; and by 2022, experts predict a respective 15% and 22% growth for database administrator and software developer jobs.

So how will wearable tech change the world, and who will be behind it?

1. Cancer treatment

Calico and Google are developing a pill that colours cancer cells, along with a wearable device that kills them using nanoaprtical phoresis.

This tech will be built by hardware engineers, typically with an ME in electrical engineering, 'intuitive design ability' and earning around $110,650 per year. There will be around 76,360 of these professionals in the US.

2. Congestion in cities

BMW is working on a Remote Valet Parking assistant that will let users drop off their car before it then parks itself, all using their smart watch.

Some 302,150 AI programmers are building this type of technology, earning a mean annual wage of $82,690. This role requires a B.S in Computer Science and an in-depth knowledge of AI structures and algorithms.

3. Poor sales numbers

SalesForce is developing communication chips to put in consumers' smart watches, so that staff can detect data such as purchase history and offer recommendations for products they might be interested in.

Data security analysts will be in even greater demand, requiring a B.S in STEM discipline and qualifications relating to the security or technology industries. They can expect to earn around $91,600 per year.

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Spain’s Start Up Scene? Caliente…

Have you heard of Kim Dotcom? Me neither, until I went to the Challengers start-up event in Barcelona this week. The guy is a legend judging by the roar that came from the crowd when he loomed over us on a huge screen direct from New Zealand where he’s currently living/avoiding the US authorities for all sorts of data shenanigans (yep, his story is very interesting).  Kim is a German/Finnish internet entrepreneur and changed his name from Kim Schmitz to Kim Dotcom back in 2005 apparently because the internet had made him so much money, and I mean a LOT of money. Looking at the customized number-plates that he apparently owns from HACKER, MAFIA and STONED means that Kim won’t be invited to our Cognizant Community events this year but I did find his pitch provocative, thought provoking and a call to arms to transform digitally or else be slain. He is the start-up all others admire and start-ups are at the vanguard of the art of the possible. Their energy is infectious.

I credit my colleague Ben Pring who put this Economist article under my nose because it characterizes the explosion of start-ups as a “Cambrian Moment”. The idea has its roots in the history of the earth—so around 100 Million years ago give or take a decade of millennia, something amazing happened to life on Earth as life began to multiply and accelerate, leading to what is known as the Cambrian Explosion. The Economist argues that something similar is happening in our virtual, digital world today. We are witnessing an entrepreneurial explosion. And it’s not just in the valley. Digital start-ups are sprouting everywhere around Europe—just go and see how new, digital economies are kicking off in London, Berlin or Belfast and it’s been happening in Spain and in Barcelona for some time. I heard pitches from a fascinating raft of startups offering new products and services as well as the accelerators who offer the space and mentoring needed to succeed, and businesses like Cognizant that are looking to partner. I got talking to some fascinating entrepreneurs that say their “tribe” is becoming abstracted from their culture and see opportunities everywhere. So, while the cheap and ubiquitous building blocks for digital products and services are causing this explosion in startups, it’s also creating a rise of a new nomadic entrepreneur workforce.

I would strike a note of caution based on some of the pitches I heard. The phrase “peak startup” entered my head much in the same way “peak beard” has done for hipsters in London (the beard count was noticeably lower in Barcelona for a younger crowd too). Do we really need another snap-chat, social style service? Facebook is clearly seen as for older people i.e. those that are my age (what?!) and this is the big one, that Twitter has apparently peaked. But the majority of start-ups that were fascinating for me were those benefiting from the explosion in open API traffic which points towards the rise of the IoT (Internet of Things). This is the phenomenon I cover in the rise of our latest study, the smart product economy: I argue that the industry value chains and product eco-systems are beginning to break down, morph and shape into something new and interconnected—witness the connected car, connected health, connected home, connected life…the list goes on. Products and services will increasingly integrate together as firms co-opt and share product data and co-invest in product development. Some of the younger, fresher players from digital’s Cambrian age are fundamentally important in this process. Open APIs allow startups to catalyze a value chain with profound effects: just look at what the Spanish banks have done with their rapid innovation cycles, hackathons, and open APIs to plug in 3rd party solutions. No surprise to me that it’s a Spanish Bank BBVA that shows how to do this with open talent competitions that will showcase digital banking for the rest of us in the 21st century.

PS Barcelona’s Sonar Festival held the same week as Challengers is scaling significantly into a music and technology festival and Europe’s answer to South by South West in the US. At last, better than trailing over to Hannover in Germany for the annual IT show. And apparently the latest hot destination for any budding start-up? Lisbon.