Quora Question: The Future of Wearable Technology

wearable skintrack smart ring smartwatch
SkinTrack system transforms the skin on your arm into a touch interface that lets you do things you couldn't normally do with a smartwatch—like play Angry Birds. Future interfaces group

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Answer from Anand Sharma, founder & CEO of Gyroscope:

There is already a ton of data being tracked with the current generation of wearables. We load most of it into Gyroscope to visualize it in context and help you analyze it. Steps at this point are a largely solved problem, and heart rate is getting much better. Sleep is being roughly tracked for many people, though scientists still have very little understanding of what sleep is or why we need it. However, that just scratches the surface. There are tons of new data points that we're excited to start working with in the next few years.

New types of data. There are many things going on inside of your body that you have no conscious understanding of. Hydration or hunger have pretty clear sensations, so we can manage them every day and stay alive, but there are other more subtle things like glucose levels or cholesterol that we have little visibility into currently. I think in the future we will have much better tools to understand our inner workings.

Better resolution and accuracy. The quality of data that is being generated could be much higher, both in resolution and accuracy. Heart rate sensors, for example, are pretty decent in the current generation of devices, but still only check every few minutes and can very often have false readings. The insights we can derive from them are therefore still quite limited.

Measuring every single heart beat would allow calculating of HRV and other metrics that can reveal a lot about your physical and mental state.

Power sources. I'm not a big fan of the "wearable" buzzword. I think not everything important will be need to be "worn"—I have many devices that are in the house and I interact with daily but don't need to charge or maintain. Battery is a big concern, so in order to be useful and part of your daily routine, some alternate approaches are necessary.

My Fitbit Aria scale, for example, has some batteries that should last at least a year and I haven't had to think about that for a long time.

Sleep trackers and other things that are plugged into the wall are other examples.

I also have a Withings blood pressure monitor, which uses regular batteries. I don't walk around all day wearing it, but can check it occasionally. I don't think it is well enough designed, and the data is often unreliable, so I don't use it very often—but there is a lot of potential for these types of devices to provide valuable data.

I think we'll see a lot of growth in these types of devices. There are only so many parts of your body to wear things, and things you can keep charged every day, but plenty more space in your bedroom, bathroom or kitchen.

Separation of hardware and software. If every app creator had to also manufacture a phone, nothing would ever get done. If every website had to raise millions and construct a datacenter, that would not be very practical. There are advantages to being vertically integrated and owning the whole experience, but I think overall it is much more powerful to have open platforms.

I think there is a similar opportunity here, creating a great platform for user experiences on top of a layer of hardware and rich data that people have. This is what we're trying to do at Gyroscope, and I imagine will be more common in the coming years.

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Quora Question: The Future of Wearable Technology | Business