Wearables are often quickly abandoned — what’s the solution?

Presented by Infineon

From Fitbits to Apple Watches, one in five Americans have a wearable clad on their wrists or shoved in a drawer somewhere. That said, while the wearable market has seen an uprise in sales due to the pandemic, consumers tend to ditch their connected device after a couple weeks of purchasing.

So, the big question for manufacturers is — How do you get consumers to stick with their wearables for the long term?

It’s no surprise that today’s consumers throw their money at the greatest and latest technology on the smart device market. Companies are riding this market-high by simply flinging products out to market in an attempt to see what sticks with the consumer. Texting, calling, and nutrition monitoring are all slowly becoming standard for today’s wearables, however only a handful of companies have been able to create this and also have it stick.

The path to getting these connective technologies to stick on consumers wrists for the long run first relies on figuring out what they want, which is seemingly an “all-in-one” wearable. In other words, consumers are more likely going to gravitate and stay with a smart device that has multiple functionalities.

Here are a few ways manufacturers can make this “all-in-one” solution happen on the backend to boost product capabilities and become a leader in the wearable market:

1. Embrace embedded sensors

Consumers are typically looking for wearables that aid in a healthier lifestyle. While some are simply for fashion, many are used for a specific reason. For example, medical wearables are typically used to help determine a patient’s vital signs while fitness trackers count calories and other nutritional aspects. No matter what kind of wearable is on your wrist, embedded sensors are at the core of this technology, allowing the wearable to seamlessly and connect individuals with the surrounding environment.

These embedded sensors are enabling complex interactions between people and devices, helping to enhance the consumer experience and make daily interactions with smart technology more natural. Manufacturers are running full force towards advancing these sensing components in order to bring these wearable technologies to life and offer users a sense of safety, productivity, and health incentives.

2. Improved hardware

Embracing embedded sensors and having the necessary hardware to hold these solutions go hand-in-hand — the reason being is it’s extremely difficult to hold multiple, compact sensors in a thin, small, and lightweight device. Integrating the multitude of embedded sensors for each new functionality presents a major design, power, and usability issue.

Manufacturers can overcome these hardware issues by incorporating advanced wireless and connectivity solutions like LoRa, NB-IoT, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), or even choosing an efficient microcontroller (MCU) for power management purposes.

3. Boost battery life

Battery life is a major pain point for most devices. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) or Lithium-ion polymer (Li-poly) is the conventional battery of choice by today’s manufacturers. In creating a “Swiss army knife” of wearables, power becomes a limiting factor. Li-ion or Li-poly batteries are not able to meet the power needs of these “all-in-one” wearables, meaning the batter dies quickly — which is a nonstarter for consumers.

A solution to this industry-wide battery issue could come from a technology such as energy harvesting through user-backed triboelectric charging. While the battery will still need to eventually be recharged, this type of technology can significantly extend the charge time.

A company that can design, produce, and mass market a successful multifaceted wearable with this “all-in-one” functionality will bring us one step closer to the convergence of the digital and physical world. The ability to achieve this nirvana will depend on high-value semiconductor circuitry from manufacturers, coupled with diverse IoT and machine learning applications.  Only then will we finally see alignment between the devices made with what consumers want, and as a result, a product that consumers will actually use long term.

Kim Lee is Senior Director, System Applications Engineering at Infineon Americas.

Greg Coogan is Business Development & Marketing- eSIM, eSE and Transport at Infineon Americas.

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