Mobile devices that were the disruptive technologies only ten years ago will be the platforms for a mix of trends set to begin new disruptions in 2020.
Some of these technologies will impact smartwatches as much as they will computers and smartphones.
In this article, we’ll consider five trends that will have the most influence over smartwatches next year.
AI and Medical Wearables
The healthcare industry has been undergoing a tech transformation which will continue into the 2020s.
Artificial intelligence and Big Data have come together to bring powerful new diagnostics tools to medical professionals.
This trend is branching out from analyzing past patient medical records to collecting health-related data in real-time.
Smartwatches and fitness bracelets already have sensors to monitor a patient’s heart rate, physical activity, and sleep.
In the next few years, sensors that can detect blood sugar, sun exposure, and even fertility indicators are expected to be added to the list.
This data collection capability gives the healthcare provider a way to monitor a patient’s health in outpatient treatment.
AI software will monitor and analyze the data received from a patient’s smartwatch app and create alerts when it detects warning signs.
The data will also help physicians create more effective treatment plans based on the medical history collected over time with smartwatch sensors.
5G and Smartwatches
5G technology will begin to reach consumers in 2020, and it will power a renaissance in mobile devices like smartwatches, phones, and tablets.
If you haven’t heard about 5G yet, it’s the latest wireless network standard designed to improve both internet bandwidth and latency.
That means much faster downloads and far less waiting for connections to be established.
5G data speeds will bring real-time applications to mobile devices, and smartwatches stand to gain more from this than smartphones and tablets.
One of the limiting factors for wearables has been that their size makes it difficult to build the physical memory into them needed to run sophisticated apps.
This problem will be less of an obstacle with 5G because it’ll be more practical to use cloud-based apps that store most of their data on remote servers.
The speed of 5G will make it appear seamless to smartwatch users.
The lower latency and higher connection capacities of 5G will also mean smartwatch wearers will spend far less time waiting for data syncs and downloads to complete.
Video calling will become more reliable, too.
Natural Language Processing and Voice Recognition
Wearables will also catch a natural language processing windfall in the next year or two.
That means voice commands, text dictation, and a host of other Alexa-like interactions will arrive for wearable devices.
It’ll make them much more practical given that they aren’t large enough to offer soft keyboards or more than a couple of physical controls.
The better voice recognition technology becomes, the more flexible it will be to interact with smartwatch apps.
Combined with cloud-based AI applications, smartwatches will become digital assistants that you can take everywhere.
You’ll be able to compare prices for items or discover which store carries the item you need as you get in your car by talking to a smart assistant app on your smartwatch.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things has exploded in recent years, but its lack of integration with other technologies continues to prevent IoT from realizing its full potential.
Smartwatches are one area where this integration may take place in the next year or two.
Whether it’s a smart appliance, a surveillance camera, or a smart light in your home, smartwatches are a natural device to use as a universal controller.
Commercial applications can take this same concept into factories and distribution centers, too.
Wrist-worn wearables are a natural choice for controlling IoT devices in any setting, and they offer greater safety if workers need to have both hands free at all times.
Smartwatches may not seem like a natural choice for an augmented reality device. AR requires a screen large enough to display a camera view of your surroundings.
Smartwatches have the processing power, camera, and mic needed to interact with an AR application, however.
Companies like Huawei are working on AR devices that would allow a detachable smartwatch to fit into a pair of AR glasses. These glasses act as an accessory to provide the screen needed by an AR app.
The smartwatch projects the augmented camera view onto the glasses in the same as Google Glass and other AR products.
With 5G and other supporting technologies arriving, this application of smartwatches will become more practical.
Smartwatches will be augmented in 2020 by several technology trends that will come to fruition soon.
From 5G’s speedier internet connections to automatically turning on your smart lights as you walk into your home, smartwatches will become more practical for everyday use.
The implications of new biosensor technologies will make them more relevant for outpatient monitoring and long-term health provider plans.
Wearable devices will continue to grow in popularity as they converge with these and other technology trends.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters