Wearable M2M turned into a reality
13 Mar 2014 Consumer Electronics
Wearable technology has been one of the highlights at the latest Mobile World Congress which showcased a host of smart bracelets, smartwatches and other accessories capable of collecting, sending and processing data over mobile apps and other types of software.
Amid the proposals by manufacturers like Samsung with its Gear Fit, Gear 2 and Gear Pro 2 and the announcements made by others that are beginning to foray into this booming sector, such as HTC, Telefónica’s commitment stood out with an agreement signed with several manufacturers, including Sony, Samsung and LG.
By 2017, Berg Insights forecasts that 64 million of these gadgets could be sold, vis-à-vis 8.3 million sold in 2012. In turn, Juniper Research raises the first figure up to 70 million gadgets, while the ABI Research consulting firm foresees that by said date there will be almost 170 million wireless sensors available in the sports and health sectors.
The M2M technology that enables communications between wearable devices and the end points connected to the Internet will play a key role in boosting this trend. The truth is that beneath the plastic covers –whether sober or colourful–of these accessories lie great and sophisticated data solutions.
The heart rate, the calories burnt, the number of steps taken each day, the pulse, how fast certain movements are carried out… all that local information is built up and uploaded to the cloud to go through an analysis system.
Data can be analysed individually and compared with the user’s own history, or else they may be assessed collectively. Metrics help in setting personal goals, being more physically fit, eating more healthily or just knowing whether our health is within average.
However, these systems are not only applicable to ordinary individuals. The sports brand Adidas, for example, has developed the so-called miCoach Elite system, which can monitor the data of athletes and players in real time. The information obtained, which may even include the individual’s hydration level, is used by managers and coaches, as well as by doctors and the sportsmen themselves.
This is just one example of how wearable technology data, downloaded altogether thanks to M2M technology, can open the doors to a whole new world for collective research on the manifold activities we carry out every day.
For the time being, many of these devices are not yet fitted with a slot to insert SIM cards in and depend on other gadgets to be connected to the net. However, at the CES of Las Vegas and more recently at the MWC, some connectivity proposals have been put forward in this regard, such as the Burg or Omate smartwatches, as well as the demos run by Telefónica: watches, bracelets and even a smart helmet for motor bikers.
At any rate, things might change not too far from now in the future. Apple, the first manufacturer that integrated a dedicated motion-processing chip into smartphones, in October registered a patent that would redesign SIM card trays. This proposal includes an ejecting mechanism that would be used in all mobile devices, laptops and wearables. In its patent, the Cupertino manufacturer even mentions that such a mechanism could possibly be used in smart shoes.