Wearables are increasingly gaining a foothold in today’s society, and they are not going anywhere. One in five Americans had at least one type of wearable by 2014, and since then usage statistics have only gone up. In fact, the industry is forecast to rake in more than 95 billion dollars in revenue by the end of next year.
Some wearables are more popular than others, though — and right now, hearables are reigning king. The IDC pegs their usage rate at 46.9% for the entire wearables sector, and voice assistant connected wireless earbuds and headphones use grew by 250%.
Hearables: A Short Overview
Hearables are in-ear computational devices that perform a variety of functions. They first came about when device manufacturers realized that people want more than just in-ear pieces that can amplify and enhance sound. Granted, the first few hearables on the market didn’t quite become an overnight hit; Voicebot says that only about one percent of people with wireless headphones in 2018 used their devices’ built-in voice assistants, but times have changed.
As people become more receptive to voice assistants, hearables gained a stronger foothold. A big part of the shift is attributed to the intuitive design of many hearables, as voice commands are easier and simpler to perform than, say, typing on a keyboard. Additionally, natural language processing has advanced, and developers such as Google are using these advances in their new products and software.
On top of these, hearables can access a lot of information, including:
- Nerve stimulation
- Blood oxygen
- Brain electrical activity
- Skin resistance
- Stress hormone levels
From there, hearables can then report on everything from mental effort to physical health.
There are three main types of hearables currently on the market: hearing aids, personal sound amplifiers, and headphones or earbuds.
Design Considerations for Hearables
While hearables are forecast to get even bigger in the coming years, there are nevertheless a couple of things to consider in their design and development to make sure that they live up to their promise. Foremost among these are:
Privacy and security. The Internet of Things has redefined connectivity, and hearables are not exempt from their ever-growing scope. In line with this, the industry needs to contend with improving data privacy and security for users, particularly where it concerns the collection and sharing of sensitive data with multiple IoT endpoints.
Physical design limitations. Hearables must be non-intrusive and provide a seamless experience, and many of them still come with design limitations that hinder user experience. For instance, some hearables are too big, have adverse effects with prolonged use, or otherwise restrict full enjoyment in one way or another.
Interested in designing hearables for your business? Voler specializes in designing firmware and software for medical wearables, including hearables. We can help you engineer products according to your specifications to make them on-time, on-budget, and easy to manufacture. Visit www.volersystems.com to request a consultation.