Wearable Sensors and Batteries at HIMSS 2019 | Voler Systems
Walt Maclay is honored to have spoken at HIMSS 2019 Conference in February.
Dissecting Wearable Smartwatches Before Placing Your Bet On One
The interest of ‘wearable technology’ started with calculator watches in the mid-1970’s. Eventually, calculator watches were worn by many of the matinee idols, as well as prominent figures throughout the 1980s, including Michael J Fox himself in the Back to the Future trilogy. The calculator watches earned much attention and fame during this decade due to their fashion-value and frequent appearance or cameos in movies. Calculator watches garnered more popularity as they were considered a trendsetting wearable item that many celebrities opted to wear even in public events. Additionally, calculator watches had been sought as the most produced watch in the middle of the decade.
However, their popularity began to slide down in the mid-1990s as the presence of low-cost mobile phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants) began to rise - handy technologies that could perform the same functions and more.
Undeniably, through the brief history and introduction of calculator watches, these paved the way and built a foundation on the evolution of watches - from analog watches to smarter wearable technology, which now we call smartwatches.
Collectively speaking, smartwatches are micro-computers that show, keep time, and perform different functions, which are among the latest developments in the information technology evolution.
Smartwatches are sometimes confused with ‘smart wristbands,’ ‘smart bracelets,’ or ‘fitness trackers,’, which track a user's physical activities, yet only provide very limited information due to their small displays, few sensors, and limited processing capability. The general purpose of these devices usually involves collecting data that a user wants to track then sending it to a device such as a computer, smartphone, or laptop.
Some of these bands have limited functions for displaying information by the installation of apps. Some examples of these are Fitbit Surge® and Nike Fuelband.
In contrast, smartwatches are, more often than not, bigger than smart wristbands and are also often larger than most traditional watches. These wearables are designed with a touchscreen display, operating system, and applications ecosystem that allows for app installation. Unlike smart wristbands, smartwatches provide the most benefits and application functions when these types are connected to the internet (Wi-Fi, mobile internet, or Bluetooth).
Moreover, most newly developed smartwatches that are out on the market today are being positioned as a luxury good, more than being marketed for their technology's very purpose. Thus, by merging technology and fashion, smartwatches became an important and efficient wearable piece that a user should wear and have in order to keep and sustain their current lifestyle.
Because of this development with smartwatches, groundbreaking opportunities transpired for developers (in terms of innovation), smartphone, and laptop users.
Additionally, a trend analysis on Google search revealed an immense increase in searches for ‘smartwatch’ and other related terms. Aside from users’ search behavior data across all search engines, the increased interest in the new technology was also proved by the huge amount of apps offered and developed for smartwatches.
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, having a smartwatch is reasonable, especially if you want to keep track of your #FitnessGoals. So to help you start with, here are some of the benefits of having a smartwatch, should you plan to get one for yourself:
They go beyond keeping time. Smartwatches nowadays go beyond simply keeping time. Smartwatches on the market today are surprisingly fashionable (you can choose from a wide array of designs and colors that best suit your personality) and, yes, they are functional. You can track your steps, heart rate, and more.
Sync one with your phone. The new models of smartwatch allow users to sync their smartwatches with a smartphone, reducing the number of alerts that come to your phone. Furthermore, you can also access your favorite playlist on music apps or even play music without the hassle of unlocking your phone.
Reliable fitness and health trackers. Maintaining physical fitness or losing weight is easier now with the accompaniment of a smartwatch. You can track daily activity, the number of steps, heart rate, stress levels, daily food consumption, calculate your calorie intake, and more. Additionally, smartwatches can now also help identify people with infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. Researchers have discovered that data from wearable devices, such as Fitbit and Apple Watches, can be used to detect certain illnesses, such as COVID-19.
Your digital wallet. Digital payment platforms or applications such as Apple Pay and Google Pay allow for cashless payment wherever mobile payments are accepted. This software is available in various smartwatch models, from the Fossil Sport to the Fitbit® series.
In selecting the best smartwatch to fit one’s lifestyle, one must keep in mind that a smartwatch should be able to monitor one’s health, track location, monitor exercising, and offer a variety of other applications that you wouldn't expect to see on a smartphone. Additionally, battery life is a big factor to consider and, perhaps most important, an affordable price.
Apple Watch SE. This "one of the best smartwatches on the market”' sadly requires its user to have an iPhone to sync it with. Apple Watch SE is operated through watchOS 7, and has a display of 1.78-inch OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes). It also houses an Apple S5 processor, and this smartwatch has varied band sizes depending on watch size. The Apple Watch SE seems to do almost everything that a smartwatch can, but for a much lower price. It comes with some top-end specs, a high-end design, and a great range of features that are not available on other smartwatches today.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3. For those on Android, this smartwatch is the best, and yes, it works with an iPhone too. It is operated by Tizen OS, and has a display size of 1.2-inch or 1.4-inch 360 x 360 Super AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diodes). In fact, it is the best smartwatch that you can spend your money on if you own an Android phone. This smartwatch features a unique rotating bezel that makes navigating around the smartwatch a joy.
Apple Watch 6. For those who are willing to spend, the top-tier smartwatch from Apple is the Apple Watch 6. Similar to its SE variant, Apple Watch 6 is operated by watchOS 7 and has a display size of 1.78-inch OLED. New features are included, such as an upgraded chipset and blood oxygen monitoring, but it has the same screen and design.
Fitbit Versa 3. The Fitbit Versa 3 is a suitable smartwatch for those who want to focus on fitness features. It is designed with built-in GPS and a display that provides easy-to-view crisp images. Similar to previous Fitbit smartwatches, this is mostly focused on tracking your fitness goals or journey. Fitbit Versa 3 also features a 1.58-inch AMOLED display screen and a battery duration of 6 days.
Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2. This Samsung Galaxy Watch variant is designed to be a sportier smartwatch that is slimmer, lighter, and, arguably, more comfortable. Samsung had already released its second version, which included a few coveted features, including a rotating digital bezel and LTE version. Additionally, it also works best if partnered with a Samsung smartphone. It also features a display of 1.2-inch 360 x 360 Super AMOLED and a Dual-core 1.15GHz processor.
Fitbit Versa Lite. The Fitbit Versa Lite is a more affordable version of the Fitbit Versa, because it's light, as the name suggests. But being light doesn't mean less. It has a good range of fitness features, such as a long-lasting battery that keeps you on track, a feature that outlasts other smartwatches out on the market today. Additionally, it is small and light to fit your wrist easily without you noticing it.
Fossil Sport. The Fossil Sport is a high-end watch that is offered at a lower price. This smartwatch features GPS, a lightweight design, and long battery life of at least two days from a single charge. It carries the Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset that offers a smoother experience compared to many older Wear OS watches. Other specifications include a display capacity of 1.2-inch 390 x 390 AMOLED and it has a Quad-core 1.2GHz processor.
Honor Magic Watch 2. The Honor Magic Watch 2 provides its users interesting detailed information on their sports or fitness activities, provides workout advice, and provides feedback for certain activities. This smartwatch is recommended for people who want to get fitter. Its battery lasts for a long time without charging, up to a week or two, but it depends on which version you opt for. The Honor Magic Watch 2 also features a display capacity of 1.2-inch or 1.39-inch 454 x 454 AMOLED with an onboard storage of 4GB.
TicWatch Pro 3. The TicWatch Pro 3 is considered one of the best Wear OS watches especially if you are an iPhone or Android phone user. It offers a long and solid battery life and intuitive functionalities. This smartwatch uses the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 chipset with 1GB of RAM, seemingly a powerful smartwatch. Applications load quickly with fast boot time. The TicWatch Pro 3 also features a display capacity of 1.4-inch 454 x 454 OLED paired with an LCD screen and onboard storage of 8GB.
Apple Watch 3. Apple continues to keep the Apple Watch 3 on the market with an affordable price tag - making this smartwatch a must-have. Although the design may look a little behind compared to the Apple Watch 6 smartwatch - or the Apple Watch 4 and 5 - it's still an elegant piece of wrist-wear that offers a lot of the technology that you would want.
You can upgrade the Apple Watch 3 with the latest watchOS 7 software, making it a great addition to your everyday must-wears. Again, this smartwatch will only work if you have an iPhone.
When it comes to smartwatches, there are a few more things that both potential and existing users should keep in mind when selecting a good and beneficial smartwatch.
For example, smart wearable device developers and designers consider the design for glanceability of a smartwatch, an important part of its design and development journey. Glanceability refers to displaying only the most crucial and critical information, allowing the user to analyze or understand the content made for a smartwatch in less than 5 seconds. It's about making and having a UI (user interface) glanceable by reducing the interface down to its most basic visual feedback, and figuring out what exactly the user needs to see at any given moment of time.
Another is the context of design. This is basically the backbone of the design and it should provide specific information at a glance. Smart devices are designed with a full suite of sensors and it’s possible to utilize built-in device sensors to determine user context.
Moreover, smartwatches should have a minimalist design -and minimalist design means to have the following:
- Sharp contrast. It is crucial to have contrast on small screens, as it makes elements easy to see and read at a glance.
- Readable yet aesthetically clean typeface. A simple Sans Serif typeface is considered one of the most preferred and readable typefaces on wearable devices.
- Decent whitespace elements. Having too much space in between elements will give no room for any other content; the same goes with too little space -it will be difficult to see or read. Thus, finding a proper balance is the key that will help you to provide function and make wearable UI more glanceable.
Another function that is also very important is the response speed of a smartwatch. The response to user activities needs to be fast and immediate. Device developers and designers conduct performance benchmarks to identify places in the app that make users wait. In fact, there's this simple rule of a two-second interaction: smartwatch designs should not take more than two seconds to respond.
Many smartwatches that are available on the market today have built-in sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes. The data collected from the sensors is used for fitness and health-related activities or for games. These device sensors enhance data input and accuracy. The most common examples are fitness apps that can utilize the data to provide feedback and alerts about the user’s general health.
Aside from the aesthetics, functionality, and security, the interaction cost is one of the key elements a buyer or a device design and developing provider bears in mind. It requires a lot of time and effort to make sure that the app delivers what it’s supposed to do. No matter what action the user does, it should not take them much time.
All in all, when designing a smartwatch or a smart wearable device, always think about data security. A wearable device is prone to security issues, which can be painful for the user and embarrassing for the manufacturer.
The interactions with the smartwatch must be lightweight and immediate. Smartwatch UX should revolve on the speed and comfort of interaction. Users should not feel like they are interacting with a computer but rather a personal device that makes their life more comfortable.
Located in Silicon Valley, Voler Systems is proud of its years of proven expertise in electronic design on hundreds of projects across a wide spectrum of sensors, power, and wireless communication.
We have designed and developed wearable devices and technologies: from consumer products to high-end wearable technology in healthcare and other industries. Additionally, we have designed sensor-based wearable products such as lightweight AR glasses and tiny wearable medical patches by managing the design trade-offs between size, power, and cost.
Our team takes on complete responsibility for all aspects of development, or we can share the responsibility with your in-house team. We also have partners who can provide mechanical design, optical design, quality, regulatory work, transfer to manufacturing, manufacturing on-shore or off-shore, and other services to provide complete product development.
Walt Maclay is honored to have spoken at HIMSS 2019 Conference in February.
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