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Will People Use Your Wearable Device? 5 Design Considerations to Help Ensure They Do!

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Designing a modern wearable device is becoming increasingly more challenging. After experiencing a meteoric rise in popularity during the last couple of years, the demand for wearable technology and consumer expectations is high. It's not just consumer-level wearables that are getting more complex.

Wearables in healthcare, enterprise, industrial sectors, and more push us further into the fourth industrial revolution. Perfecting your design is crucial if you want it to have any impact in an already-crowded market.

Here are some essential considerations when developing a new wearable device.

1. Wearable Form

Matters of form and function might seem like a task for the product design team. However, it's also an essential attribute from an engineering standpoint.

A gadget's overall size and weight will dictate everything from the types of components you use to how you position them.

The point of a wearable is that it can collect data comfortably without tying users down. It has to stay lightweight, relatively compact, and easy to wear for long periods. On top of all that, you have to accommodate consumer expectations.

As an engineer, the challenge is to find the right mix of parts that can fit into an efficient form factor while still delivering the functionality you need.

How will you pack the necessary components into as small a volume as possible? Those are considerations to make throughout the entire design process.

2. Wearable Power Storage and Consumption

Power consumption is another crucial design factor. Wearables can't rely on a round-the-clock connection to an external power source. However, they can't have massive, high-capacity batteries, either.

When engineering a new device, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is how you can keep it powered without sacrificing functionality. Devices with low battery life present many problems. It limits the amount of crucial data collected and becomes cumbersome to use.

Modern wearables must have the right balance between consumption and storage. Low-power design is crucial in today's wearable market. It's about selecting the right components and optimizing functionality for energy efficiency.

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Many low-power design trends are changing the game. It's an ever-evolving field that gets better year after year. To develop a successful wearable device, optimizing power consumption and storage should be at the top of your priority list.

3. Wearable Interference and Security

Wearable devices encounter more potential dangers than most of the electronics we use every day. They go to more places and have exposure to different environments.

A big part of developing a wearable is ensuring that it's "life-proof."

No one wants to worry about every splash of water or accidental bump against a wall. Therefore, overall durability should be a part of your design approach.

Not all devices need to be water-resistant or tough enough to withstand extreme shock. However, the amount of protection you implement should match the intended use cases.

Of course, it's not just physical threats you have to worry about when designing a device. Wearables are also subject to signal interference and possible security threats.

Electrical interference can lead to inaccurate data collection and diminished device performance. Details like signal conditioning, shielding, and more, can combat those issues.

Security is another problem that device-makers are having to face head-on. Earlier wearables didn't have the best security protocols. Even today, unsecured databases make it easy for cybercriminals to access private information.

Built-in security is necessary to develop a medical device and is highly recommended for a consumer-level gadget. You don’t want your company to be in the headlines about the next big security breach.

Securing data from wearable devices is a joint effort between hardware design engineering and software engineering. On the hardware side of things, a secure-by-design approach allows for proactive risk mitigation and works well in conjunction with software.

4. Wearable Wireless Connectivity

Wireless communication is the backbone of wearable technology. It contributes to the overall user experience and plays an integral role in how a device collects and transmits data.

Most consumer devices connect to a mobile device. It combines the capabilities of a smartphone for remote data processing and user-facing functionality.

But even wearables that don't use a mobile device may need some connection capabilities to handle security updates, upgrades, and configuration changes.

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Many forms of wireless technology are available, and the option you utilize in your device can impact its utility. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is ideal for short-range communications to a computer or smartphone. The same goes for Near Field Communications (NFC) and other lesser-used standards.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi can serve facility-based devices and cloud-based processing. Finally, cellular technology is ideal for free-roaming wearables without a centralized base.

Wireless capabilities are a significant design decision. It impacts convenience and portability, but it also has implications for the form of the device and power consumption.

Furthermore, it requires the strategic placement of internal antennas for optimized signal propagation and reduced interference.

5. Wearable Material Choice

Another factor to consider is the materials utilized in the final build. Don't mistake waiting until the production phase for thinking about how the materials affect the user experience, device safety, and durability.

Your device will likely have long-term direct skin contact. If it's a consumer wearable, users might wear it for an entire day before taking it off. It could be on for days or weeks if you're making medical devices.

Keep the device wear time in mind and choose materials that account for the nature of the user's skin. Damage can go both ways, leading to skin irritation and faster device deterioration.

You also might run into material compatibility issues. It's a problem that often appears when making devices that use adhesive.

Some materials won't respond well to bonds that keep the device on the skin, rendering the entire wearable useless. Others might react negatively to heat, sterilization processes, water from showers, and other environmental factors.

It's important to choose tough, comfortable, and compatible materials that hold up to your device's intended use.

 

Putting the Pieces Together

Those are just some of the many factors to consider when designing a new wearable. These gadgets are more complex than end-users realize, combining many disciplines into one highly efficient integrated system.

From an engineering perspective, the primary obstacle is getting every part to work in tandem to deliver a final product that fits every requirement.

Let Voler Systems help you create a wearable that matches your vision. We're well-versed in the complexities of wearable device design.

Our team specializes in sensors, low-power design, wireless technology, and more. Regardless of how simple or complex your plans are, we'll combine our disciplines to develop a wearable on time and on budget.

Contact Voler Systems Today

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