The Internet of Me: How Wearable Tech is Changing the Internet of Things

Imagine  jogging  along  your  favorite  trail  when  suddenly  you  feel  a  shortness  of  breath  and  a  painful  squeeze  in  your  chest.  You  stop…  and  with  a  flick  of  a  finger,  you  instantly  notify  emergency  responders  of  your  situation  and  your location.  At  the  same  time,  the  notification  alerts  your  doctor  of  the  incident  and  sends  your  vital  statistics.  What  enables  all  of  this  information  to  be  gathered  and  transported  to  the  right  place  is  the  combination  of  sensors  and  connectivity  provided  by  the  devices  that  make  up  the  wearable  Internet  of  Thing.
This scenario may not seem far-fetched considering  the  explosive  growth  of  Internet-­‐enabled  devices  worn  on  the  body.  Whether  strapped  to  your  wrist,  attached  to  your  eyewear, or embedded  under  your  clothes,  developers  are  building  applications  that  monitor  body  systems  through  sensors  and  pull  notifications,  and  alert  users  to  important  changes  through  push  notifications.

The  popularity  of  smartphones  certainly  fueled  the  growth  of  wearable  devices.  The iconic  iPhone  and  various  Android  devices  provide  a  constant  connection  to  the  Internet  that  mobile  developers  know  how  to  tether  or  synchronize  with associated  wearables.

Unlike  Internet  developments  in  homes  and  businesses,  wearables  represent  suc a fundamental  change  to  our  lives  that  Sandro  Olivieri,  a  Senior  Manager  at  AT&T’s  Foundry,  calls  developing  for  the  wearable  marketplace  the “Internet  of  Me.” “Our  research  has  found  that  users  don’t  really  care  that  their  identity  lives  beyond  their  own  device  and  more  than  likely  that  it  lives  in  the  cloud,”  says  Olivieri.  “If  there  is  a  center  of  the  Internet  -­‐  whether  this  is  in  a  car,  at  the  office  or  at  home  -­‐  they  are  comfortable using  their  primary  device  and  interacting  with  the  network.”  Most  people  currently  consider  their  smartphone  the  primary  device,  but  it  remains  to be  seen  what  the  “main  access  point”  to “Internet  of  Me”  will  be  given  all  these  new  points  of  connection.

Internet-­‐enabled wearable  gear  was  high  on  many  people’s  holiday  gift  list  this  past  year,  with  an  estimated  35  million  wearables  in  use  by  the  end  of  2014,  according  to  researchers  at  CCS  Insight.  This  represents  a  180  percent  increase  in  wearable  IoT  device  shipments  in  only  three  years.  And  many  of  the  new  designs  can run independently  of  a  smartphone.

The wearable device market can be  segmented  into  seven  sections,  according  to  ABI  Research’s  latest  report:  wearable cameras,  smart  clothing,  smart glasses, health care,sport and activity trackers, wearable 3D motion trackers and smartphone-compatible watches.

The  opportunity  for  developers  is  to  take  what  they  know  about  mobile  technology  and  apply  it  to  emerging  wearable  products  for  a  public  that

has  already  started  to  see  the  future  and  benefits  of  wearable  applications.

“Anybody  involved  in  the  early  days  of  mobile  remembers  that  you  had  to  do  it  yourself,”  says  Matt  Powers,  Chief  Technology  Officer  with  Applico.  “None  of  the  applications  or  connector  protocols  were  built  for  you.  Now there are tools that make it easier.  Developers  are  well  equipped  for  IoT  work  that  is  more  at  the  application  level  and  what  is  great  is  that  the  same  mobile  development  principles  apply  to  IoT.”

Powers  suggests  that  developers  look  for  ways  to  minimize  the  amount  of  button  clicks  and  maximize  the  use  of glance-­‐able  displays.  If you make an app or hardware design  too  difficult,  users  will  quickly  move  on  from  your  design  to  another  one  that  is  less  confusing,  he  notes.

.    In 2014, the Application Developers Alliance  and  its  Emerging  Technologies  Working  Group  began  identifying  five  areas  influenced  by  IoT  to  give  developers  insight  into  creating  a  robust  ecosystem.  This  whitepaper  serves  as  an  exploration  of  IoT  by  looking  at  its  current  state  in  wearable  devices,  best  practices  for  creating  apps,  and  new  opportunities  to  explore.  Other investigations cover automotive, manufacturing, home and retail.

From  Dick  Tracy’s  wrist  radio  to  the  current  wave  of  Android  watches,  the  idea  of  connected  wearable  technology  has  fascinated  developers  for generations.  Real  wearable  technology  has  been  around  since  the  early  60s,  from  the  early  days  of  MIT  math  professor’s  “Beat  the  Dealer”  device  to  Keith  Taft’s  “George”  blackjack  beater  shoe  technology.  Modern  interfaces  include  the  Fitbit  health  monitor,  Pebble  smartwatch,  and  Google  Glass.  These  innovations  inspire  new  ways  of  thinking  about  IoT  for  the  body.

Developers  have  numerous  resources  at  their  fingertips  to  learn  the  ins  and  outs  of  wearable  technology.  Artyom  Astafurov,  Managing  Partner  and  head  of  the  IoT  practice  at  software  development  firm  DataArt,  notes  that  his  company,  like  many  others,  supplies  APIs,  tutorials,  videos,  and  physical  meetups  to  help  developers  with  design.


“Barriers  to  entry  for  wearable  developers  are  still  pretty  high,”  says  Astafurov.  “Putting  together  a  prototype,  testing  that  prototype  and  moving  it  into  production  involves  quite  a  bit  of  discipline.  .  It also  includes  embedded  development,  firmware  and  electric  wiring  –  however,  combining  all  of  these  disciplines  can  be  difficult  at  times.  In  some  cases,  a  proxy  API  can  be  provided  though  that  allows  developers  to  test  the  system  without  the  worry  of  overloading  their  own  systems.”

Others disagree and feel that entry into  wearable  technology  is  exploding  due  to  increased  funding  and  available  tools.  Matthew  Wong,  a  Research  and  Data  Analyst  at  CB  insights  stated,  “Venture  capitalists  want  to  have  Quantified  Self  in  their  portfolios.  We’re  Seeing significant investment.”

“The barriers to entry are very low for  developers,  with  free  or  low  cost  tools  and  developer  kits  generally  available. The  greatest  challenge  is  to  go  beyond  creating  something that simply  looks  neat  or  cool,  but  that  also  that  adds  genuine  value. For example, bringing  Evernote  checklists  to  your  wrist,  and  being  able  to  check  items  off  on  both  Android  Wear  and  the  Pebble  is  simple  but  incredibly  useful  when  you  are out  and  about,”  says  Damian  Mehers,  Senior  Software  Engineer  at  Evernote.

Google’s  Android  has  captured  early  success  with  its  Wear  series  of  APIs. Apple is also looking to dominate with its HomeKit protocols.  The  much  anticipated  Apple  Watch,  projected  to  debut  in  2015,  is  expected  to  propel  the  company  into  more  mainstream  IoT-­‐enabled  markets.

Samsung’s  plans  for  IoT  wearables  are  reaching  further  than  the  Android  operating  system.  The  company  announced  in  2013  its  own  Linux-­‐based  operating  system  for  smaller  devices  called  Tizen.  From  powering  smart  cameras  to  smartwatches  and  eventually  smartphones,  the  OS  includes,  among  other  things,  a  telephony  stack,  Smack  -­‐  an  HTML5  sandbox  for  apps,ConnMann  as  its  network  manager,  and  Zypp  package  manager.

“There  are  hundreds  of  ways  to  do  the  same  thing  –  so  we’re  in  a  bit  of  a primordial  soup  to  build  something  meaningful,”  Astafurov  says.


Wearable  fitness  devices  are  expected  to  generate  the  most  mass  consumer  adoption  in  2015,  with  22  percent  of  consumers  already  owning  or  planning  to  make  a  purchase  next  year,  according  to  a  survey  of  more  than  2,000  North  American  consumers  by  Acquity  Group,  part  of  Accenture  Interactive.

The study  surveyed  future  purchasing  trends  and  attitudes  about  the  digital  connection  of  physical,  identifiable  devices  to  the  Internet  where  the  data  and  devices  communicate  in  an  intelligent  fashion.  Some 59 percent  of

Generation  X  consumers  (ages  26-­‐35)  said  they  plan  to  adopt  wearable  fitness  technology  in  the  next  five  years,  compared  to  47  percent  of  Millennials  (ages  18-­‐25).

Of  the  men  surveyed,  53  percent  said  they  plan  to  purchase  wearable  technology  in  the  next  five  years,  compared  to  45  percent  of  women.

However,  when  it  comes  to  wearable  fitness  devices,  women  are  slightly  more  likely  to  have  already  adopted  them  than  men  (8  percent  compared  to  7  percent).

Smart clothing  and  heads-­‐up  displays  are  expected  to  see  the  least  overall adoption,  with  only  3  percent  projected  to  be  adopted  in  the  next  year,  and  14  and  16  percent  in  the  next  five  years.

“IoT  is  a  convergence  of  trends,  security,  and  user  experiences,”  says  Artyom  Astafurov  of  DataArt.  “I  believe  there  will  be  faster  adoption  for  non-­‐critical  applications,  mostly  for  consumer  use.”


Similar  to  other  IoT  interfaces,  wearables  are  based  on  three  key  layers.  First  are  the  electronics  placed  closest  to  the  body  that  monitor  elements  such  as  temperature,  movement,  and  pulse.  Battery life  tends  to  be  an  issue  in  this  layer,  as  these  interfaces  need  to  be  as  small  as  possible.

The second is the connectivity and control  ayer.  Smartphones  have  initially  played  this  role  but  the  strength  of  watches  and  inclusion  of  wireless  radios  may  shift  the  center  of  the  mobile  hub  from  your  smartphone  to  your  wrist.

“Wearable devices are a lot about capturing and displaying information.  But  the  way  to  interact  with  those  devices  will  make  the  real  acceptance  and differences,”  says  Denis  Manceau,  Director  of  Global  Product  Management  at  MyScript.  “In that respect, as much natural and gesture-­‐centric interface as  possible should  be  designed.  It  is  all  about  digitalizing  real  work  so  people  are  expecting  to  interact  with  devices  naturally.  The learning curve should be set of  its  minimum.

For instance,  Manceau  notes  that  text  input  or  search  is  difficult  on  a  wearable  due  to  the  size  or  form  factor  of  the  device  since  a  keyboard  cannot  be  present.  With  handwriting  recognition  based  on  superimposed  characters,  users  can  enter  text,  a  command  or  a  search  query  on  limited  surface,  such  as  a  watch,  with  minimal  attention.

“The  watch  can  even  be  used  for  pushing  command  to  your  eyeglasses,”  Manceau  says.  “The  user  experience  will  be  similar  to  the  one  in  the  car  already  equipped  with  handwriting  recognition.  Your  main  attention  is  still  on  what  happens  in  your  field  of  view  and  not  on  the  input  device.”  (Watch  an  interview  with  MyScript’s  CEO  Paddy  Padmanabhan  for  more  insights  on  IoT  integration).

The  Bluetooth  low  energy  protocol  has  become  the  most  popular  way  to  connect  a  wearable  device  to  a  smartphone  or  home  router  with  network access.  This  enables  devices  to  operate  for  months  or  years  on  a  single  button  cell,  something  that  other  wireless  standards  (802.11,  LTE)  cannot  currently  offer.  Additionally  BLE  has  become  the  de-­‐facto  standard  for  low  power higher  bandwidth  communications  with  a  phone.

Finally  there  is  the  cloud  layer,  where  the  device  supplies  and  reads  data  specific  to  the  use  case.  Developers  should  always  consider  how  wearables  can  make  this  data  actionable.  It’s  great  that  things  like  Fitbit  record  data  about  someone,  but  wearables  will  truly  empower  consumers  when  they  deliver  outputs  that  will  improve  the  user’s  quality  of  life.  So  far  the  applications  and  platforms  in  the  market  have  not  made  this  connection,  which  is  possibly  why  after  six  months,  more  than  75  percent  of  people  have  stopped  using  their  wearable  device.