The State of Sports Wearables and Beyond Into Mixed Realities

Sports wearables are rapidly growing from lifestyle tracker and specialist sports "Ironman" style aid into more advanced self contained "systems on a chip" breaking free of the PC and Mobile phone.

Most analysts surveys are seeing a rapid growth in wearables with fitness leading the way with examples such as the 2015 Mintel survey quoting 118% growth rate in UK market wrist-worn wearables with fitness bands taking 63% marketshare compared to 37% smartwatches.   

Game changing performance 

Latest sports wearables are becoming more integrated with the wearer and the collection and real-time feedback on their activities. It's no longer just data collecting and supporting gamified exercise plans but a serious next stage of personal computing.

At the higher >$200 price end, the recent Apple Watch 2 announcement with built-in GPS and Water resistance to 50 metres in addition to its Heart rate monitoring enables full independence of the device to compete with Fitbit and Garmin Sports watches. In the Lower sub $100 price end we see Jawbone and Fitbit and many others that seek mass customer designer appeal.

A second major change in sports wearables beyond the wrist watch, shoe pedometer or chest heart rate monitors is in the expansion to sensorisation of other body clothing to collect full body gate movement and physiological data. Examples such as Senoria Smart socks for improving running posture and Smart shirts for professional racing driver heart rate stress management for speed performance; to  Adidas miCoacher pacer providing track side in-the-ear audio connection with human coaches. Wearables are becoming necessary for advances in total body workouts giving that extra edge in sports performance.

Data special sauce and beyond Internet of Things

It's all about maximizing the intimacy of personal body data that looks at every physiological and activity state for current and desired health condition and performance. The Sports wearables adopters are a key first mover for the "Internet of things" that could see this level of deep personal data, with privacy and permissions controls, enabling horizontal integration of many other personalize data services for better outcomes in connected health and further into enabling assistance in body size in matching and retail buying choices and the automating biometric payments; to sharing sports wearables data for collaborative social gaming.

Beyond personal identity and virtual mixed worlds

Beyond this better self-knowledge and personalization the rise of augmented reality sports wearables could mix physical sport with virtual coaches and aids to act as a digital map of a "second you" that is 247- 365 monitoring and passively or actively assisting for end to end lifestyles and activities.

This speaks to the new realities of virtual and augmented reality and the idea of a mixed reality human-machine relationship.   Several areas of research and early stage products are starting to emerge  with examples of their evolution of basic graphical user interfaces GUI  to Tangible User Interfaces TUI and "radical atoms" a few years ago from MIT Digital Media Lab that see a merging and extensibility of physical and digital world interaction. New wearables productization of human-machine interfaces such as seen in  Wearables Technology.London explore both artistic and more unexpected uses of wearables in different settings and setting a picture of a roadmap that potentially shows this whole area is way more than we have yet to see or experience!  

Consequences for the human and machine relationship of the future

The ideas of extensibility and virtuality that create proxy experiences through connected and conjoined spaces that for example people in different physical locations can sense and feel and interact in the same virtual space. Added to this the idea of artificial intelligence and the experience can be enhanced beyond a rudimentary Internet of things sensor and feedback idea.  This has huge ramifications for how data, actuation, visualization, human factors and emotional experience will be created and generated in the next decade.  

This is a frontier of experiential computing and design thinking but also the consequences for the human and machine relationship and that are nascent concepts of industrial internet of things, consumer internet of things and the 4th Industrial Revolution.