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Qualcomm Says Wearables Are Here to Stay - and We Have to Agree

Are wearables the next big thing or just a flash in the pan?

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We here at SparkFun have been working in wearables for years. Our LilyPad line was one of the first-on-the-scene for the DIY community and continues to be a leader in the field for hobbyists and engineers alike. In the last few years, the field of wearable technology has absolutely exploded - with major players like Apple, Samsung, Nike and others joining in with a collection of amazing wearable electronics devices.

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The SparkFun LilyPad MP3 Player for adding music to your clothing.

But despite the initial buy-in from these household corporate names, many people still see wearables as a fad that will slowly go the way of the buffalo, leaving your FitBit and Apple Watch to collect dust alongside so many other latest-and-greatest technological devices.

We have to disagree -- not just because we have a real and tangible investment in this segment of the electronics industry -- but because we are seeing first-hand what folks are doing with wearable tech.

And the more industry giants jump on the bandwagon, the more likely wearables are to remain a relevant and growing field. In fact, communications giant Qualcomm just announced they believe in the future of wearables.

Qualcomm and Wearables

Image via Gizmodo

So with Qualcomm firmly on-board, we are very excited about what the future of e-textiles and wearable technology holds. What do you think? Here to stay or fast-fading fad?

Comments 4 comments

  • I think the truth will end up somewhere in between. Wearable tech is still a solution looking for a problem. Not many people NEED blinken lights on their clothes. When the tech starts filling needs, or at least strong wants, it will bloom. Also, it usually takes some sort of big player establishing some de facto standards to really settle a tech into our daily lives. This is where Sparkfun could really make an impact in the segment, by starting to standardize a layout or design standard for all things wearable. Maybe a collaboration with other players such as Adafruit would be in order here.

    I have a great idea and no time/money to make it. Feel free to run with this. How about a line of clothing with standardized "wiring" in it? Communication and power lines running to strategic points on the clothing with standardized connectors(snaps???) at those points.

    • I disagree that wearable tech is a solution looking for a problem. The problems are already there, it only has recently begun that people are able to solve those problems with wearable tech at an affordable cost. This is mainly due to the open source hardware community finding those solutions cheaply.

      As an example, heart rate monitoring. In the past, you had to have a proprietary watch and sensor system strapped to you to get anything, and then you had to use their system to log/track on a computer. There are heart rate monitor shirts for sale that work via BLE! It is even getting to the point where prototypes of vests/helmets/etc are getting made so that if the ER doctor wants to know the status even before the patient arrival, they can do that and talk with the EMT to know what was done and what can be done during the ride.

  • I can't see how wearables can be dismissed as a fad. When mobile phones came out, they were considered mostly a toy that pretentious people could flash around. Nowadays, just about everybody has one and most would say they are indispensable. I would say that mobile phones are a category of wearable, a phone isn't much use to you if you don't take it with you. I'm not saying that everything about wearable tech is or will be useful, in some cases they may even be hindrances, but I think it's just another way to extend (augment) ourselves. Some wearables will be a fad, like mood rings were, and some will become things we cannot live without, maybe even literally, if it's a device that can warn of impending heart attacks, epileptic seizures or strokes for example. As sensor tech improves, wearables will have more and more real uses and replace or enhance other technologies.

  • To me, a fitbit is not a 'wearable' technology and neither is the Apple watch. They are accessories of a sort that are not integrated into one's clothing. These kinds of technology I'll gladly buy and use because they aren't integrated into a particular article of clothing.

    Historically, when Sparkfun refers to wearables, it usually means that the electronics are part of the clothing itself. These things I will not buy and I have no care in the world for even experimenting with them. The core problem to me is that I have to have one particular item to receive the benefit of the technology or I have to buy that same technology multiple times for it to be feasible. I'm also not convinced that such things are terribly durable given that most things must at least be washed at some point in their usage lifecycle.

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