Global attention turns to Austin each year to dissect and discuss the nexus of innovative ideas brought forth at SXSW Interactive. Like clockwork, over the course of the week, clear themes begin to emerge across the panels, keynotes and trade show exhibitors. Wearables.com noticed three general but significant trends from which many businesses will be born. Take a look at the overview, below.
An increased focus on previously untapped audiences, like kids, elderly and pets.
This year we noticed more companies interested in catering to markets other than the quasi-quantified self adult market. Children took center stage with a number of groups looking to connect parents to their children, like SXSW accelerator winner Tinitell.
Herokins aims to make the use of wearables by children part of an ongoing, expanding digital in-app narrative, similar to a graphic novel.
Other companies chose to look at the opposite end of the consumer spectrum — the elderly. We spoke with UnaliWear, whose smartwatch for the elderly allows for dignified independence, while providing their caretakers (typically their children) to monitor for events such as falling, location and missed medications.
Lastly, wearables went to the dogs, literally.
While Whistle made a splash with its acquisition of former Qualcomm-owned Tagg, new entrants such as the SXSW Accelerator competitor Fitbark showed that the possibilities to cater to connected pet parents are still very large.
Stylishly integrating wearables into fashion with smart fabrics.
Sunday’s Beyond Wearables: Future Fabrics and Fashion Design panel showcased a growing trend in wearables: looking to smart clothes to make the connected aspect of wearables melt away into the fabric of existing outfits.
While smart clothing is certainly not a new topic, or even form factor in the world of wearables, it did become a major point of conversation with a lot of great insight and interest coming from the non-technical fashion experts.
The Decoded Fashion mentorship hub illustrated not only the fashion and retail worlds’ eagerness to collaborate with the innovators behind connected clothing, but also to add to the the current landscape of popular fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Examples heard of promising new connected clothing garments included those that help you regulate your personal environment (like a jacket with a personal air conditioning and heating system), as well as fabrics that have sensors woven directly into the clothing for health tracking.
Wait, where did Glass go?
Noticeably absent from the enthusiastic crowd at SXSW was Google Glass [product page link]. While we are quite familiar with the shuttering of the Explorer Program, we did not expect it to have such a drastic effect on existing users. It would seem that many decided to put the smart glasses away.
On a morning visit to the Expo Hall, we counted only two Glass units — one of which, actually, was worn by our Lyft driver on the way to the event. Those who attended the conference last year will recall the proliferation of people proudly sporting Google Glass. It appears that early adopters have moved on from the device until more news emerges from Google as to future consumer plans.
As the wearables industry continues to evolve, we can’t wait to investigate what other unique and varied use cases come about.