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Smart wearables: Leaping forward in world of connectivity

We are plugging into Internet of Things as it spreads to clothes, rings and smart watches

After the invention of smartphones in 1992, wearables are considered the next big innovation in the technology world.

A record 527 million wearables were sold in 2020, up from 384 million in 2019, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

And now with 5G there will be a complete new era of innovative applications which will allow a higher number of devices to operate within a geographical area. As wearables become more prevalent, devices will be fighting for bandwidth and a 5G network promises to be a key enabler for device-to-device communication such as healthcare or public safety applications, in which ultra-fast communication becomes a necessity.

We are living in an era where we want to know more about our own personal lifestyles; how many steps I did today, what is my heart rate after this run and how do I compare with my peers, says Dr Haytham Assem, a chief scientist in Huawei Ireland Research Centre.


“There is a huge list of wearable devices that already exist, and it becomes even more exciting to think about the wide range of future possibilities for the wearable technology. It is expected that smart watches will continue being the leading segment with continued growth in the coming year. With the adoption of 5G networks, we are expecting to see more head-mounted VR technology applied, especially to gaming, aviation, engineering and medicine. If you imagine a challenging task like surgery, what if the best surgeon in the world was only available for 30 minutes but lived in Galway and you were in Dublin, and the next appointment to see them was in 12 months. Or you could have remote surgery today using VR technology. This is the future,” he says.

Behavioural patterns

In the near term, expect to see growth in smart clothing allowing users not only to control their smartphones but to track the location of their Uber as well as monitoring various other signals. It is likely smart clothing will become a reality starting from next year.

It’s predicted wearable technology is going to be used as another way to understand users’ behavioural patterns like shopping choices, with data being put into artificial intelligence algorithms which will further allow marketers to provide the most personalised user experience ever.

Smart jewellery and rings are expected to notify users of their text messages, calls or emails when their phone is out of reach but can also can be utilised for opening the car or for authenticating personal devices or simply can act as a smart badge for entering work offices.

“The interconnectivity between a broad ranges of wearables will be considered the game changer, as the promise of IoT [the Internet of Things] is based on pervasive connectivity and when linked with an enormous collection of connected devices, new types of applications can start to evolve that even we cannot fully realise right now. Think about an implanted wearable that monitors insulin levels, it communicates with a smart watch for personalised training programs for the individual and can even advise if it is safe to drive or not,” Assem says.

Fitness trackers

In 2020, global wearable sales topped half a billion and it is expected that the trend will continue to rise. The pandemic played a role in growing the wearables market.

There was a surge in the use of earbuds driven by people working from home and their need to attend video conferences. Also there has been strong growth in fitness trackers and smart watches as people started paying more attention to their health during the pandemic. Many smart watches monitor heart rates, and keep outdoor exercise tracked, and some of Huawei’s smartphones even monitor oxygen levels.

“In Huawei, we genuinely believe in the future of interconnectivity between devices and hence we are pushing the boundaries of this technology on all fronts; this includes working on our new operating system Harmony OS that can support such connectivity and provide features for consumers to connect all their devices with wearables with just few clicks. Additionally, this vision will not be realised without an exceptionally fast network which 5G promises to provide. Finally, the wearable devices themselves which we are currently offering, starting from smart watches to smart glasses,” Assem says.