2016 preview: How wearables are going to take over your life

Here's where wearables are going to make a difference in the next twelve months
2016: How wearables will take over

Happy new Wareable year! It's time to look ahead to what 2016 has in store for us in the wonderful world of wearable tech. In the next twelve months, we're expecting to get our hands on the Apple Watch 2, hopefully some new Fitbits and it's going to be a big year for VR.

We've already picked out the biggest trends for 2016 in our Wareable 50, but how will wearable tech actually impact on your life?

2015 recap: The year in wearable tech

From first thing in the morning to getting your head down at night, here's where we think wearables will filter into that daily routine.

Getting dressed in the morning

After several vibrating shakes from the silent alarm on your Fitbit, you're gently roused from your slumber. But maybe today you don't really want to show off your sporty-looking tracker today.

The good news is that 2016 will be the the year that wearables become invisible and blend effortlessly with your clothing. Fossil and Tag Heuer have already set the wheels in motion for smartwatches, but there's more to come as fashionable wearables break through elsewhere.

From smart rings that even Apple and Samsung are reportedly working on, to affordable smart clothing that don't just suit athletic types, wearables are definitely going to be harder to spot.

Braving the commute

An end to untangling wires and trying to get away with a bulky pair of headphones with a suit? We'll take that. Drowning out the incessantly loud phone calls and leaky white earphones will be done in a more subtle way thanks to the rise of the hearable.

Quite simply, these are wearables but ones that you wear in your ear. We're most excited to finally see the Bragi Dash smart earphones, but the German company is not the only ones making them. Here Active Listening earbuds (image above) can control real world audio and can even change the way you listen to music at a gig. And Microsoft is also rumoured to be working on an in-ear device.

Expect hearables to be big in the world of fitness as well with Jabra and SMS Audio already moving monitoring to the ears, a part of the body considered as a more reliable and accurate source of biometric data.

On the job

Who says you will have to spend big to experience wearable tech? Just get work to pay for it. Take Microsoft's HoloLens holographic headset for instance. A consumer version is still possibly a couple of years away, but the developer version will be up for grabs in early 2016. Some of its most interesting potential uses lie in the work place for collaborating on projects and creating plans in 3D.

Wearables will also have an impact on general life in the office. The Nymi band can replace fingerprint authentication with your heartbeat to help keep sensitive material more secure. If you're feeling under pressure, devices like the Embrace watch can help detect stress levels and convince your boss you need to take a break from the spreadsheets.

Then there's the return of Google Glass. The Enterprise Edition looks to be on the way and is designed for the workplace letting businesses load up custom software to give you a helping hand.

Leaving the wallet (and the phone) behind

You don't fancy what's on the canteen lunch menu, so you decide to make a quick trip to the shops. But you've left your wallet and your phone up on your desk on the 11th floor. It's fine though, because you've got an LTE-enabled smartwatch around your wrist.

More smartwatches are expected to pack e-SIM technology letting you share the same SIM with your phone and making them more than simply companions for your handset.

But it's not just smartwatches with payment power. Barclaycard has partnered with TopShop so you can use NFC to make purchases with accessories like key chains and stickers. While the Kerv NFC smart ring is also going to give Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay a run for its money.

There'll be no reason to panic when you're trying to pay for that meal deal and there's nothing but old receipts in your pocket.

Catching a game

If you love heat maps and can't get through a game of football without knowing exactly how many dribbles Lionel Messi made in the first 15 minutes of the first half, wearables are going to bring you closer to the action.

In the US, the NBA and NFL are already making big strides in delivering game data to fans in real time. In Europe, Spanish startup FirstV1sion has already tested its wearable broadcast system giving players in a Euroleague basketball game and refs in a Barcelona v Real Madrid games smart shirts. These were packed with biometric sensors alongside an embedded HD camera and microphone to give spectators and viewers a closer more intimate first person view of the match.

It won't be long before Sky (or probably BT) is letting you bypass the mundane co-commentary chatter so you can hear players politely asking the ref why they weren't awarded with a penalty kick. Well, something to that effect, but with more swearing.

No need to make a doctors appointment

Nobody likes sitting in a waiting room of coughing and spluttering for hours only to be told there's nothing wrong with you. Thanks to the increase in medical-grade wearables, you'll be able to accurately monitor medical conditions from the comfort of your home.

In the US, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has already seen an increase in wearables seeking approval and millions of dollars are being invested in medical wearables.

Devices like the GlucoVista, which can offer noninvasive glucose monitoring, the Quell relief band (above) that can help treat chronic pain or the ReliefBand to treat nausea are just a handful of examples. They're not going to entirely replace needing to get doctor's opinion, but they should keep those waiting room visits to a minimum.

A session in the gym

So you didn't make it for that early morning run. Fortunately, you've got that recently acquired gym membership fuelled by that New Year's resolution to get in shape and you're going to make use of it. There's that guy from the gym again who can spot a newbie and wants to lure you with personal training sessions to shed the festive weight.

You don't need him though. That's because you'll have your own personal coach around your wrist, on your arm or even packed inside of a gym shirt. They said fitness trackers would be killed off by smartwatches but with innovative devices like the Moov Now and more advanced Fitbits on the way, there doesn't look like there's any sign of that.

Trackers are only going to get smarter, monitoring more biometric data and expect to see more gym wearables to land letting you measure strength as well as how hard you're pounding the treadmill.

A weekend away

Just because you're leaving the country doesn't mean you can escape the invasion of wearables that easily. British Airways recently announced it was adding more terminals for Apple Watch owners to board with their smartwatch. There's already a host of travel apps designed for the smartwatch companion while Android Wear, Watch OS and Pebble's Timeline are all able to give you details on your flight when you need them.

Travel brochures will well and truly be a thing of the past thanks to virtual reality going mainstream. Thomas Cook is already leading the way letting customers virtually visit locations using Samsung Gear VR headsets. If you manage to find yourself in First Class flying with Qantas, you can even enjoy some virtual reality in-flight entertainment.

Big night out

Away from your smartwatch screen turning on every time a notification comes through or your Garmin Vivosmart HR telling you move because you haven't bought a round yet, wearables can largely live in the background when you've decided to stop staring at a screen and actually talk to humans again.

But that doesn't mean they won't have a role to play when you're having a few drinks after work. Wearables for women are set to be one of the biggest trends in 2016 and companies like Athena (image above) and Leaf Wearables are not concerned with counting steps. They're making smart jewellery that can send out alerts and location information to loved ones to help make the journey home a safer one.

After a long day at work...

You've spent the last hour pressed up against a sweaty armpit on the train journey and all you want to do is walk through that front door, onto the sofa and grab the controller for a few games of FIFA. This time next year though, you're gaming setup could have a new addition with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR virtual reality headsets set to land providing they stick to the stated launch dates.

The catalogue of content continues to grow seemingly by the week in preparation for VR invading living rooms with gaming at the heart. Yes, there'll be experiences to whisk you away to more glorious surroundings like a Duke Dumont music video, but it's titles like Crytek's The Climb and Ubisoft's Eagle Flight, which will make it worth shelling out the bucketload of money all first generation tech inevitably always seems to cost.


After immersing yourself in the virtual world, it's time to get back to reality for some shut eye. When it comes to sleep, wearables have only really skimmed the surfaces of what is possible. Right now, our Jawbones and Fitbits can tell us how long we've slept and break that down into types of sleep (albeit with a varying degrees of accuracy).

We've yet to see a wearable actually help us get a better night's sleep. Thankfully, in 2016 they are on the way. We've already read a lot about the Kookon headphones but we can also look forward to alternatives like Neuroon sleep mask, the Rythm Dreem, which aims to improve deep sleep and the Nora pillow insert (image above) that can stop your partner from snoring.

All have the same aim, to make sure you're fully charged for the day ahead and who doesn't want that?

What do you think?

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