Wearables are not just about health and wellness says report

Panic button the most wanted wearable just ahead of smartwatches
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While fitness remains the leading light for wearable tech, there's many out there that believe there's more to life than counting steps and monitoring heart rate on a daily basis.

That's according to a report compiled by Swedish tech company Ericsson, which revealed that 6 in 10 smartphone users feel wearables have uses beyond health and fitness.

The wearable technology and the internet of things report captured the opinions of 5,000 smartphone users across Brazil, China, South Korea, the US and the UK through online surveys earlier this year. Half of those included in the report were also wearable users.

It found the five most-wanted wearables and surprisingly, smartwatch and fitness tracker wasn't top of the list. The most sought after was a panic/SOS button with smartwatches coming in second place and a wearable location tracker in third. An identity authenticator took fourth spot with a wearable water purifier completing the list.

While there are products out there that cover some of those (mostly via crowdfunding projects), you won't find panic button functionality built into any Fitbit or Apple Watch right now. It will surely give those companies food for thought though.

The problem(s) with wearable tech

The report also explored trends around new users of wearables revealing that those who had bought a device in the past three months were left disappointed by the current generation of wearables. One in ten said they no longer used their wearable device with one third of users abandoning them within a couple of weeks of buying it.

The lack of standalone connectivity and limited functionality were the chief reasons for the dissatisfaction. We are starting to see more devices though that do offer a more untethered experience including the Pebble Core. Android Wear watches will soon benefit from some pretty significant updates to help make them work more like standalone devices.

When it comes to sharing data, 70% of users are very serious about protecting their data but are actually more likely to share data with wearable companies than with doctors, insurance companies and internet companies.

Looking to the future

Other findings from the report revealed that ownership of wearables has doubled in the past year, with two in five users saying they feel naked when not wearing their device. Consumers predict we are still a year away from wearables truly going mainstream.

It also suggests niche products like personal safety devices and smart garments will go mainstream beyond 2020 and one in three smartphone users believes they will use up to at least five wearables in four-five years time.

For smartwatch fans, two in five (43%) believe wearables might replace smartphones in the future and that 38% expect wearables to be able to perform the same features as smartphones within just five years.

So, some interesting findings there, but do you agree? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Wearables are not just about health and wellness says report

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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