The dawning of a new year is upon us – so fresh and full of opportunity. The decoratiions are down at Wareable towers and the serious business of CES 2024 is upon us.
But the path for 2024 is already becoming clear.
Come with us on a journey through 2024 – and what to expect in the world of wearables.
Movano Evie Ring
We won’t have long to wait for overdue Evie Ring, which will land on fingers in 2024. The female-focussed smart ring is out to challenge Oura, which itself has gone big on women’s health insights in the past 12 months.
But first and foremost, the Evie Ring needs to actually be a good wearable. The company has brilliant ideas about medical grade sensors and FDA approval, but it’s a rookie organisation building its first device.
We’re keen to put it through its paces – and will do so at CES.
Apple Watch X
All the rumours are pointing to a special Apple Watch release in 2024, which will be the 10th anniversary of the smartwatch.
A major design change is being touted, as well as new sensors for sleep apnea and blood pressure.
Apple will also need to overcome its patent battle with Masimo.
Away from a specific device launch – we’re also expecting to see something of a step change from Apple in terms of wellness tracking.
It’s focused on big health metrics, but we do feel it lags as a wellness device, especially when you look at where Whoop, Oura and now Garmin have taken things. Expect a rebalancing this year.
It also seems likely that we will see a revised Whoop in 2024 – even if there are little rumors around this to date.
The current Whoop 4.0 landed in 2021, so it’s overdue an update. As a simple vehicle for sensors, the hardware is relatively unimportant.
However, we’d love to see an upgrade of the heart rate sensor, and a boost in battery life.
Oura Ring Gen 4
Likewise, the Oura Ring Gen 3 has also been out since 2021.
In that time, it hasn't sat still, and brought out the Oura Ring Gen 3 Horizon, an upgraded look.
While Oura is still the leader of the smart ring space, the incumbent is now being challenged by the likes of the Evie Ring, Circular Ring Slim and Ultrahuman Ring Air.
Those improvements only bring rivals to Oura's level of slimness and design.
But if Oura wants to stay one step ahead of the competition, it could do with slimming down its ring even further. It's still very chunky to wear, and not especially female-friendly. We'd love to see that change in 2024.
Samsung Galaxy Ring
The smart ring market is one of the most interesting wearable tech sub-categories, but so far a major player hasn’t made a meaningful contribution.
Samsung has been dropping regular patents and trademarks for its own smart ring, and it feels like 2024 could be the year it's made official.
While it seems unlikely that Samsung could hugely drive the category forward in terms of raw innovation – a wearable behemoth going in on smart rings would bring the category to the mainstream.
Apple Vision Pro
Remember that huge 'spatial computing' headset that Apple launched at WWDC? You know, the one with the virtual eyes and makes your laptop screen the size of a room? Well, that’s going to be coming out this year.
While it’s a niche product, it will be interesting to see the splash, if any, this makes.
And it will be equally interesting to see the effect it has on the rest of the AR/XR industry. If this sgement is going to break into the consumer conscioiusness, it probably should happen now.
The world of wearables and smartwatches has been waiting for a big new sensor to arrive – and it feels that blood pressure is the most likely for 2024.
Samsung has an existing solution on the Galaxy Watch that must be verified with a cuff – and only works if you also have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, so its appeal is limited.
Smartwatches that can detect high/low blood pressure, and bring awareness out there to the millions of hypertension suffers, would be a huge force for good.
It’s been touted for the Apple Watch X, but the technology is also being worked on across the wearables world. So it will be interesting who can bring the functionality, and also implement a helpful and insightful feature onto watches.
It will also mean navigating regulatory bodies to get sign off for use – so there are some big hurdles to navigate.
Sleep apnea got the limelight a few years ago, and Fitbit and Withings offer oxygen variation readings during sleep. However, the devices stop short of talking about sleep apnea, due to limitations of not being medical devices.
We’d expect to see this area move forward, with more prescriptive detection of sleep apnea issues, on mainstream devices.
It's another feature that's been touted for the Apple Watch X, and we'd be surprised if it wasn't a major talking point of Samsung and Pixel Watch releases in 2024.
It seems highly unlikely that we will see non-invasive blood glucose monitoring on devices this year. But we will certainly be closer by the time 2024 is over.
There’s a host of companies with solutions that show promise, such as UK-based Afon, Movano’s RF sensor, as well as Singapore-based Actxa.
While a solution for type 1 diabetics might be unrealistic for now, something that could detect spikes, or unhealthy blood sugar levels for pre-diabetics, could have huge societal benefits.
So expect to see some meaningful progress this year.
AI and wearables
2023 was truly the year of AI, and it’s unlikely to change in 2024. However, we may see a move from impressive yet ultimately useless proof of concepts (such as ChatGPT don’t @ me) to meaningful implementations.
And the wearables industry will be a key area for that.
The potential of AI is to take all the disparate data points from our wearables and make something genuinely unique from them.
That could mean analyzing long-term heart rate trends, mixing in long term sleep data and lifestyle inputs, to tell you something you didn’t know about yourself.
That’s a big goal – and fraught with regulatory challenges. But expect to see the first seeds of that this year, probably led by Apple’s Quartz platform.
Patent war 2.0
It seems we are back to the era of the patent wars of the early wearables age – and there are plenty to keep tabs on.
Apple vs Masimo is clearly a hot topic, but Apple vs AliveCor is also ongoing.
Then there’s Oura vs. Ultrahuman and Circular.
Watch this space for the full ramifications.
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