Wearables Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

Wash your hands

Once upon a time, basic wearables used to buzz at us all to remind us to get out of our chairs and walk around. Well, it looks like the buzzer is back, but this time to remind us to wash our hands. Both WearOS and Tizen both come with apps to remind us, every few hours, to cleanse. Both come with additional timers to make sure the wearer stays at the sink long enough for it to count.

The NPD Take:

  • It’s simple, and probably quite effective, as an add-on. And every little reminder helps as we all self-isolate and try to stay COVID-19 free. Quite how both apps forgot to add the Happy Birthday tune (twice, of course) to go along with the timer… but good enough.
  • More seriously, wearables are trying to find their footing in the COVID-19 era. Sales of smartwatches are down significantly, so anything that helps drive adoption is a good step forward.

Another day, another study

Yet another study is starting to see if smartwatches can help detect COVID-19, and other infections. This one, from Stanford and Scripps Research will use Fitbit devices, as well as wearables from a range of other vendors, to look for elevated heart rates and increased temperatures. The goal is to be able to warn the wearer of any risk as early as possible… ideally even before the symptoms are apparent to you, in a bid to promote more effective quarantines.

The NPD Take:

  • This is, frankly, the money shot for wearables right now. When a smartwatch can detect illness at the earliest stages – and then potentially inform our doctors who can suggest prescriptive measures – then we’ll see more consumers, particularly older ones, buying into wearable tech.

Panic on the streets of … anywhere?

A new rumor about the Apple Watch Series 6 suggests that the next gen device will track for signs of a panic attack, offering guided breathing advice to help the wearer get things back under control again. Just as importantly, the Watch is expected to track behavior just before the attack to try and find ways to avoid the panic attacks in the first place. Of course, we are still some way off from an actual launch, so any rumors right now need to be taken with a grain of salt… or perhaps as great development ideas for any smartwatch OEM out there.

The NPD Take:

  • The rumored addition would be another great enhancement to smartwatch healthcare tracking. We are slowly seeing these wearables move from telling you what happened, to pre-empting issues and that makes them far more valuable to a broad range of consumers.


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