The Wondrous World of Wearable Technology: Smaller Electronic Designs Means Bigger Opportunities

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Wearable Technology Electronics Manufacturing

Watches. Glasses. Socks. Even dog collars. The market for wearable technology has exploded. Whether people want to count their steps, keep tabs on their heart rate, track their sleeping patterns, or get answers based on what they are looking at, everyone is flocking to wearables. Wearable technology is becoming seamlessly integrated into our lives and with each new development, audiences look to the next big thing, which means an ever-increasing demand for even smaller electronic design technologies.

Wearable Technology Requirements

Wearable technology needs to be intelligent enough to collect data, process the data, and analyze it with a meaningful result. For example, a bracelet that measures your heart-rate over a given period and can highlight anomalies or make recommendations utilizing baseline data.

Wearables technology needs to be practically invisible, flexible, comfortable, easy to access for charging or replacing, and rugged—able to take a licking and keep on ticking, so to speak.

Electronics for wearable technology include:

  • The most common sensor is an accelerometer—an inertial measurement that tracks a specific movement, its direction, and its intensity or speed. Measurements can include pressure, temperature, speed, and position.
  • In order to deliver the results of the analysis, communication with the outside world is necessary for any wearable technology. Wireless connectivity using short-range radio or other wireless protocols are most common, but there are wearables which rely on connectivity through a USB port.
  • Wearable technology requires power, which is typically obtained through a connecting port for power to recharge the battery. There are new technologies using wireless power charging, although that brings additional complications such as a requirement for waterproofing, higher heat generation, and slower charging. Long battery life is also very important to make sure the wearables are useful.
  • User Interaction. Most wearable technology is small to be easily integrated however, that poses a challenge for user interaction. Engineers must maintain a balance between how much can fit on a small display and how readable the resulting information is. Sometimes it makes more sense to not have a display at all and send the data to the user’s cell phone or laptop for a better user experience.
  • Multi-tasking wearables are becoming more popular as the wearable real-estate narrows. Consumers would rather have one watch that does 15 features than 15 different wearables. The more applications a wearable can run, the more complicated the other components noted above will become.

Looking to the Future of Wearables

In short, the future of wearables appears to be “go small, or go home.” As companies roll out new wearable devices and new treatments, such as embedding them in fabric, wearable technology electronics manufacturers are tasked with creating progressively smaller and more robust components. Users are also looking for more sophisticated features and services, like mobile messaging and advanced location services. Combined with sensors, computer chips, cameras, and speakers that all continue to shrink, hardware is becoming more complicated and intrinsic, making development and packaging a challenge.

Trends are pointing to a more sophisticated form of wearable—one that is integrated into everyday clothing. Your socks can measure your steps, or your shirt will measure your heart rate. This brings forth an entirely new set of challenges, requiring sensors and electronics which are embedded into textiles to be flexible, comfortable, unobtrusive, and washable. If you’re looking to get into the wearables technology market, make sure you consider:

  • Insulated, robust, and waterproof terminations that are reliable.
  • Flexible antenna and transceiver solutions.
  • Insulated wire which is stretch-conductive.
  • Batteries that are both small and dryable.
  • Printed circuit boards (PCBs) and flexible printed circuitry (FPC) that are crease and crimp resistant.

Find an Electronics Manufacturing Services Partner That Understands the Wearables Technology Market

Technology is only going to become more integrated into our lives, and the idea of smart-technology chips embedded into our bodies is no longer a science-fiction phenomena. Keeping up with the trends and needs of the market is something ACDi prides itself on and we’ll work with you to ensure your products meet the requirements of this ever-changing and increasingly complicated industry.

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