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March 14, 2017

The end of the 20th century witnessed a shift from computers to mobile phones, and today mobile phones also double up as computing devices. We are now witnessing an extension of this trend – instead of carrying mobile devices, customers are wearing them! This lifestyle-technology-digital evolution merger has resulted in a range of wearable devices, also popularly known as wearables.

Wearables are impacting all walks of life – from medical fitness, clothing accessories, cooking instructions, resource tracking, visual and audio aids, to virtual reality. Some use cases also fall in the artificial intelligence (AI) realm. Today, biometric sensors in your smart watch can measure blood pressure, heart rate, and even stress levels and transmit this data, in real time, to your medical consultant. Or just use it to determine your emotional state, and serve you content accordingly. So the next time you are tired, your smart watch may pep you up with your favorite music!

Wearables are also impacting businesses. For example wearables are finding application in the manufacturing sector. When deployed on the shop floor, these smart devices take the form of head mounted displays (HMDs), and assist workers to efficiently perform assembly line tasks such as repairs and inspections. Factories are also using HMDs to communicate with workers, and push directions to the shop floor. Hence, many enterprises are asking if wearables are the next big thing! Can wearables be used to remain in constant touch with customers beyond social channels and enterprise touch points? This cumulative experience, besides providing real-time usage metrics, is also a great way to convert customers to brand ambassadors. Location specific promotions and contextually targeted offers are other add-on benefits that wearables bring to businesses.

As the next frontier, will wearables usher in a revolution in the way we think and function? With technology advancements, combined with AI and Robotics, the virtual world is getting closer to the real world. Will a (not-so-future) use case possibly be a wearable device that captures human thought waves and transmits them as signals to an enterprise Big Data system, generating consumer or medical insights?

Wearable devices have attracted manufacturers globally. Gadgets like Google glass, Fitbit fitness trackers Pebble and Apple Watches are some of the popular products that have helped garner consumer interest in wearables. But will these wearables take over the customers and the enterprises imagination, just like the smartphone? Over 400 million wearable devices worth $34 billion are forecasted to be sold in 2020. By 2018, more than 25 million head-mounted displays (HMDs) are predicted to be sold as immersive devices with virtual world becoming a mainstay. Close to 25 percent of these smart wristbands and other fitness monitors are also expected to be sold through nonretail channels between 2018 and 2020. However, for now, the abandonment rate of these devices remains high. Customers are excited about flaunting the latest wearable devices, but many report boredom after prolonged use. Given the high cost of these devices, customers also do not easily replace them with newer, swankier editions.

The wearable device presents greater responsibility for the Quality Assurance (QA) and Testing function ensuring safe and secure use of these gadgets. QA needs to take the onus of ensuring performance, security and usability aspects of the device leading to retention of customer interest and confidence, greater adoption and retention of these devices. QA must play an active role in this evolution, and not just be a passive spectator. More on this in our next blog.

Kanthi is leading assets & innovation for Mobility Assurance CoE in Assurance Services unit, TCS. She has over 17 years of experience in pre-sales, mobile consultancy and test automation, program management, and development of new offerings. A voracious reader with a penchant for developing automation tools, she has conceptualized and implemented "Remote Android Blackbox Instructive Tests" or 'RABBIT' for platform level testing of Android devices. Prior to working with TCS, she has successfully worked as an automation consultant towards the launch of phone models for popular device vendors.


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