Wearables Drive Component Technology Innovation

Wearables Drive The Component Technology Innovation

For years, many of the key components of wearables have been drafting off the strengths of the smartphone supply chain. During the last two years, the application processors and sensors for wrist and head-worn wearable products have more or less been taken off the parts bin of low and mid-tier smartphones. This is typical of the early stages of any new mobile device category introduction, as manufacturers carefully balance features, performance, form factor and price for an unknown market. Using proven components with the economy of scale helps maintain this balance as new devices are introduced to the market. A downside of this approach has been old and suboptimal technology finding its way onto wearables in the market today. For example, the Texas Instruments (TI) OMAP mobile processor, which was designed out of smartphones around 2013 when TI exited the mobile market, has been found in nearly every smart glasses device and even on the popular first generation Moto 360 smartwatch. Many of the micro displays found in smart glasses today originate from electronic viewfinders and pico projector devices. These have far more tolerant power consumption and heat dissipation requirements, given their larger size, which made them ideal for use in wearable devices. While the Frankenstein treatment of parts from other devices can create a wearable device, ultimately, this practice will result in products that deliver an unsatisfactory user experience, particularly around form factor, battery life and comfort. In 2016 we are seeing the tide turn. Manufacturers across the entire mobile industry supply chain are introducing new products directly targeted for wearables. Processors are getting smaller and more power efficient and performance is tuned for the unique needs of the category. The entire industry of flexible electronics, batteries and displays are being driven largely […]