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Wearable Wireless is Becoming Fashionable (.PDF Download)

Oct. 4, 2018
Wearable Wireless is Becoming Fashionable (.PDF Download)

Wireless telephone users may feel naked walking out of the house without their cell phones. But the day is drawing near where the cell phone may be joined by other wireless devices on a person, as dependence on wireless technology grows for communication, location, and even healthcare. Wearable wireless devices are increasingly combining function with fashion—a trend that’s expected to continue with the emergence of support from 5G wireless networks.

The earliest wearable wireless devices have typically been some form of radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag that have been used to keep track of small children and pets, or elderly users in need of special monitoring or medical requirements. Another form of short-range wireless technology, such as Bluetooth, is often combined on the same monitoring device for additional communications capabilities. Products such as audio hearing aids and headphones have been available for some time with some form of short-range wireless technology, to free users from the entanglement of wired connections.

Market Drivers

The strong current market growth in wearable wireless devices centers around “smart watches” and the increasing use of wireless technology for electronic devices that keep users informed in some way, such as medical-monitoring and healthcare-tracking functions. As with cell phones, the earliest smart watches have been bulky, attempting to cram as much wireless transceiver electronics as possible into the small volume of a wristwatch to enable some form of wireless near-field communication (NFC), such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

Much credit, of course, is due to Apple Inc. and the clever marketing of its Apple Watch “smart watches” (now available in Series 4 products). They pack NFC capabilities and supporting displays into a compact, watch-sized device that’s as wearable as a conventional time-keeping watch. The Apple Watches build on the popularity of the company’s iPhone cell phones and their multifunctional capabilities. Apple Watches (Fig. 1), like other wearable wireless devices, make use of available wireless bands typically reserved for short-range wireless communications, such as the 2.4- and 5.0-GHz Wi-Fi frequency bands and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) bands.