By the end of 2016, it’s estimated that the wearable technology market will hit roughly $14 billion. By 2019, that number is projected to grow to $25 billion, accounting for more than 200 million smart wearable devices. While some products burst onto the market and capture the fleeting attention of consumers (think e-readers that once had 25 million units and now are expected to dip down to 7 million in the US by 2017), wearables tell a different a story.
Consumers aren’t growing tired of wearables; rather, the category is expanding with companies developing a growing array of products that capitalize on both design and function to empower customers to embrace the use of these devices as self improvement tools.
Thanks to the likes of Apple and Google and many other companies, we now know it’s possible for both design and functionality to work in tandem to anticipate our every move and even suggest a better one the next time around. The companies that are successfully capturing the growing market share know it’s not just about enhancing product capabilities or upgrading the design. It’s about both—marrying practicality with aesthetics.
Former president of the Design Management Institute, Thomas Lockwood, proposed the idea of the Design Mix. Similar to the “Marketing Mix” coined by Neil Borden, Lockwood suggested that businesses understand the power of design in terms of offering true business value. Collaborate, innovate, differentiate, simplify, and excel at customer experience—these would form the foundation of the matrix.
A few brands are using unconventional partnerships to tackle this method. Google ATAP and Levi’s, for example, have teamed up to produce a smart jacket aimed at cyclists. The Project Jacquard platform integrates with Google Maps and third party apps. A conductive yarn is installed as a sensor on the sleeve, allowing wearers to control activities—such as navigating or listening to music—they would normally need to check their phone to complete. The partnership illustrates that functionality and fashion need not be mutually exclusive.
Other companies such as Moov Now (a personal fitness coach users can wear on their wrists) are rethinking the way consumers use smart devices to push themselves outside of their comfort zones. “I needed a personal fitness coach who understood my body’s limits, motivated me, and watched out for me,” says CEO and co-founder of Moov, Meng Li. Meng noted that the majority of user reviews are from individuals who previously hated exercising but realized they needed an extra push from a product that actually led them through a workout rather than merely tracked steps or performance.
For Moov, design is a key component of how they inspire users to consistently integrate the product into their lives. The smaller design, flexible material, and lighter weight create an overall more breathable design. Not as detectable but still as crucial are the sensors that ensure accuracy: they’re the same ones used by rocket scientists to build strategic missiles. Moov capitalized on an existing trend and elevated both the design and functionality to produce an award-winning product that users have come to rely on to improve their wellbeing.
While wearable technology is leading the charge in the blend of style and functionality, other larger products such as cars and airplanes are taking a similar approach. The all-new INFINITI Q60, for example, set to be released in August 2016, combines both artistry and technology to empower drivers to expect more from their vehicles.
The power behind the fusion of design and technology lies in its ability to inspire users. Because once users feel empowered to embrace devices and products to improve their own lives, others around them will be inspired to do the same.
This article was produced on behalf of INFINITI by the Quartz creative services and not by the Quartz editorial staff.