The Next Boom
Self-motivation, self-learning, self-monitoring of health, self-security – the control is shifting to individuals thanks to wearable devices that help them monitor, assess and improve a range of measurable activities. From sports, fitness, infotainment to gaming, the wearable devices have become popular for a variety of reasons, enabling healthcare professionals, insurance, educationists, and even friends and neighbors to interact differently in achieving personal goals.
Another report by IDTechEx suggests that from over $30bn in 2016, wearable tech market will grow 10 per cent annually to touch $40bn in 2018; accelerate to 23 per cent to be $100bn by 2023; and plateau at 11 per cent to reach over $150bn by 2026.
Among the different segments, Transparency Market Research expects the global market for wearable medical devices – such as heart rate monitors, activity monitors, ECG, pulse oximeters – to grow from at $2.0 billion in 2012 to $5.8 billion in 2019. Tractica predicts worldwide shipments for healthcare wearables to increase from 2.5 million in 2016 to 97.6 million units annually by 2021, generating $17.8 billion revenue annually.
A Forbes magazine report states that the wearable medical device industry alone is expected to grow to $6 billion dollar in the next 18 months, changing the way patients and providers interact with each other.
Technavio analysts forecast the global smart wearable entertainment devices and services market to grow at a CAGR of 22.64 per cent and 22.35 per cent between 2016 and 2020.
In the US alone, classroom wearables market is expected to grow 46 percent annually to touch $4 billion by 2020. The global market may see growth rates of 36 per cent per year, to cross $6 billion in revenue.
The Steps to Watch
While the market is booming and promises to continue to do so, the wearables segment is not without its challenges. Developers have to cater to a diverse range of platforms, from iOS to Android Wear to Tizen. Complying with the APIs specific to the different platforms is critical for the functionality of the wearable device, and not made easy by the fact that many are still in the development stage.
QA – In this scenario, testers have their jobs cut out for them. They will need to be creative in developing new use cases to test for functionality, performance, UI and regression.
Compliance testing – We are dealing with critical data related to health, personal safety and education when we talk of wearable tech. Compliance to data security standards, standards prescribed for health and related information, education, etc. are important. Therefore, testers should be qualified and certified to perform these tests too to ensure compliance.
Hardware safety – The device is worn close to the skin, or on the skin itself. Though emulators are used to test the functions, the safety of the hardware is just as important, as knowing if the app will behave exactly the same way in the device. QA should include testing the application on the actual device to make sure it works fine but also that the device is safe.
To successfully test wearable apps, the best approach to testing it would be:
- Identify and create test cases based on the part of body the device will be worn – head/eye, wrist, clothing… The gestures and method of operation will be different for each and knowing how it works will help narrow down the testing process
- For both hardware and software, identify the criticality of the features based on the purpose for which it has been created.
Having the right resources – the devices to expertise – will further enhance the testing process and accuracy of results.