Many elements bring together the perfect wearable product design brief. Understanding how each of these works together will save you from the headache of having to make drastic (and costly) changes further down the line.
Below we will detail a multitude of considerations for your wearable design, all of which contribute to a successful wearable product.
What is considered a “wearable device”?
Put simply, a wearable technology product is a small, hands-free smart electronic device. Although wearable devices include a broad amount of technology, many of us have familiarised ourselves with wearable tech in the form of smart watches.
Nevertheless, not all smart wearable products are worn on our wrists. Many are worn as accessories on outer clothing, such as a jacket – however, many of us associate wearable smart devices with fitness trackers, allowing the wearer to track more than just their daily steps and health data.
Here are just a few examples of wearable technology:
Smart watches, such as the Apple Watch – One of the most common types of wearable tech, an Apple Watch is considered both a fashion accessory and an extension of our smartphone, with the ability to see notifications at a glance, as well as track health data.
Wearable mobility aid – A wearable mobility device is a small and discreet aid for those that are blind or partially signed, using ultrasound to detect nearby obstacles.
Personal safety devices – A personal safety device is a wearable product designed to alert the wearer of a potential or perceived risk in their environment. This type of wearable device could be used to help the wearer in a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or fall.
A guide to wearable product design
In wearable product design, several limiting constraints can affect your design process. Unlike larger technology, wearable devices can be limited by size, closeness to the skin, battery life and core functionality.
When it comes to wearable design, there are many things to consider. Here are a few to help you get your wearable product design from the drawing board to market.
Work out the product requirements
As we touched upon earlier, there are many constraints relating to wearable product design. Firstly, you will need to map out your product requirements, listing all of your hardware functional needs before overcoming aspects such as battery life and size.
The most important thing to focus on at this stage is what the product is required to achieve. Providing user stories is far more valuable to your design team than a requirement that the device must use a certain technology. Choosing the correct technology to realise this is our speciality.
No matter how impressive your technology is, user experience should be at the forefront of your wearable design plan. Any great wearable product is intuitive and easy to use, for a wide demographic, for the best possible wearable experience.
Wearable design can be challenging for design engineers because the body is always moving, and users want to wear a device that complements their lifestyle, not constrict it.
In addition, user experience is not solely focused on the technology involved in your wearable device. It is important to consider how users will interact with your product, including during sleep, showering and leisure activities. Your wearable device should be focused on becoming an extension of their everyday lives, making it convenient to use your product with features that benefit them.
The most often overlooked aspect of the user experience is how often a wearable device is required to be charged. Users often get frustrated with having to remove a wearable, and hence not benefit from the functionality, for a few hours every few days.
Battery life is a huge element in any smart technology. If we think about the functionality of a smartphone, it is easy to see where existing devices – not just wearables – can face battery life issues.
Maximising battery life whilst minimising the product design is a highly complex task. Understanding the impact of enabling WiFi, Bluetooth and, potentially, GSM at the same time on battery drain is important. Further battery optimisations may be actioned in software and might include putting the device to sleep when not in use and changing the intensity of LEDs or displays.
While wearable design constraints may include size, it is crucial to choose the right battery. Most wearable devices will use a battery that has high energy density, allowing it to operate for its intended run time.
Wearable design and size
Wearable product design goes far beyond a beautiful full display and nailing your interface design. All of the aspects of the wearable design must come together to work perfectly.
For example, the overall size of your wearable device can dictate your choice of battery, which affects battery life and therefore its functionality for its intended run time.
Most wearable products are small, sleek and subtle – users do not want the device to interfere with their space by being too clunky or heavy. To accommodate size limitations, you may have to compromise on some product features. This is where it is especially important to return to your initial product specifications to help determine what is crucial to your wearable design.
Balance functionality and design
There is often an aesthetics functionality trade-off with wearable product design. Compared to designing other technology products, a wearable device requires careful planning due to its complexity.
But that does not necessarily mean you will want to compromise on the look of your product.
Work with us
With wearable product design, it is imperative to understand how core functionality meets design and user experience. An understanding of wearable technology needs, potential design constraints and user interaction are imperative to your product’s success.
Without key knowledge of sensors, user experience, battery life and even the handling of valuable information – wearable design can be a huge challenge.