The Future of Wearables: IEEE’s Eliza Strickland on Health and Wellness

health and wellness wearables

In the third Future of Wearables episode, Eliza Strickland, an associate editor for the international technology magazine IEEE Spectrum, shares her thoughts on the impact wearables could have on healthcare and personal fitness. Strickland frequently writes about innovative technologies. The June issue of IEEE Spectrum is focused on “the human OS” – the human operating system – and how we will cope with the big data of biometric information.

Listen to Episode 3

In conversation with Future of Wearables host Heather Schlegel, Eliza Strickland discusses everything from everyday wearable health applications like stick-on tattoo sensors that detect UV exposure, to life-saving medical applications like wearable vital sign monitors for newborn infants. For wearables to be successful, Strickland believes they need to become an integral part of people’s daily lives. Apps can help them do just that.

The Sourcebits Take

Apps are an ideal tool to help people make and/or break habits – an important element to health and wellness. But how do designers create user experiences that can become a daily part of people’s lives, add value and justify the purchase of a wearable device?

Sourcebits Senior Creative Director David Forgash provided 4 tips about building habitual wearable apps. They’re relevant for health applications, as well as many other industries.

1. Clearly Demonstrate the Value of The Data You Collect

A wearables app is only as good as the data it collects. Your app needs to demonstrate the value of the data you collect, plus the user’s interaction with that data. Make it easy and fun to interact with pieces of the data. For example, a wearables app that tracks sleep might show that the user got 8 hours of sleep and was awake 4 times. A more impactful display also includes an easy to interpret chart showing the specific times during the night when the user was awake and asleep. (The smartphone and/or user emails might then provide tips on how to improve.)

2. Present Data Concisely

Wearables collect a lot of data. If your wearable app’s data is displayed on a smart watch or glasses, showing too much information is overwhelming and impractical. Visualizing and testing the data UI are essential.

3. Reward the User with Positive Reinforcement

Most apps are abandoned after 30 days. Your wearables app has a better chance at user retention when you provide positive feedback. For example, when the user does more than 10k steps, or uses the app a certain number of days in a row, you can create rewards for meeting specific in-app goals. As helpful as graphs and charts are, it’s the social gamification aspect of wearable devices that can really keep people dedicated to their goals – like a leaderboard ranking the user and friends by their weekly step count or calories.

4. Design Matters – Be Mindful of Aesthetics

Someone uses a wearable app for health and wellness because they are working on improvements to their own wellbeing. Great design can generate positive emotions towards the app, increasing engagement and retention. Make sure your app’s visual design conveys the style and tone of the app, the target audience’s preferences, and matches your brand.

It takes between 28 and 45 days for someone to make or break a habit, and it requires consistency. That’s why a well-designed wearables app can be a powerful tool to help people achieve their health and wellness goals.

Let’s Talk Wearable Apps

We love working with clients that seek our mobile design and app development services – and they’ve asked us to create awesome apps for the wearable tech market. A great example of a recent project: Vuzix and their enterprise smart glasses.

If you’re thinking about entering the wearable tech market or have an existing app that you’d like to reimagine for the Apple Watch, smart glasses or other devices – you’ve come to the right place.


Sourcebits is sponsoring The Future of Wearables podcast (sign up to get a weekly email with the latest episode). Each week, host Heather Schlegel interviews mobile industry thought leaders and wearable makers. Read on for this week’s episode, and our take aways.

Piotr Gajos, Chief Innovation Officer

Piotr is Sourcebits Chief Innovation Officer. A 2006 Apple Design Award winner, Piotr draws much of his inspiration from film and music, and focuses on leading our Innovation Strategy Workshops, generating new ideas for Sourcebits, and consulting on projects.