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Wearable Technology and the challenge of Fragmentation

By: Parminder Sohal, Director of Mobile Innovation, Hewlett Packard Company


word cloud.pngA new engagement model is emerging where the interaction with end users will involve use of sensors that detect motion and biometric data as part of a new class of mobile applications. Markets are already promoting innovation and discovering new use cases in different industries.


Mobility in the Health and Fitness industry is a leading catalyst in exploring sensor-based interaction models, like wearable devices. These sensors, along with mobile apps, will become the tools that lay the groundwork for digitizing humans; driving the implementation of technology to the individual level rather than population level. This will also lead to a paradigm shift in the field of medicine. These new sensor-based mobile application innovations make it possible for consumers to use portable devices to access their medical information, monitor their vital signs, take tests at home and carry out a wide range of tasks.


In his book "The Creative Destruction of Medicine," Eric Topol, a cardiologist, geneticist and researcher, describes how medicine is entering an age of democratization as power shifts from hospitals, doctors and other caregivers to patients, potentially leading to dramatic health care improvements.


However, with this evolving interaction model comes new challenges. End users expect a flawless user experience and performance of mobile applications when they are running, eating, sleeping, or anytime in-between.

Mobile device fragmentation is already a bigger challenge for mobile application development and testing. It basically occurs when some mobile users are running older versions of an operating system, while other users are running newer versions. It is the inability of mobile applications to "write once and run anywhere."

First dimension fragmentation was introduced in applications world by file systems fragmentation, internal and external data and memory fragmentation and different browser configurations. Mobile devices added a second dimension to fragmentation and wearable devices will add a new third dimension of fragmentation to applications. It will be a very big challenge to developers and testers to maintain a high level of quality and performance for mobile applications amidst these fragmentations. Ignoring the fragmentation matrix will impact and slow down the adoption of wearable applications.


The following steps can be taken to reduce the impact of this third dimension of fragmentation to mobile:

  1. No end-to-end mobile management solution exists today for the new third dimension of fragmentation of mobile – Wearable Technology. The best way to mitigate this risk is to manage the devices, not the wearables. Wearables become extension of the mobile device.
  2. Be aware of what data can “leak” to a wearable device. Data leakage occurs when sensitive data is disclosed to unauthorized personnel either by malicious intent or inadvertent mistake.To protect your corporate data, containerizing mobile applications and implementing a Mobile Device Management solution is recommended.
  3. The user experience will always be very important, but test-driven mobile application development will become critical.   As these devices are connected via Bluetooth, Wired or Wifi, testing the mobile application for functional and nonfunctional requirements will be critical for high rating and performance. 

Wearable technologies are going to become main stream in next few years. They will enable the gathering of end user behavior data that is far more pure and granular. This will have a far reaching impact on personal health improvement and wellness programs that aim to reduce medical costs. It will come with new technology challenges which our experiences and lessons learned from earlier mobile device fragmentation challenges can help us to overcome.


Previous blogs featuring Parminder Sohal:

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About the Author


Picture1.pngParminder Sohal, Director of Mobile Innovation, Hewlett Packard Company

Parminder is the Director of Mobile Innovation at HP. He is responsible for driving strategic mobility initiatives that enable clients to leverage the mobile channel to both extend their brands and effectively reach their customers, constituents, partners, and employees. Parminder is an active participant in several industry advisory councils to help government and industry exchange information and collaboration on technology issues in various industries. He is also a member of HP Mobility and Testing Global Technical Console team.

| ‎05-07-2014 02:29 PM

A couple of months back I wrote a post about Context Recognition as a Service -- looking at what happens when these wearables can work together and draw upong greater contextual awareness that might exist. If your wearable knows what you are probably trying to do, could it provide even better advice/support. I think this is an area where we are going to see some real innovation -- taking the engagement model you mentioned to a whole new level.

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About the Author
Parminder Sohal is the Director of Mobile Innovation at HP. In this role, he is responsible for driving strategic mobility initiatives, key ...

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