What makes a wearables product successful? As 2015 draws to a close, this
question still remains unanswered for most people. Why is this?
The barriers to entry to build a wearable are relatively low. Microcontrollers
and sensors, the building blocks of many wearables, have become cheaper and
more widely available than ever before. Crowdfunding websites are full of
start-ups with next great wearable products that are often over funded. So why
have so many failed to launch? Or why are those that have launched, failed to
resonate with customers?
The wearables market is evolving and experiencing growing pains. Customer
value is still unclear and this has prevented many wearables to
“stick” and then be abandoned rapidly. Wearables offer that
ability to totally revolutionize the way we interact and use technology.
However, the challenges faced in getting a wearable to market are also forcing
an industry transformation. Wearables are pushing design and manufacturing
into unchartered territory — miniaturizing design, placing electronic
components on plastics and curved surfaces while using conductive adhesives.
This design environment is exemplified by the following quotes:
“It’s called hardware for a reason – it’s
– Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Mosaic and Netscape
“No hardware plan survives contact with a factory.”
– Cyril Ebersweiler, founder of HAX Accelerator
WaRP, a wearable reference platform, was developed by Freescale and partners
to help designers overcome these challenges. WaRP shortens time to
market by delivering a wearable form-factor platform based on a hybrid
architecture with a multimedia applications processor and a
microcontroller, to address the varied usage models for the wearables market.
The open source design allows developers to take the platform as a starting
point and innovate without licensing restrictions.
During the development and manufacturing of WaRP, we faced many of the same
issues our customers struggle with:
Components designed for smart phones are small and low powered but are
expensive and have unpredictable short life cycles
Designing small complex boards can result in expensive manufacturing
processes and delays
The future of the wearables market is hard to predict, but constant change and
adaption are guaranteed. Evolving with this changing market, Freescale is
developing a next generation WaRP 7 which will be based on the i.MX 7Solo
applications processor. The WaRP 7 takes the learnings from WaRP and
delivers an innovative platform that utilizes the heterogeneous architecture
of an Arm Cortex-A7 and a Cortex-M4 core to deliver a high performance, low
power architecture specifically designed for wearables.
To help ensure that WaRP 7 will meet wearable development key challenges, and
to help ensure low cost component availability and design for
manufacturability, Freescale is partnering with Element14 to design,
manufacture and support the platform. Element 14’s experience in small
form factor design, manufacturing capability and experience in supporting the
development community will enable any wearable project to utilize WaRP7 and
potentially finally answer the question, what is needed to be successful in
the wearables market.
For more details on what’s coming, go to
or visit the Freescale booth #500 at Arm Tech Con
this week (Nov 10-12) at the Santa Clara Convention Center.
Robert Thompson is Chief Enablement Architect for i.MX