Wearable Electronics Powered by Plastics

smart watch

One of today’s hottest electronic products is the activity tracker—watches, bands, clips, and other gadgets that count and report on your daily physical activity, from heart rate to sleep patterns to the number of steps taken per day.

These devices help spur health-conscious athletes or weekend warriors to stay active. But there’s a catch to all this mobility: the device probably will take a licking.

Accidents happen, right? If you work out in a club or gym, you eventually will bang your tracker against fitness equipment. If you’re exercising outdoors, you may run into nasty weather or even take a tumble.

Protecting your pricey electronics from wear and tear is one of the key reasons why many wearable activity trackers are made with plastics. Plastics bring a wide range of benefits to wearables, such as:

  • Durability: Plastics are a great choice for wearable electronics because they’re durable and long lasting. Plastics add the other meaning of “wear” to wearables.
  • Scratch resistance: Plastics are highly scratch resistant, which is helpful since wearables often get scraped and scuffed during the course of everyday activity.
  • Flexibility: Want to try a tricky new yoga position? Many trackers made with plastics will move with you.
  • Lightweight: Wearables made with lightweight plastics can feel almost like wearing nothing at all—many people say they forget that they’re wearing anything, which leads to the next benefit …
  • Resistant to water: Oops, forgot to take off the tracker when stepping into the shower? Many wearables made with plastics are water resistant, and some can even be submerged in water, according to the manufacturers.

Wearable devices may feel like a fad, but Citigroup analysts predict that “a wearables market that includes sport fitness bands, watches, and apparel” could become worth $30 billion annually. As wearable technology grows in popularity, plastics likely will continue to fuel innovations in these high tech, lightweight, durable devices.