Four Most In-Demand Programming Languages and Frameworks For Wearables

By Drew Hendricks July 25, 2016

It’s no secret that development and programming are very highly sought-after skills these days. Various tech jobs are consistently among the highest paying jobs in America, alongside doctors and lawyers, and as the tech world continues to influence other industries, be it medicine, manufacturing or finance, the demand for programmers will only grow. There are all sorts of different languages and frameworks to pick from when it comes to development, though, so how do you choose which one is best for you to master? That decision partially depends on your specific skill sets and interests, but it is also worth taking into consideration the tech trends that are poised for major growth in the coming years.

One such area of the tech world primed to take off in the near future is wearable technology. Research from Gartner reports that the wearable industry has grown by 18.4 percent in 2016, adding up to a total revenue of $28.7 billion in sales. In the long term, some projections estimate that the wearable market will be worth $34 billion by 2020. It seems like everyone is investing in wearables these days, whether it’s fashion brands or insurance companies, and those impressive numbers suggest that getting into the wearables game right now would be a very wise career move.

If you are interested in capitalizing on the huge potential of this industry, though, you’ll want to hone in on the languages and skill sets crucial to wearable development. With that in mind, here are the four most in-demand languages and frameworks for wearable technology.

1. C/C++

Many engineers wanting to get hands-on with wearable equipment use Arduino development kits to experiment with building their own wearable devices from scratch. If you’ve taken the plunge with the very popular Arduino kits in order to build wearable hardware but you also want to develop the compatible software as well, then C and C++ are great languages to learn. Arduino’s integrated development environment (IDE) and native “Arduino language” are written in a combination of C and C++, meaning these languages are crucial for designing the software that communicates with the wearable device built with an Arduino kit. Additionally, C and C++ are both very valuable languages outside the context of wearables; Stack Overflow’s 2016 Developer Survey reports that both C and C++ are in the top ten most popular technologies among developers.

2. Immersion Instinctive Alerts

The science of physically-felt notifications (i.e. vibrations), called haptic feedback, is a topic of much discussion in wearables right now. Chris Ullrich, vice president of User Experience at Immersion, a leading company in touch feedback technology, argues that the current system of vibration notifications on mobile devices like phones and tablets won’t work for wearables. “When someone gently touches your arm or grasps your wrist, that feeling conveys a specific meaning,” Ullrich says. “Most wearables miss the mark by using haptics to repeatedly disrupt activities or require users to memorize notification meaning, like learning a new language.” Immersion Interactive Alerts, a new programming framework from Immersion, encourages programmers to tap into the psychology of wearables by offering platforms to develop emotion-based means of conveying such things as urgency in notifications without audio or visual assistance. Injecting more of the human element into wearable devices, Immersion Interactive Alerts looks to be on the cusp of a trend in wearable development with huge potential.

3. Java

Now, let’s say you’re in the market for building an app, specifically one that’s compatible with wearables. If you’re developing an Android app, one language is an absolute must-know: Java. Owned and maintained by Oracle, Java is the official language for Android development, and many of Android’s APIs are written in Java. Android development for wearables is also continuing to become a strong portion of the wearable market. Google’s Android Wear operating system is compatible with a great range of smartwatches, including offerings from the fashion-forward LG Watch Urbane to the fitness-oriented Moto 360 Sport and everything in between. Android Wear is even compatible with the Apple Watch and iOS now. This kind of flexibility means that those who can develop apps for Android wearables will be in high demand. On top of that, Java is just a good language to learn outside the world of wearables. It came in at number three on the previously mentioned Stack Overflow survey of popular technologies, and according to Java’s website, 89 percent of desktops in the U.S. run Java.

4. Swift

If you are developing an app, it’s a very wise decision to make a native iOS version of it for Apple devices. Yes, Android Wear might be applicable to more devices, but the Apple Watch is a titan on its own, outselling even the iPhone in its first year. Along with Android apps in the Google Play store, Apple’s app store is far and away among the most popular sites for downloading apps, so if you want to work with Apple devices at all, you’ll need to learn Swift. And, with reports suggesting Google might make Swift compatible with Android, the language could extend its reach even farther into such devices as medical wearables. An updated take on Apple’s stalwart Objective-C language, Swift is surging in popularity these days, and as more app makers scramble to make a version of their smartphone app compatible with wearable devices, Swift programmers who know how to bridge the gap between phones (or tablets) and wearables will be highly valued for a long time to come.

We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg these days in terms of the potential of wearable technology. Its uses and applications continue to proliferate, and the numbers show an industry only continuing to grow in the coming years. If you’re looking to get a leg up in the wearable market, start by learning one of these languages or frameworks today! 




Edited by Alicia Young
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