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2016 will be the year wearables disappear, says VC

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2016: The year of disappearing wearables
2016: The year of disappearing wearables

New Enterprise Associates venture capital partner Rick Yang predicts that wearables will "disappear" in 2016. The first generation, like the Apple Watch, Google Glass, Fitbit and Jawbone, has opened the door to a slew of new, more fashionable products, said Yang.

"What that means is the wearable that integrates very directly into your everyday life, into your existing fashion sense to the extent that nobody knows you're wearing a wearable," he said.

"And as a consumer, you actually don't feel like you're wearing a wearable," Yang said.

Source: TAG Heuer

As the market matures, luxury brands will start selling their own versions of the Apple Watch, said Yang.

"At the premium end of the spectrum, it's something like a Tag Heuer, right? It looks like a Tag, but it provides much more functionality than a Tag," he said.

Yang highlighted venture-backed start-up Athos, which makes smart workout clothes embedded with technology that tracks muscle groups, heart and breathing rates, as an example of a company seamlessly integrating technology.

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"You go through your normal workout routine, you don't worry about what you're wearing or what you're doing," he said. "And afterwards, it provides all the data and all of the insights into how you're working out, what muscles were firing without you having to input anything into there."

"That's what I think about, when I think about the utility of not really having to feel like you're wearing any sort of hardware. But it just being useful and providing a great value to the consumer in that standpoint," he said.

It's a crowded market. Athos is one of many start-ups at the cutting edge of wearable technology — others include Hexoskin, WiseWear and Omsignal.

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The ultimate smart wearable? Tattoos.

"The tattoo market is one of those huge markets that nobody has really tapped into from a tech standpoint," said Yang. "I think it could be a huge market."

"Our big thesis has been that wearables will mirror fashion. I think tattoos are one of the ultimate fashion statements and so it's only a matter of time before that gets penetrated by technology as well," he said.