Nok Nok Labs claims that its new SDK can make smartwatches more secure and better equipped to take over from phones
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Smartwatches are an ever-growing sector of the wearables market in terms of uptake and commercial success: a recent report from the group Strategy Analytics asserted that smartwatch shipments worldwide increased by 44% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2019 (2Q2019). Of these, a small but steadily-growing sub-set of devices have the specs (e.g. mobile connectivity or FDA-approved ECG monitors) that allow them to work independently of smartphones.
These functions may help to drive estimates that as many as 1 in 10 Americans may own a smartwatch by the end of 2019. Most of these people are thought to be 55 years or older; this age group may be attracted to the products for their potential health-tracking benefits.
Accordingly, some groups (which even include the OEM Samsung) now assert that smartwatches, along with wearables in general, are in a position to take the place of conventional hand-held mobile devices - even in professional or pro-sumer environments. Not bad for a category that mainly started off as nice-to-have accessories in the fitness and general gadgetry arenas. Then again, even the most powerful and capable of watches may still lag behind phones in one important area: security.
It is often now possible to use particularly info-rich apps, even browsers, on these wearables. However, the data that goes through them in these respects may do so in the presence of Oauth tokens at best, even though some of the same devices are set up to integrate into systems such as Google Pay or smart-home networks. The security group Nok Nok Labs claims to have developed a solution to this potential issue. Its new App SDK is touted to bring FIDO-based authentication that is compatible with smartwatches.
The lab asserts that their new kit can upgrade smartwatches and their apps with a "strong, device-bound credential that doesn’t need frequent renewal". The new app template may also help the device category to adopt ongoing, standardized authentication as part of the general digital environment in the future.
Nok Nok's app SDK is available now to developers that may want to try it out for their wearable purposes. Its successful compilation may indeed help smartwatches become more like full mobile PCs - then all they would need is the proper SoC, RAM and storage specs to seal that deal.
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