Why Wearable Tech Won’t Last Long
Wearable technology as we know it will likely not long last unless it undergoes serious changes. At the moment: it’s flawed, it is “Relentlessly Inessential” and it’s still too basic to be economically viable for the majority of consumers. 4.6 million smart wearable bands were shipped in 2014, with those numbers expected to increase this year with the release of the Apple Smart watch. Devices such as the Samsung Gear have been known to see a return rate as high as 30%, could we see these devices start to disappear over the next few years?
The mobile phone is often cited as the reason the wristwatch is in cultural decline. With people carrying a digital clock in their pocket, the need for a separate purchase to tell the time is seen as unnecessary by many. With mobile phones being a requirement for many of us, wrist watch sales gradually faded in younger generations. However, the advent of the smart watch caused many companies to hope that this new twist on a classic piece of technology would bring watches back in to the norm. Whilst being a great concept, for the vast majority of users they just aren’t useful.
Receiving a notification to your phone more often than not prompts a response of some kind. You get a missed call, you reply. You see a SMS, you reply. In fact four of the five most common notifications would usually elicit a quick response of some kind. To reply to a call using a smartwatch (when possible) is incredibly inconvenient and unnecessary, to reply to any form of written notification will either involve talking to your wrist or using an overly small and impractical keyboard. With the majority of people being uncomfortable with speaking to devices in public, they will tend to reply by phone anyway. This results in a creation of an unnecessary 3rd party.
At the moment Android Wear devices are incompatible with iOS devices and it has been confirmed that the Apple watch will also be incompatible with Android devices, this means that unless you plan on sticking to your platform you could end up wasting a large amount of money on a device that you won’t be able to use with your next phone. This in itself could dissuade people from moving from iPhones to android devices and vice versa and should be addressed for the sake of sales. It is not likely that someone will choose a device solely on its ability to be compatible with a slightly different peripheral.
Other Smart Bands
Fitness bands: These bands keep track of useful information for people who have an interest in getting and remaining fit, whilst being novel and exciting what do you do with this influx of information? Basing your exercise around it is probably not a great idea as they have already been found to be inaccurate. The kind of market these bands appeal to over the long term are the kind of people who already exercise regularly and more than likely have a regime planned out. For the rest of us they are just another unnecessary implementation of an expensive gadget in to our lives.
Security wearables: To quote Nymi, a company founded in 2011 that produce a band that allows you to unlock devices based on your “hearts unique signature”, “The question on everyone’s minds now is: When will you ship the Nymi Band? The answer is: Once we are able to make it truly useful for you, the everyday end user.” This quote says everything, at the moment these devices just aren’t useful for the majority of us, so besides the novelty aspect of using a fancy bracelet to unlock your computer, we have no need for these devices. Personally I log on to various computers dozens of times a day and doing so takes so little time and effort that there is no real way of making this more streamlined without actually making the process more complex.
When Google released Glass many people immediately took offence at these new devices stating that they could be easily used for privacy violations. The concept again was a great idea, although this perception of the device by the public was a major factor in bad publicity. Many places banned the devices as a result, if Smart Glasses are to become popular this issue will need to be faced. The adaptation/removal of the camera means one of the devices key features will be taken away resulting in a smaller target audience in a market where every sale is necessary. The look of the devices also plays a large factor in their success or failure. Unless you’ve always wanted to appear like you’re a character from Star Trek, societal pressure will always cause a reduction in the uptake of these devices.
Whilst wearables at the moment are heavily flawed, the future could see these devices become easier to use, more aesthetically pleasing and generally more useful. I however can’t see them ever gaining a user uptake anywhere near that of Smartphones. At the moment there just isn’t the need for them.
Do you have a use for wearable tech? Leave us a comment below! To see more on the Smartwatch Revolution in 2014, read Mario’s article here.