With Google Glass still a niche product for the rich, smartwatches not yet proving their worth, and fitness trackers only having limited usefulness, the longterm prospects for wearable technology are still up for debate.
Which is exactly what we tackled in last week’s We Ask You discussion.
Opinion Split On Future Of Wearable Technology
We asked you, Is Wearable Technology The Future, Or A Fad? We wanted to get a snapshot of people’s views on this emerging trend which encompasses any device that is worn about the body. The obvious examples, as suggested above, are Google Glass and its variants, smartwatches, and fitness trackers. But there are plenty of other forms of wearable technology in the works.
We had a disappointing number of responses to the question, but those who did air their views on the subject were vocal enough to make up for the lack of respondents. Interestingly, the comments were very evenly split in their opinions on wearable technology, with half suggesting it was a fad, the other half suggesting it’s an inevitable future.
Part of the problem appears to be the actual appearance of this form of technology and how we look wearing it. Like any form of technology, early-adopters look odd and uneasy using it – until it becomes the norm, at which point those who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon become the anomalies.
Google will undoubtedly work on making Google Glass look less menacing and more innocuous than it does at present. And, though I personally hate to admit it, we may have to wait until Apple unveils the iWatch before smartwatches come of age. What happens from that point on is up to consumers.
Comment Of The Week
We received a lot of great comments, including those from Likefunbutnot and Dalsan M. Comment Of The Week goes to Tom W, who won with this comment:
Right here, right now, it is a fad. It’s something that people only buy to say “I have this thing”. There needs to be a massive change in what people think of when they are discussing wearable technology, starting with:
1) It has to be useful. More useful than what I currently own. I don’t wear a watch because I can tell the time from my phone, so I’m definitely not going to buy a smart watch because it does less than my phone and costs far too much money. Google glass costs far more than that and still can’t match the device I carry around in my pocket. Which brings me onto the next point.
2) It has to be cheap. You can tell how much money people will spend on technology by using their phone as a baseline. The price of any wearable technology has to match phones based on price and features. If it has less features, it should cost a lot less than a phone, if it has more than it can be priced higher, but not by a large amount. Most people these days don’t have bottomless bank accounts.
3) It has to be independent. I don’t need to be carrying around another device. If wearable technology is going to succeed, it should remove the need for a big, bulky phone, rather than relying on a phone to do all the legwork.
4) It has to be wearable. By this I mean that people have to want to wear it. Wearable technology is crossing the boundary between functionality and fashion, which means that some people will only wear it if they see it as a proper accessory. It has to look good, go with multiple outfits, and be cheap enough that several designs can be purchased for different occasions.
If all of that happens, then it may have a future. But what is more likely is that one type of wearable technology (either watches, or glasses, or another category) will meet all of the criteria and become successful, and that category alone will gain traction at the expense of most other types of wearable technology.
I think it would be better for everyone involved if the technology companies leave the design to the professionals. Provide tech that can be easily integrated into multiple types of accessory, and lest the fashion designers take it from there.
We chose this comment because it forwards a strong case for the argument that wearable technology is a fad, at least in its current form. It also lays out four convincing reasons why wearable technology isn’t quite there yet, and what needs to happen for it to enter into the mainstream. Which is where it may finally prove it has a longterm future. As it stands right now, the jury is still out.
We Ask You is a weekly column in which you have your say about a particular subject. We ask you a question each week, with the results compiled and compressed into a follow-up article the following week. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.
Image Credit: JD Hancock