In a market that is projected to be worth more than $19 billion in the next five years, I expect to see more innovation coming to wearable technologies. This new product category promises healthier lives, richer media experiences and better connectivity. However, according to Rock Health’s estimate, more than 80% of people are abandoning their wearables after six months.
Before we dive into why people are abandoning their wearables, let’s examine the three most popular uses of wearable technologies today.
The Smart Wristbands
The wearable market is saturated with the likes of FuelBand, Jawbone (Check out group manager Andrew Rosenthal at this years GROW Conference) and FitBit. These are smart wristbands that monitor your heart rate, keep track of your daily activities and supposedly motivate you to be a better, healthier person than you were yesterday. However, consumers stop wearing them after three weeks and start selling them on ebay for a much lower price. As a result, both Nike FuelBand and FitBit have suffered through massive layoffs. Obviously, these smart wristbands are not the answers to our need to keep track of our health.
The Smart Glasses
Smart glasses like Google Glass, Recon Instrument Jet (Check out Founder, CEO and President Dan Eisenhardt at this years GROW Conference), and Lumus DK-40 attempt to enhance our experience with the physical world through delivering the right content at the right time. However, there is a growing concern for privacy as the functions of these smart glasses can be abused to gather personal data from another person through photo, video, and audio recording capabilities.
The Smart Watches
Smart watches are essentially the same as slapping your smartphone on your wrist. It may look like a fashionable timepiece, but in terms of functionality, it doesn’t really improve your experience if you’re already using a smartphone. Oh and who wears a watch these days?
The over-arching problem in the wearable industry is redundancy. We are wearing wearables for the sake of wearing them, not because they actually add value to our lives. They are nice-to-have because we’ve designed them to be this way.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The future of wearable doesn’t need to be a boring one.
Wearable + Artificial Intelligence
Spike Jonze’s Oscar-nominated film, “Her”, gives us a glimpse into a future where operating systems embody the kind of artificial intelligence that is capable of roles far beyond any we’ve seen today— personal assistant, companion, composer, coach, and even lover.”. This phenomenal device depicted in “Her” is probably the closest example of what a wearable should be like and the good news is, we are not far from it. Stephen Wolfram, whoseWolfram Alpha drives the artificial intelligence-like component of Siri on the iPhone, suggests that we will soon have personal-assistant technology that will be able to analyze our emails, summarize them for us, and organize them into different stacks ranked by importance. Day-to-day tasks such as buying movie tickets, scheduling meetings, booking flights, are already a walk in the park for Siri.
Wearable + Internet of Things
Imagine walking into a retail store and receiving exclusive discounts on matching pants for the blazer you bought last week. Imagine going to Starbucks to pick up your venti, no-whip green tea frappachino in one seamless transaction without lining up to order and pay. Imagine coming home to an ambiance set according to your mood. There’s no doubt that wearable technologies will form an integral part of the “Internet of Things”- the idea of a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices. This means that your wearable becomes your ID, passport, personal assistant, home automation centre, wallet, keys, smartphone, and your social profile connected to the Internet and other devices or appliances in the network. This device, whether it’s an ear piece, a wristband or an embedded chip, will simply become an extension of yourself.
There is still much to learn as this new product category grows out of its infancy stage. The real winners in this arms race of wearable evolution are going to be the people who can figure out how wearables can intrinsically add value to our lives. This notion of quantifying ourselves needs to be taken to the next level where data is being translated into actionable items. Despite the mundane examples that we’re seeing today, it’s undeniable that wearable device will become an integral part of our lives and have a much bigger impact in our lives than smartphones did seven years ago.