In January of
In it, I made a few informed guesses about a burgeoning, and very intriguing, market. Google Glass had just been released in a limited capacity and companies like Microsoft and Apple had already begun work on competing products. Since then we’ve gotten items like the Pebble smartwatch, the Apple Watch, the Fitbit and the Microsoft Band, to name just a few.
Some of these products have been more successful than others. Head-mounted items like Google Glass still haven’t caught on with the public in a major way. However, smartwatches like the Pebble and activity trackers like the Fitbit have sold well. Overall it’s hard to deny that wearable tech, though it has increased in popularity, is still a niche market. Apple is working to change that with their eponymous Watch, which received more than one million pre-orders within six hours. Indeed, if there’s a company who can make wearable tech more commonplace it’s probably Apple. Regardless, when I wrote my original article, it seemed like wearable tech was about to blow up in a major way. Now it seems that we’re still in a period of transition. Let’s take a look at where wearable tech currently is, and where it will likely be in the near future, with a look at three of its most well-known products.
In 2007 James Park and Eric Friedman came up with the idea of creating a small wearable outfitted with sensors which could monitor their user during exercise. Not having the funds to create a proper prototype they went to investors with nothing more than a single circuit board in a small wooden box. With this crude
Before the advent of the Apple
In September of 2014 Apple
Indeed, smartwatches have been in the public’s consciousness for a long time. In a survey from the NPD Group only 52% of responders said they were aware of wearable tech but when asked which product they were familiar with 36% identified the smartwatch ahead of smart glasses and even fitness trackers. Although demand was there, the lack of a well-regarded mass-produced smartwatch meant that even if early adopters wanted one it would prove difficult to find.
The release of the Apple Watch finally allowed those with an interest in smartwatches the opportunity to purchase one, and they did not pass it up. In a survey from Salesforce about the effects of wearable tech on the corporate lifestyle 62% of responders said that they were planning on using smartwatches within the next two years. But it’s not just business applications that will drive purchases of the Apple Watch. Tractica has predicted that smartwatches will become more widely adopted than fitness trackers within the next few years. According to their current statistics, Apple owns a whopping 68 % of the market.
If these trends continue Apple will not only dominate the smartwatch market but the wearables market as well. There are few companies powerful enough to combat Apple’s dominance of the market. One of them is Google.
The imminent release of Google Glass was one of the main reasons I wrote my original blog post two years ago. At the time Glass sounded incredibly exciting as a means of augmenting one’s everyday reality, a way of implementing the power of a search engine into your daily routine to streamline your day and enhance your productivity.
In my original
If Google Glass is widely adopted a great many people will probably be recorded without their permission. As a part of that same
Looking at these three companies can tell you a great deal about the current state of wearable tech and current consumer attitudes towards it, but what about the current pros and cons of wearable tech. How are they different, and how have they stayed the same? Let’s end with a quick rundown.
Pros and Cons of Wearable Tech
Pro: Wearable Tech is Convenient
Fitbit and similar products took off because they offer the user a convenient way to monitor their progress during exercise or even just throughout the day. It allows the user to keep track of stats like their heart rate, the number of calories they’ve burned and the number of steps they’ve taken. The Apple Watch is being marked largely as a quick source of information. Businesses adopting the watch are already using it to track customer data or view analytics on the fly. The watch allows users to learn important news stories, check messages and keep themselves informed all with a quick glance down at their wrist. That is a huge part of its appeal and a big reason why
Con: Wearable Tech is Limited
Before the Apple
As cell phone screens continue to get larger the limited size of the Apple Watch seems more and more problematic, though it hasn’t seemed to bother users so far. However, that may be because said users acknowledge and rationalize its more limited functionality. This may not be a problem in the present, but in terms of the longevity of such devices in comparison to smartphones or
Pro: Most Wearable Tech is Discreet
Fitbit and the Apple Watch succeeded whereas Google Glass failed largely because they are less attention-grabbing. Lots of people have watches or bracelets. Not a lot of people have cameras attached to their faces. Overall, it seems that people are much more likely to adopt wearable tech if it can be seamlessly integrated into their outfits, and Fitbit and the Apple Watch are great options for those who want the features they offer without radically changing their look.
Discreet wearable tech is becoming more and more common every year, and thanks to Apple it's becoming more fashionable as well. That’s great for adopters who care not just about their experience with wearable tech but also about the way the world views them.
Con: Some Wearable Tech is Not Discreet
At the time of my original
This is, of course, not fair, as Glass has infinite applications which are totally above board and even beneficial to society, but the failure of Glass as a commercial product shows that the opinions of the average person have not changed in a significant way since my original article.
Pro: Wearable Tech is Useful
A 2014 survey by Rackspace and Goldsmiths found the wearable tech increased the productivity of employees by 8.5% and their overall level of job satisfaction by 3.5%. The potential is certainly there. Wearable tech outfitted with certain applications could streamline a wide range of businesses processes. In fact, Salesforce predicted that the use of wearables in business applications would triple by the end of 2016.
Whether this will improve performance significantly and change the landscape of the business world in some way remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s hard to ignore the idea that wearable tech could be used to streamline and/or simplify the duties of many employees across the world.
Con: Wearable Tech is Expensive
The rate at which it becomes more widely adopted will depend upon the attitudes of users.
Would I pay $350 for what is essentially a watch that can tell you the news? Absolutely not. I have a phone with a clock in it. I’m sure you do too. I was excited about Google Glass because it looked like it could impact the way I interacted with the world in a pretty major way.
I am much less excited about having a smaller, more limited version of a smartphone on my wrist. The longevity of these products will depend upon them offering more and costing less. A niche product can sell well
What's to Come?
None of us can tell the future. That being said, if the projections are accurate it looks like wearable tech will soon see a spike in popularity. In. By 2019 CSS Insights predicts the wearable tech industry will be worth $25 billion. Apple will certainly get a huge piece of that. Whether activity tracking products like Fitbit will continue to enjoy their same level of success or gradually decrease in popularity remains to be seen. Google continues to be a wild card.
At one time it looked like Glass would be leading the charge, but with its recent failure to gain mainstream
We can speculate, but
Tell Us What You Think
Post your comments below! We'd love to hear your thoughts on wearable tech. What do you think we will see unfold in the next 6 months, 12 months, 5 years?