While early adopters and fitness fanatics continue to incorporate wearable technology into their lives, a huge question mark hangs over the role of wearables in mainstream consumer culture. “It looks goofy!” “Most of us don’t know how it works!” “What’s the point?” Valid questions all. But while Google brings in style icon Diane Von Furstenberg to help cure its image problems, other wearable companies are finding ways to make their products indispensable on a practical, day to day level.
In the office
Wearables at work – surely one of the most logical applications of this technology. Salesforce, the provider of back office tools, is the latest to jump on the wearable bandwagon, with a range of code libraries which will enable developers to make connections between Salesforce data and wearable devices.
“The obvious thing to do with this software is build simple notification apps,” says tech journalist Owen Thomas. “Meetings get more productive if employees aren’t constantly pulling out their smartphones… But I’m more intrigued by the notion of connecting the world of work to the world of fitness.”
Pairing up these two uses of wearable tech would certainly have a certain appeal to a great many North American companies, who pay for their staff’s health insurance, and whose employees’ wellbeing has a direct impact on the firm’s bottom line. Two of Salesforce’s new partners, Fitbit and Bionym, could help workers keep track of an array of health and wellness metrics.
On the road
Certain car manufacturers are keen to integrate wearable tech with their emergent smart-vehicle systems, including Mercedes. ReadWrite’s Bradley Berman recently took the Pebble smartwatch on a test drive of the Mercedes CLA, and described the experience as “a gallant inaugural try at making the concept work”, while simultaneously recognising that Mercedes and Pebble both have a long way to go in order to overcome the “digital clutter” of “a bewildering set of apps.”
While we largely think of tech-savvy teens as leading the way, there is a case to be made that women aged 40 to 60 make up a large number of early adopters, not to mention that women outnumber men in the prospective gadget stakes.
Enter Ringly, a wearable conceived specifically for women, with as much of a focus on form as on function. “We designed it to hold up as jewellery and as a wearable,” says CEO Christina Mercando. The tech, hidden beneath semi-precious stones, only notifies the wearer about the apps and people that they want to stay up to date with – reducing the amount of anti-social staring at a phone.
Finally, a wearable I can get on board with! Hopefully if the pre-order numbers are healthy enough, Ringly will start work on a men’s range.