By all accounts, 2014 is the year of the wearables. At CES in Las Vegas last month, wearables stole the show with the roll-out a slew of new devices alongside updates to existing ones. Wearables are being featured prominently at Mobile World Congress, happening now in Barcelona, with both Sony and Huawei unveiling their new wearable devices on day one of the show. SXSW Interactive will jump into the wearables fray next week in Austin, with sessions dedicated to the future of wearable technology and giving a platform to early stage technology startups to pitch their wearable products. Enthusiasm for wearable technology is growing, and technological capability is growing along with it. Longevity, however, will hinge on consumer adoption.
We’re long accustomed to putting something useful or decorative on our wrists; no surprise, then, that the most popular wearable category is the health- and fitness-tracking wristband. These devices—such as those from Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike—record steps taken, calories burned, distance covered, and sleep quality and transfer that data directly to a user’s smartphone or laptop. There, users can see trends in their activity, set goals, compete with friends, and join online communities through the apps associated with the devices.
That’s great, and it’s a boon to those who are already motivated to monitor their health and fitness. It can even goad some more sedentary people into getting moving by making fitness fun and inspiring…to a point. Wearable tech will need to become considerably more sophisticated and useful in order to become a must-have for most.
Making wearable tech you won’t want to take off
For wearable technology to truly take off, the current landscape needs to change.