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3 min read
Posted in Technology on 15th January 2016 10:00 am
If we were to believe the sci-fi films of our childhoods, then wearable technology would be all the rage in 2016. Sadly we are still waiting on flying cars and hoverboards, but technology giants have managed to emulate the watch phone from Dick Tracy and the video glasses from Back to the Future II with Google Glass and the Apple Watch. So why are we not all walking around talking to our wrists and wearing a marginally cooler pair of safety specs?
The Apple Watch has seen a 90% drop in sales since its launch in April 2015, while in January last year Google announced it would stop producing its Google Glass prototype.
The reality is that while wearable technology arguably offers some of the most exciting developments in the industry, the products that have been produced so far are yet to find their niche. They key issue is they do not offer any new functionality that can knock the mighty smartphone off its pedestal. As Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times put it when describing the Apple Watch, there is no “killer application” so far besides telling the time, which is the basic function of a wristwatch anyway.
With the announcement of new products causing huge waves of excitement, there is clearly an audience for wearable tech. So how will it become part of our day-to-day lives in the same way that smartphones have?
Wearable technology needs to have a specific purpose. It needs to fundamentally integrate with the way that it is worn, rather than just act as a differently shaped smartphone held in a different way. Instead of trying to emulate the all-encompassing ‘life assistant’ that the smartphone has become, it is likely that most successful wearable technology products will answer a specific need.
Fitness seems to be a key area that developments are being made and there are huge opportunities for tapping into an audience looking to improve performance. And for sports fans now accustomed to data driven analysis and coverage, it could well be that the benefits of wearable technology can come when you are not even the wearer. The 2015 NFL season kicked off with all 1,696 players fitted with a set of RFID chips capable of sending stats on position, pace, distance travelled and acceleration, all in real time.
Meanwhile, a recent BBC3 documentary ‘Virtual Reality Virgins’ explored the relationship between wearable technology and virtual reality in the sex industry. Pornography has historically driven mainsteam technology – from the VCR to online streaming – and many of the products that now feature as part of our day-to-day-lives, had a very different (and somewhat seedier!) beginning. If this pattern is repeated, there is also a huge potential to explore the connection between wearable technology and human relationships.
With Google announcing last December that they will be developing a new version of Google Glass, and Apple still rolling out their watch worldwide, it is clear that the technology giants are not giving up. Wearable technology will be part of our future, but in what guise we will have to wait and see.
If you enjoyed this blog, read our previous articles – The marketing implications of a driverless future and How to: Monetise your social media channels.
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