When mulling over the fate of the deluge of wearable gadgets debuting these days, CNET.com journalist Bridget Carey wrote, “Welcome to the awkward teenage years of wearable devices.”
The comment also points to a very real disconnect between the sheer number of devices being released and the burning desire to be even more connected to technology on the part of modern consumers—which we can all sense hasn’t fully materialized yet.
Do consumers want to be more connected—via rings, bangles, watches, and bands that literally shake our bodies when they have something to say—or have we reached a technology tipping point? Furthermore, do we even have an available wall plug to charge up another device every night?
Puls, Will.i.am’s new fitness wearable
For wearables to really catch on, and become a robust revenue stream for retailers, they have to add value to the phone/laptop/tablet mash-up currently being juggled by modern consumers.
Google Glass, the most infamous wearable that never was has already, for all intents and purposes, been rejected by the buying public. They don’t call its test-drivers Glassh*les for nothing. (Will Apple ever actually sell it? Perhaps now that Intel is inside.)
Fitness bands and cuffs (see Fitbit and Will.i.am’s forthcoming Puls) have major potential in the market. But watches—even Apple’s jazzy, beautifully designed one—feel more novelty than necessity, since they’re largely operated by that other smart device strapped to your hand: your phone.
As a full-time professional and mother of two toddlers, the last thing I want to do is bring technology closer to me when I’m off the clock. Most days I want to jettison it—harnessing the force of a pro dodgeball player—into the stratosphere.
Which is why the Tyia by Viawear bracelet, which actually helps you disconnect by allowing you to program it to accept only crucial communiqués, appeals to me. (Stay tuned for more on the Tyia in the February issue of JCK.)
And, not to get too woo-woo, but another part of me wonders what vibes—real or imaginary—could end up clinging to a person always strapped to a connected device.
Still, I can’t deny that when I’m face-to-face with a brilliantly designed wearable, my first reponse is always “neato.” And maybe that shiny-new-toy brand of enthusiasm will be enough to see wearables truly ascend.