The future of technology is ready to be worn. Common accessories such as watches and eyewear are now equipped with powerful processors and vivid displays. And according to the Wearable Electronics Market and Technology Analysis report, the wearable technology market is expected to grow to $11.1 billion by the year 2020. Companies such as Apple are poised to lead the pack when wearable tech explodes in the marketplace—but when exactly will that be?
In a 2013 survey by Nielsen known as the “Connected Life Report,” consumers were asked which types of gadgets they’d be interested in wearing. The most popular devices were fitness bands, chosen by 61 percent of those surveyed. Smart watches came in at second place, chosen by 45 percent of the votes. Mobile health devices were a distant third, chosen by 17 percent of the people surveyed.
The Nielsen survey revealed that US residents show a strong interest in wearable technology; however, of the 50 percent surveyed who expressed interest, the cost was prohibitive. A whopping 72 percent of wearable device users considered the cost as too expensive. If manufacturers want to meet the growing consumer demand for wearable technology, creating low-cost entry-level devices and mid to high-end versions, is a must.
Wearable Tech Practicality
An important and basic consideration for wearable tech is practicality. Will smaller size prove to be an issue? What functionality limitations will result from using a significantly smaller display? The key to ensure wearable devices remain practical is to strike a balance between functionality and complexity.
It’s important to keep fewer elements on a smaller screen than on a larger screen, so users don’t experience difficulty interacting with the device. Fewer options are best practice when designing GUIs for smaller form factors. Another important consideration to make is compensating for vision-impaired users. Since such users would have difficulty viewing the screen, designers should focus on creating options that allow each individual to change display settings and fonts, thus providing a better experience.
Developers Must Adapt
How will GUI designers and developers adapt to working with less space, smaller buttons and other limitations caused by smaller devices? The solution isn’t as difficult as it seems. Designing a wearable interface is not as simple as replicating the user’s experience on a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. The technology should be created with a central focus on how consumers will interact with them. Functionality should come first and foremost. An exceptional looking device that is difficult to use will quickly discourage users, who may stop using the device altogether.
Apple Is Ready
Recently released wearable technology from the likes of large companies including LG, Motorola and Samsung, had poor sales and unfavorable reviews. Not Apple. Released to stores in April, the watch responds to voice commands, and utilizes iOS 8, allowing users to seamlessly continue their experience from the watch, to an iPhone or MacBook.
And based on the latest research from Strategy Analytics, 15 million units of the watch are expected to ship in 2015, worldwide. With 55 percent global market share and climbing, Apple is poised to become the world’s largest vendor of this amazing technology.
Wearable technology is opening new doors into a world that connects fashion with technology, providing increased convenience and a more personalized experience, at home or on the go.