We’ve all done it at some point. Someone you know – a friend, relative, co-worker, whoever – buys the latest and greatest something or other and you absolutely have to have it as well. That something might be a car, a laptop, a phone or one of dozens of other possibilities. How much it costs and whether or not it’s really needed are practical issues that are often ignored in favor of the perceived need to have that latest and greatest whatever. Will that same kind of mindset apply to wearable tech? Will smart watches and smart glasses cement a place within mainstream society — or will they remain primarily within their niche markets?
Very few people remember a ring that could be worn which provided one’s pulse at the touch of a button, and you certainly don’t see anyone wearing one these days. Bluetooth headsets were, at one point, almost ubiquitous. Although they are still in use, they’re becoming increasingly rare. Why is that? The answer is more complicated than it at first appears and depends on several factors.
Factors to Consider
Marketing is the first factor. Technology evolves almost faster than marketing companies can keep up with it. Marketing is what places current tech in front of consumers. Today and tomorrow’s tech is what gets the marketing investment, not yesterday’s cool stuff. If a tech product hasn’t made a place for itself by the time its marketing campaign runs dry, it will likely fall by the wayside and be forgotten or replaced.
There is a huge range of wearable technology – from smart watches, to health monitors, to smart glasses and a multitude of other tech gadgets –designed to serve a wealth of different needs and offer a variety of features and functions. So another factor that’s involved in whether some new technology goes mainstream is how useful the item is for the normal person. Using Bluetooth headsets as an example again, they have been mostly replaced by texting, voice recognition and text-to-voice applications. They were useful for a while and still serve a purpose in certain circumstances, but they are no longer the preferred method of interaction for the masses.
Another factor that helps to determine the longevity of any new technology item is convenience. For the foreseeable future, smart phones are here to stay. Tech products that have the capability to seamlessly link to, sync with or expand the abilities of a consumer’s smart phone increase the likelihood that they will stand the test of time.
The Adoption of Wearable Tech
Rackspace commissioned a study of wearable technology entitled, “The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity“, which showed that a majority of the 4000 participants felt wearable tech had improved their lives in some fashion. Never underestimate the power of how something makes a consumer feel.
As technology improves and evolves, the user interfaces of wearable tech will also improve and evolve. The more natural and convenient something becomes, the more accepted it will be by consumers. Wearable tech, which is of practical use to a substantial number of people, will more likely be adopted by mainstream society as costs decrease, interfaces improve and the user experience is enhanced.
There are numerous factors to consider – marketing, usefulness and convenience. The wearable tech items that address these factors most successfully will be the ones that find their way into the mainstream. Some wearable tech will be more widely adopted than others and some will outright fail and forever remain a footnote known only by techies. There is no way to know which wearable tech product will be a success or will remain popular for only a certain amount of time before being replaced. Technology and society are moving too rapidly for that kind of market prediction.
The world continues to change and people are becoming more technologically oriented, more comfortable and familiar with various technologies, more conscientious and responsible in their physical and mental well-being and more inclined to do things for themselves. The niche that was once the domain of the techies is becoming mainstream as mainstream turns itself into techies. Wearable tech is here and it’s not going away any time soon. Only the form of it will adapt to our needs and wants.