Wearable technology is finally here…
And all of a sudden, the kinds of gadgets that I, as a child, imagined my superhero alter ego would sport, no longer seem quite so far-fetched.
From wrist-worn devices, like the Samsung Galaxy Gear, with an aptly nostalgic TV launch campaign, leading the viewer through the pre-mobile years, to Google’s endeavours to ‘share the world with the world’ with their new glasses – the time has come for the stampede of well-established businesses and smaller tech start-ups alike to compete for their mark on this new trend.
But, in reality, is wearable technology truly destined for the great success that its many advocates might suggest? I am not so convinced, at least not for the moment.
Existing figures for the growth of wearable technology are certainly promising but fluctuate immensely. Berg Insight estimates a total of 64 million global shipments by 2017, whilst ABI quoted a much higher figure of 485 million for 2018.
So why the uncertainty? Robert Scoble included factors such as price as well as the difficulty of actually acquiring them (they must be custom-fitted and require at least some training before they can be used), in his Huffington Post article, “Google Glass Is Doomed”.
For real success in the world of technology, entirely new products must be introduced that can create entirely new markets, thus impacting society on a much deeper level. At the moment, a lot of what I’m seeing just doesn’t do all that much. And for a trend that includes the word ‘wearable’ in its product description, I honestly wouldn’t be caught dead in a lot of it.
There seems to be a huge gap between what is being made and what the female consumer, in particular, would be willing to purchase. Almost everything available is currently too chunky and masculine. The products seem to be aimed at men with a vague hope that (maybe) some women might like them. Let’s think about who, between men and women, is more likely to wear an accessory, or even multiple accessories at the same time to begin with. Surely the answer is transparently obvious.
Design needs to be a much more important factor when it comes to wearable technology, in order for it to appeal to absolutely everyone, including women. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a case of the tech industry simply needing more female designers?
But even more crucially, these products need a real use and purpose. In this new digital age, what a brand actually means is just as, if not more, important to the consumer than simply what it does.
It doesn’t take a genius to predict that the brand that manages to reach an equilibrium between style and substance holds the key to tech world domination.
Georgiana Foster works in Business Development at gyro London.
Follow Georgiana @giorgianafoster