In the new frontier of wearable technology, one simple fact will be the make-it-or-break-it element: consumers want wearable tech to be such a seamless experience that they can forget they are even wearing their technology. Even if they're worn on the outside of clothing, the items have to feel as if they are invisible. That means the device must be small, yet have an extended battery life. Extra points if it is multi-functional. It has to look good and make the wearer feel as if they look good using it. If wearable devices can maneuver through this complicated set of challenges to offer a consistent and reliable user experience, consumers will embrace it and allow wearable tech to invade their daily existence.
Recently, Technology Marketing Corporation brought their Wearable Tech Expo to Los Angeles. Hosting a two-day conference is a challenge under ordinary circumstance. But doing it when you and your team are the proverbial strangers in a strange land affords an increased degree of difficulty. TMC produced an effective series of panels and product presentations that demonstrated how wearable tech is going to invade our lives and make us thankful that it did.
Fashion may be the most important contributing factor to the mass adoption of wearable tech and it's taken a long time to get the techies talking about it. Ultimately, technology companies will realize their limitations in this area and form partnerships with top designers. While the combination of Dolce & Gabbana with Motorola will not be happening in the next few weeks, it will definitely emerge as a trend long before the end of this decade. Get ready to see gadget ads for wearable tech in the pages of The September Issue 2014, because when celebrities walk the red carpets next year, the answer to the question "Who are you wearing?" may include Martian and PointView.
Hybrid Functionality is an emerging trend as companies look to add unique features to their existing product line. Plantronics introduced a Concept Model earpiece that blends hearing and movement with the addition of a gyroscope system that enables tracking in what they call "free fall" movement. In essence, this can ultimately obliterate the dilemma of senior citizens who have fallen and can't get up by immediately notifying a caregiver of the fall so that assistance can be provided. With the right application, it could also enable your ear piece to warn you and wake you up if you were in danger of falling asleep while driving. Simultaneously, this data can be recorded and uploaded to a program that analyzes (among other things) frequency and intensity. It is interesting to note that Plantronics is not developing apps for the production concept headset or anything else in their product line. They are, however, making it available to app developers.
Smart Glass is no longer the sole domain of Google. Originally developed by the military to give soldiers "Terminator vision" while leaving their hands free to maneuver weapons, multiple manufacturers are releasing their own interpretation of how this wearable tech can improve the quality of your life. When they are worn in public they tend to look pretentious, ridiculous and/or unnecessary, which is not going to incentivize people to wear them. Google gets kudos for paving the way and showing the world what smart glass is and can (theoretically) do for the greater good of mankind. Even so, if you see a Millennial in a suit wearing Google Glass for no apparent reason, the pretentious/ridiculous/unnecessary litmus test will still be the most appropriate.
Camera Glasses offer a twist on our obsession with taking pictures or shooting video as an automatic response to any moment that may contain an opportunity to memorialize something of meaning. But when you hold up a camera, the mere fact of its presence introduces an artificial element into the equation and has an impact on the moment being recorded. Camera glasses that have an HD camera in the center bridge between the eyes enable you to get clear point of view, eye contact images from children, pets or other objects of your affection. Furthermore, they enable law enforcement personnel to get a more objective recording of how a perpetrator acts during a contact and get both visual images and voice recordings throughout physical confrontations through an unobstructed view. The next generation of these glasses will enable live broadcast, which could also offer journalists in the field an opportunity to send live feed reports through the satellite while they are actively immersed in a story as it unfolds.
Smart Watches are, in their current iteration, head phones that you wear on your wrist. Anyone who is old enough to remember Dick Tracey's two way wrist radio will get a giggle out of how prophetic the comic strip turned out to be. Eventually, they will be stand-alone phones that can perform all of the functions of a smartphone, but they currently need to be connected to a mobile phone that is kept in close proximity. I wish smart watches had been available when I was juggling an infant, a toddler and a preschooler, which leads me to suspect that moms will make up a large segment of the early adopters for this item. One of the unfortunate details is that (with rare exception) they tend to resemble the plastic-banded digital watches that Casio produced in the 1980's.
Health and Fitness is a growth industry that manages to sustain momentum through thick and thin (pun intended) economies. Beyond the impending rush to fulfill New Year's resolutions that involve gym memberships and unrealistic goals, wearable tech offers opportunities to record daily movements like walking. This may be the most effective point of entry for new users. A simple device worn on the wrist is far less noticeable than a pedometer attached to a belt or a band around the upper arm or leg and, again, invisibility is a key to adoption. Another intriguing advantage to wearable tech in this sector is the fact that we can build a community of like-minded individuals and gamify our work outs.