Wearable technology has come a long way since the first smart watches were introduced quite a few years ago. Today, we don’t actually have a wide selection of wearable devices to choose from, but certainly have more than we did 5 years ago. Samsung, LG, Motorola and Apple are all bringing in new devices to the wearable market and neither of these companies are showing any signs of migrating towards other fields, save for the ones they are already in.
The expansion of the wearable market doesn’t necessarily prove that the average consumer is seeing potential in these devices, however they are proof that the industry is desperately trying to enter a field where competition isn’t as fierce as in the smartphone, tablet and laptop market. Even though wearables have gained quite a lot of popularity among consumers, there still is doubt as to how useful and necessary they are.
Tim Cook said in a keynote that the Apple Watch would change the way we live our lives, implying that even smartphones might become obsolete or that the new device will come with never before seen features. People are curious to see what the Cupertino-based company is thinking about, but most are not impressed with what Tim Cook showed off at the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launch even in September. The most widespread opinion about the timepiece is that it will end up being too expensive and won’t bring anything new to the table. Some go as far as to say that the design and style of the Apple Watch is less than satisfactory.
The brand name Steve Jobs and Tim Cook have created over time would have asked for a new device that would trump every other attempt at a wearable in the market. That means that it should have come with a stylish, premium design that would fill the watch with function, but look good in the meantime. The biggest problem with wearable technology is that it doesn’t quite get the hang of mixing functionality with style just yet. The Moto 360 and LG G Watch R are the best examples of fashionable smart watches that have caught the eye of the public. Round watch faces are what’s “in” at the moment, and Apple might have misfired when thinking that the same old same old rectangular watch face would impress techies all over the world.
Techies should keep in mind that the Apple Watch is not quite yet released, but we should be seeing it sometime in March, as per Tim Cook. Until then, we can only speculate on the final form of the device, even though the company has revealed quite a lot about it so far. We already know what kind of designs it will feature, that it will be available in two different sizes and various builds. That doesn’t mean in turn that Apple can’t change the way they produce the Apple Watch for consumers in the end.
Other wearable devices like Google Glass, Samsung Gear VR, Epson Moverio, smart necklaces, bracelets, rings, fitness bands, socks, t-shirts, pants, shoes…. are filling up stores all around the world, without selling too well. The problem with wearable technology is that it offers little for a large price. There are exceptions to this rule, but most consumers think that paying another salary for a high-end wearable that tells them what their phone already does is redundant. Wearables aren’t useless, that’s for sure, and there are many medical- and workplace oriented devices out there that cater to specific needs and are not targeted at the average consumer.
But since we are talking about the average consumer, we have to say that investing in a smart watch, fitness tracker, smart ring, bracelet, t-shirt or socks that can monitor your fitness levels and give you notifications is not very smart at the moment. Wearables are not innovative in terms of function and practicality and they basically do what your phone can, in a smaller form factor. There are fitness trackers that boast with special sensors made for athletes, but they are not for the average consumer’s pockets. Certainly wearables are a cheaper investment than flagship phones are, but a choice cannot be made between them because there are few devices which work without a smartphone attached to them.
The Samsung Gear S is one of the devices that has its own 3G antennae, as well as the Sony SmartBand Talk, but both these devices are limited in their functions. The Gear S is one of the most expensive smart watches, while the SmartBand Talk has limited functionality. I assume you can see the problem with wearable technology so far: lack of independence and a small form factor. Until projects that are trying to encompass holographic displays and projected touchscreen become reality, wearable technology won’t progress and won’t become a good investment for the average tech enthusiast.
Thus, we can conclude that wearables are not a fad, since they haven’t been taken up by a majority of the population, but they still remain in a sort of limbo when it comes to the balance of practicality and design. No doubt one could afford the Asus ZenWatch or the Moto 360, but without having a moderately new smartphone to pair it with, they won’t be of much use. ARM Holdings are working on a new OS alongside manufacturers which would give us devices with better battery lives, but there are no promises of an innovative design that would make the use of a smartphone unnecessary. What do you think about today’s wearable offerings? Would you invest in any gadgets that are available for you at this time or would you rather wait for a more advanced piece of tech to surface? Sound off in the comments below and stay tuned for more about different types of wearable gadgets and what they can achieve for human kind.