May 9, 2014

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Wearable Technology: Hype or Next Business Tsunami?

Rarely any technology has built the momentum as fast as wearable technology. Just googling for last year content will reveal the reverence technology has received from industry captains and pundits. Rarely a week goes without technology getting comment either from an analyst or industry stalwarts. But the million dollar question – will the end consumer embrace the way it accepted smartphones?

As expected, people have different takes, partially depending upon their own stake in the overall scheme of things. To have an unbiased view, it may be worthwhile to observe trends in related technologies. Mapping the trends with smart phone seems to be a natural choice. Several trends have contributed for the phenomenal growth of smartphones. However two dominant factors which stand out, they are miniaturization of processors (and related peripherals) and overall cost reduction. The moot point is that whether the same can be replicated in wearables.

Let us start with the case of smart watch. The case in favor of smartwatch seems to be at ease with which we can see the notifications without having to take out the smart phone. However until it becomes a complete device in itself, it would remain more of an accessory than an independent device. What is blocking it is obviously the small interface for input and output. Taking calls from smart watch (although none of the current generation of smart watches are supporting calls) would be a bit awkward.

 Another interesting case is of smart glasses. A lot of buzz was generated when it was launched. (Who would not like to have a smart TV in front of the eyes all the time!!) However reality dawned with practical issues like privacy, distraction while driving etc. It might be useful for some specific applications; however it is not going to replace our traditional glasses soon.

The wearable list also includes some bizarre cases like shirts which change color depending upon the mood of the wearer.

However one category of wearable’s which stands out from the others is the fitness bands which help to track metrics like calories burned, distance travelled etc. The reason why end user has embraced this particular wearable is due to the fact that it satisfies the desire to be healthy and does it quite naturally.

Summing it up, wearables will continue to evolve and the law of natural selection will decide the ultimate winner among the existing variants. Business Tsunami or hype? My vote would definitely go for the former.

References:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wearable_technology