For years now, the smartphone and tablet have become undeniable pillars in modern society, and with emerging new advancements in the App and telecommunications space, these devices have well-ingrained themselves as must-have staples. People from across the globe can do endless, customisable things with their phones and tablets, and they absolutely love it.
Then, 2015 saw the biggest uptake of something new: wearable technology, mostly in the form of the smart wristwatch. Samsung and Apple raced to get their competing versions out, offering the next big thing in the form of an advantageous extension to the smartphone. It was trendy, exciting, innovative and damned-right futuristic! Due to sci-fi movies, we’d been waiting for this day for years!
So, upon their release, the hype was absolutely huge. The typical line of campers congregated outside of the Apple Store Fishbowl on George Street, Sydney around the block, and initial stock was limited. No one could wait to get their wrists on one and flash it around for everyone else to see.
However, I feel that what was once a respectable and awe-striking sight to see polished metal poking out of someone’s sleeve has, one year later, become extremely daggy. That high-powered executive who, at the start of the meeting announced, “Please silence all mobile phones… and (winks while pulling his shirt cuff back) watches,” once a hero, is now the laughing stock of the office. I guarantee that, in the office place today, he or she never mentions their Apple watch and keeps the wearing of it extremely subtle. Even all of my Apple iZombie friends who originally dashed out to buy one now leave it lying in a sock draw. Oh, and I haven’t caught a glimpse the highly unique design of a Samsung Watch since 2014!
Even at the gym, what used to be a sea of FitBits on every wrist in yoga class is now the odd one or two. So what happened? Are customers becoming less enthralled by this kind of device? Has the novelty worn off so much that customers are now almost adverse to what’s currently available in 2016?
I attended a conference last year where Doctors were claiming that health data-collection provided by wearables like the FitBit and Jawbone was going to be the next big step in medical care and patient treatment. GPs were convinced that they would be able to integrate their patient’s FitBit stats into their diagnosis and regular check-ups. It sounded amazing in theory. However, if you’re anything like my dad in his sixties, who is the ideal target-market for what these Doctors were talking about, he literally scolded me for even considering the fact that he’d ever wear one.
Even the new Samsung VR mobile wearable which places your mobile phone into a goggle-like device, creating a 3D Virtual Realty headset seems to be struggling. Samsung were initially giving these sets away only if you pre-ordered the new Galaxy S7 handset in January, however I heard an advert this week on the radio announcing that all S7s now come with it, free. It seems that they can’t even give them away. And let’s be honest, if you’ve seen what they look like, I guarantee that, like the joystick or the Gameboy Printer, the VR will be the device that our future-selves in 2018 will look back at and laugh.
It goes to show that, right now in 2016, both the customer and corporation have no idea what we all really want from technology at the moment.
Don’t be mistaken- wearable technology has a lot of space to grow and will become a highly performing sector over the next few years, but perhaps what we have now in 2016 has come and gone. Current tech watches seem to have outlived their novelty and utility, and both customers and organisations are looking forward to even better manifestations, like tech clothing, smart glasses and contact lenses, advances in data capture and display, gesture-triggered interfaces and seamless wearable integration.
So despite the fact wearable technology is far from the focus of current consumer spending and admiration now, they certainly have a place in our modern world and it is inevitable that they will eventually become as ubiquitous and as loved as our smartphones and tablets. But it’s not this way at the moment.