Wearables seem to tick the box for the logical side of our thinking, in as much as, we understand what they are for – we’ve had mobile apps to introduce the concept of processing physical performance data. But when it comes to why you would want to have one of these, or rather why wouldn’t you? – I don’t think we are there yet.
Did wearables make it into your Christmas stocking?
I don’t know about you, but from my limited sample size of friends, – I heard no mention of a tracker device…not even from the reasonably sporty ones. They were not on the wish lists of their cool kids either. However, as I said, I am talking about a really small market sample. Nevertheless, I think wearable devices are yet to give us a reason to love them. They need to say something about the wearer, like the immediately recognisable social symbol that used to be the white headphones of the iPod. Cool? Fun-loving? Free-spirit?
How about aspiration?
Failing that, they need to connect us to other people like us, or people we want to be like. How about if, as I was about to hit my snooze button again instead of going for my morning run, my watch told me that Usain Bolt was on his way to the track - how about I train virtually alongside him? OK, I will never have the athletic prowess of Bolt, the fastest man on earth, but the opportunity to think I should get out of bed and work as hard as he does, is much more of an incentive than to beat yesterday’s target racing against myself.
We are social animals and like to connect, compete against and compare ourselves with others. And sometimes, even and especially, with strangers. How about if your wearable made your tedious morning commute to work more interesting by telling you how many steps you’d walked and calories burned compared to the other people on the same train carriage? Why not virtually connect to running or walking buddies to race against in any given week? There may well be devices that can achieve these things already, but it’s hard to tell given that so far their marketing messaging has been around spec rather than honing in on an identifiable social feature. Undeniably, data protection issues are bound to arise and be of concern. Can a balance be struck, similar to what has happened in other interaction spaces such as in gaming and social networks?
First impressions matter
It’s great to see that companies are teaming up with more with designers to improve the aesthetic look of devices. It’s good progress. For consumers who already have two or three digital devices though, there may be ambivalence for finding space for another toy, even one with nice crystals, chrome and leather. The enhanced designs will make us like the stuff a bit better, sure - but love? Well, that may still be a way off.
Do you love me?
Wearables need to appeal to our human need to be acknowledged – to say – here I am, this is me, love me. I think the space in Santa’s sack for 2015 will belong to whoever is able to roll up the best of technology, digital connection capabilities, good design and convince us that our lives will feel better with every touch and stroke of the thing next to our skin.