Back in June of last year I wrote that wearable technology still had a long way to go. Having just attended a conference on wearable technology I was very unimpressed with what was available in terms its utility. For the holidays I asked for and received a Pebble Watch since I was interested in actually experiencing what it’s like to use wearable technology first hand – or in my case on my left wrist. As far as I am concerned the Pebble Watch equates to the old cellular bag phone of the 1980’s. It’s clumsy, faux-cool, and buggy (remembering the consistent dropped calls of the 1980’s).
The imminent launch of the Apple Watch slated March of this year is said to be the future of wearable technology. I have no doubt that Apple will do a good job and put out a product that far exceeds the limitations of the Pebble Watch. Yet as good as the Apple Watch may be I find it difficult if not impossible to accept that in the long run it will be a both a fashion piece and something that people will wear ALL THE TIME.
Being a student of human behavior I am aware that old habits die hard. A wearable technology wristwatch today is more of an illustration that the wearer embraces technology – good or bad. I’m not going to review the Pebble Watch as that has been done numerous times since 2014 although if you care to read one you can do that here –
Simply in terms of utility – getting email, tweets, and Facebook and other social media updates on my wrist is mildly useful. The fitness apps that measure steps, activity, calories and such just don’t work all the time. Measuring one’s sleep patterns is an interesting and perhaps useful application, until you realize that you have to wear your watch to bed. And it you want some historical data of your sleep patterns you need to wear the watch every night. Are people really going to change their behavior to do that? Do I need to answer that?
Don’t misunderstand what I see as utility. The idea of constantly monitoring your body, sleep patterns and activity is extremely useful. The monitoring will improve quickly to include things such as heart rate patterns, respiration activity, body temperature and other important moment-to-moment statuses regarding one’s body. Yet in order for wearable technology to have true utility it must be worn ALL THE TIME. And watches or wristbands (think FitBit) will not be worn 24/7.
Will you shower with your smartwatch? How about wearing it for that night out on the town? I don’t see even Apple Watches going well with an elegant evening gown or even a tuxedo but I’ll admit I am probably too old-fashioned that way. And do I really need to have email, tweets and FB statuses posted to my wrist? Is pulling my smartphone out of my pocket that much of a trial? Have we become that lazy?
I maintain that 24/7 wearable technology has tremendous future utility. It will take time as the products are only in their infancy. The Pebble Watch was a cool idea as much because it was crowd-source funded as it was for it being one of the first wearable and popularly available technology pieces on the market. The Apple Watch will be better yet still far from what wearable technology will become.
For now with regard to wearable technology I can wait for the future. This is because I know the future waits for me.