Tune in at 12:30 PM EDT on Saturday April 5th (event link)
By: +Mike Attrell
|Wearables: Because sometimes you just don’t care how you look using them [Source]|
When discussing “wearables”, it is helpful (especially for the layperson) to distinguish what exactly one is speaking of when using the term. You could break up the tech category in any number of ways, so let’s take a look at a couple different approaches:
|Fitbit Force [Source]|
Devices such as pedometers and fitness trackers would fall under this category. While we may not have even considered pedometers as anything tech-specific like “wearables” in the past, the evolution of the technology into devices like the fitness trackers of today (e.g. Fitbit, Jawbone) has grown this wearables subcategory into a multi-billion dollar industry. These types of wearable target a broad demographic and have no real learning curve to use them; a lot of the time you just put them on and forget it, until the device gives you reminders throughout the day and you review the data summary on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. These devices integrate incredibly well with PC’s and Macs, and most have an iOS app. Android integration is quite a bit more rare, which is something I hope changes in the very near future.
|Motorola S9 Bluetooth headphones [Source]|
I think I’m kind of making this category up, but I believe it is worth mentioning because it will only become a bigger part of our everyday lives as we see new advances in technology. In this subcategory, I would group together the devices that we use for short/intermittent periods of time that serve a specific purpose or activity. Devices such as stereo headphones, Bluetooth earpieces, microphones/headsets, and virtual reality/augmented reality devices (e.g. Oculus Rift, pictured at the top of this post) would fall under this classification. These devices would have a bit more of a learning curve than the set-it-and-forget-it type devices, but it’s the kind of thing that once you know how to turn the device on the rest of the experience kind of takes care of itself. The target demographic of these wearables would be probably collectively be just as large as that of the lifestyle/tracking wearable, but once you get away from the $10 discount bin headphones crowd, you’d be left with some of the more technologically-inclined types seeking out the latest and greatest gadgets in this subcategory.
|Motorola Moto 360 [Source]|
This subcategory (again, completely made-up, but bear with me) is probably the most exciting and interesting of all the wearables subcategories you could come up with, and is definitely the area in which most tech companies are focusing their R&D right now. Now with Google Glass out in the wild (and surely many more devices of its kind to follow), the subcategory is expanding. These devices integrate with your existing technology (namely, your mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets) to enhance and complement the user experience. For the longest time, we really only had smart-watches in this category (with the Pebble as probably the first of its kind to break into the public consciousness), but with Sony, Samsung, and most recently LG & Motorola introducing products that have garnered international attention, we are likely going to see this market continue to grow and improve. This subcategory, in my opinion, has the largest learning curve as well as the most non-techy people asking “What use is that when I already have my phone/tablet?”. The main “issue” is that these devices display largely the same information and serve the same functionality that your main mobile device offers (e.g. displaying notifications, calendar alerts, receiving and replying to messages, getting map directions). The difference is that these devices allow you to optimize your interaction with your mobile device and present it in a streamlined way that is convenient and non-invasive.
In this week’s Future Tech Chat episode, we will be discussing the different types of wearables out there today, where this tech category has come from, and where it’s headed.Be sure to tune in LIVE on Saturday at 12:30 PM EDT at the video link at the top of the page, or you can check us out on our YouTube channel and Google+ page for the completed video to watch later at your convenience (or to watch it a second time after you experience the thrill of the live recording!)