Key Messages from Wearables Conferences in London
My colleague Ben Wood and I attended two wearables events in London last week. Ben chaired the Mobile News Wearable Tech — Hope or Hype conference, and we moderated a panel at Wearable World’s Glazed event.
The industry is in agreement that most current wearable devices — whether bands, glasses or smartwatches — aren’t stylish. A clear theme emerged from the conferences: a piece of wearable technology must be fashionable or invisible to become successful.
Technology Intertwined with Fashion
Major players have been leading a strong push toward more attractive designs for wearables, exemplified by the recently announced Apple Watch, LG G Watch R, Motorola Moto 360, and Withings Activité devices.
Smart jewellery is beginning to emerge, with products from companies such as Cuff, Kovert and Ringly. The technology industry has a strong male bias, but these companies, mostly led by women, have recognised the market potential.
We noted that nobody chose to wear Google Glass to either of the events, though this would’ve been relatively common attire a year ago. It reflects the negative press (mostly regarding privacy) that the device has received — troublesome enough that, earlier this year, Google issued users with a list of dos and don’ts outlining how to avoid being a “Glasshole”. We predict Glass won’t become a mainstream consumer product, but its capabilities are being cleverly utilised in enterprise settings.
Fashionable and Functioning Wearables on the Horizon
There’s still work to be done to improve the design and functionality of wearables devices, but comparison of today’s offerings with those of 2013 show how far they’ve come in a short space of time. There’s been a much-welcome move away from the ugly, plastic, square geek-wear of past iterations to today’s sleek, rounded fashion ornaments made of metal and glass. With most major device manufacturers now on board, this trend looks set to continue. I’m keen to see the stylish, next-generation wearables of 2015.
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