Wearable technology is still in its infant stages and already several ground-breaking products such as eyewear, watches, and bracelets have taken the market by storm. Juniper Research estimates that by 2014 the market will already be worth 1.5 billion around the world. The graph below projects the global breakdown of the retail market value of devices that will be purchased in 2014. The market is growing and it’s growing FAST!
The starter has fired his pistol and the race is heated, with newcomers and established corporations sprinting for the top spot. And while everyone is focused on what brand will prevail, we instead ought to turn our attention to which concept will emerge as the winner. At this point we really can’t predict which way the race will go because consumer demand will be the driving force behind which concepts will stick and which concepts will miss. One thing is for sure though, in the near future, wearable tech will become highly popular and products we gawk over today will have already been replaced by their newer and cooler varieties.
The Main Drivers in the Market
Google is the first to tackle tech eyewear and, so far, everyone seems excited…until they actually wear them. Although Google Glass has a pretty cool design, even some of the most tech savvy people won’t want to wear them in public, let alone on a regular basis. However, if you do decide to choose tech over fashion, these glasses will come in handy and will feel like a seamless extension of your body & mind.
Bracelets are presently the “crème de la crème” of wearable technology, with Nike+ Fuel Band as the reining champ. They are the ideal tool for anybody looking for motivation to keep fit, while tracking their progress along the way. People tend to lose track of their fitness goals. This usually derives from a lack of motivation. In the bracelets category, that void becomes filled with your wrist reminding you and pushing you like a personal trainer. The majority of features are displayed by linking to your smart phone via Bluetooth. While this is a great tool to stay motivated and keep fit, if you’re already active and have the necessary motivation, is there really a reason to spend the money? In my opinion, no. If you’re looking to get in shape and need an extra boost, these bracelets are just what you’re looking for, and the variety of features should keep you entertained along the way. Some even have social capabilities so you can see how well your friends are doing. Yet another motivating factor added to this type of gear. However, the one thing this tech lacks is a proper screen. If you’re already active and don’t need the extra motivation, skip it.
Watches are still up and coming in wearables. The Pebble and Galaxy Gear have already shaken things up, but once the iWatch hits consumer shelves, the market will presumably go from scoring a 2 on the Richter scale to a 5. On the tech bracelets, the no-screen limitation prevents the user from really connecting with the technology. However, the tech watches supply you with a richer user experience while delivering nearly the same features as the bracelets, along with an impressive amount of others. Their features are great, their look is clean, they’re Bluetooth compatible, and fit well with almost any style. I really don’t have anything bad to say about tech watches.
What will it come down to?
With so many wearable options out there, including the three discussed above, what will determine the winner of this race? It will come down to two factors. The first element will be the quality and quantity of features the user will be able to interact with (which will most likely depend on the OS). Secondly, and possibly most importantly, companies will have to shape the look of their products so they don’t clash with the user’s style. This is why I believe tech watches will come out on top.
If Google plans on staying afloat in the wearable tech industry, they better start creating some fashionable glasses. This way, no one wearing them will feel like a social outcast. The tech bracelets will most likely become the ideal fitness concept for wearables. Comparatively speaking, I see them as being the running shoe of the entire industry.
The fight is on and all contenders are putting on quite a show. As we look to the not-so-distant future, our curiosity beckons the question, what concept will take home the championship belt?!