Wearable Technologies

The ultimate expression of ubiquitous computing.

For certain people, the term “wearable technology” might summon up a cringe-inducing image of 80’s sci-fi films, or represent a vision of a future that’s just out of reach. But with the rapid decrease in sensor prices in the last few years, and the large brands getting on board, we expect that over the next few years, wearable technology will finally go mainstream.

Introduction

Wearable technology refers to any sort of technology that can be worn, either in the form of jewelry or clothing. Most frequently, wearable technologies try to make technical experiences more seamless than it would be otherwise. So rather than sitting in front of your computer and entering the number of kilometers that you’ve ran, you can simply wear a FitBit that does the tracking for you.

Why does it matter?

It’s easy to shuffle wearable technology into a corner and assume that it only has relevance for a small number of players in the health industry. But wearable technology is part of a larger movement towards ubiquitous, friction-less experiences, regardless of the platform.

Many mobile applications have qualities in common with wearable technologies: they are carried along by the user, are often used in brief spurts in a variety of environments and contexts, and because of their close proximity to the user, they can support a much more personal user experience.

If we take the premise that mobile apps aim for frictionless and intuitive experiences, then extending that to a worn device is simply a natural progression. Paradoxically, although wearable technologies would increase the ubiquity of tech in our lives, their pared-down interactions would encourage smaller micro-interactions. So rather than digging out your phone to check a text message, you could simply glance at your watch.

Key facts

%

of those aged 16 to 24 want wearable tech.

%

Reported increased productivity by employees with wearable devices.

Forecasted wearable device market value for 2018

Notable examples

Fitness Trackers

These little single-use gadgets have paved the way for the mainstream adoption of wearable tech. Fitness trackers are extremely popular and dead-simple to use – basically, what you’re aiming for with all wearable tech.

 

Smart Watches

There are a variety of options available in this category, from the indie Pebble to the coveted iWatch. Of course, Apple’s ability to turn a product mainstream is what will make this category explode in the coming years.

 

Evernote Android Wear

Part of the brand promise of Evernote is ubiquity on all devices, and so they’ve done a great job of adapting their user experience for Android Wear. Check off to-dos, dictate notes and view notes that were created nearby.

Implications for retail organizations

Consider whether there are any small interactions or compact, “glance-able” moments that your users would appreciate on a smart watch.

If mobile applications offer reduced functionality, then smart watches reduce it even more. Not all brand experiences make sense in the context of a watch, but if your app contains a small interaction that is time-based or location-sensitive, it might be worth exploring.

What seems like crazy, blue-sky thinking today might be completely relevant tomorrow.

We could hardly have imagined that apps would play such an important role in business 10 years ago, and yet here we are today. By imagining how wearable tech might influence your business today, you can be prepared if and when they become a fixture in our day to day lives.

Customer journey mapping can help identify opportunities in wearable tech.

In order to get a bigger picture of how your users are interacting with your product or service, it helps to expand your perspective beyond just your website or application. What are your users doing before they open your app? Or after they close it?