Why combining fashion and functionality is key to wearable tech uptake
Anyone with a vested interest in the wearable tech market will recognise that at present, products are still very much in their infant stages in terms of take-up and overall popularity. Here at Apadmi we recently conducted some research into consumer attitudes to wearables in the hope it would shed some light on uncertainty surrounding the technology at present. Our results found that, as it currently stands, 35 per cent of consumers would feel embarrassed or self-conscious wearing the technology. In addition, 34 per cent of respondents felt that that wearable technology made people look like ‘show-offs’.
While wearable technology has massive potential for businesses and consumers alike, these findings illustrate how much work needs to be done to educate the general public about the benefits of wearables. On an aesthetic level, there are a number of ways that businesses in the sector could boost the desirability of their products.
Mixing fashion with functionality
One way in which the creators of wearable technology are trying to muster up enthusiasm for their products is through what once might have been thought as unlikely partnerships with the fashion world. The overwhelming consensus is that it is no longer enough to focus purely on creating the functional element and so injecting some style could be just the ticket to increasing consumer demand and affection towards wearables. By definition, wearable technology is about much more than just functionality – the devices are designed to be worn, and part of the appeal of items such as smart glasses, smartwatches, smart jewellery and smart wristbands is that they are bold statements that are meant to be visible.
When Google Glass was launched two years ago the device was received well by some, but plenty more dismissed it, saying it was something your average person wouldn't be seen wearing in public. Tellingly, Google has attempted to address these concerns by partnering with iconic fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, who promptly set about designing a range of aesthetically-pleasing glasses incorporating Google’s technological innovations. Others are now hot on the heels of this partnership and it is thought that the soon to be released Apple Watch could be the answer the industry has been waiting for.
With Apple boss Tim Cook hailing the Apple Watch ‘the most advanced timepiece ever created’ earlier this month, the device is expected to make waves in the sector. Putting aesthetic appeal at the forefront of its design, the 'Edition' version of the Apple Watch has an 18-carat gold case encrusted with sapphire and is already turning heads in high-fashion, having recently featured on the cover of Vogue China.
Apple Watch – not just a pretty face
As well as having visual appeal, the Apple Watch is light years ahead of its competitors in terms of technical capabilities. In addition to telling the time, the device can respond to voice commands, measure the wearer’s heart rate, function like a credit card, and alert users to incoming calls and emails. But what really stands it apart from other smart watches on the market is that it can display many of the apps that we use every day on smartphones, like our beloved social media networks Facebook and Twitter. This could be the turning point, when wearable tech starts properly battling it out with smartphones for the affection of consumers.
Killer app is the missing ingredient
While all this is undoubtedly positive news for the industry, at present it would be argued by many that it is the lack of the ‘killer app’ that is warning off consumers, as they don't want to invest in a product that does less than their smartphone. The Apple Watch could be about to change this, but building devices that move beyond a phone's capabilities will take time. We will also need to see a shift in app developers' priorities, as at present most firms are still concentrating largely on the smartphone market.
At present, Apadmi's predominant focus is still on developing apps for smartphones, however it is possible that we will look at extending our remit to cover smartwatches as uptake increases. We do believe that, with a bit of coaxing, consumers will begin to come round to the benefits of wearables and with this, the development of apps to complement these products will certainly increase. It will be interesting to see whether the Apple Watch could be the product that starts this consumer shift.
So what's next for wearable tech?
Clearly, developers are now savvy to the fact that making their wearable tech offerings fashionable, and generally more in tune with the general public, will help drive sales. However, work still needs to be done before wearable tech is able to properly compete with smartphones – both in terms of usability and functionality. Saying that, with the right mix of style and functionality, wearable technology has the potential to completely revolutionise the industry and provide benefits for both businesses and consumers alike.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.