If you think wearable tech is just a fad, think again. True, some earlier attempts may have been laughably bad, and yes, everyone and his dog is currently jumping on the bandwagon. But this is a product area that’s here to stay.
Why? Check out these cast-iron reasons.
They’ve been a long time coming
Science fiction has been obsessed with wearable devices for decades now. Think Dick Tracy and Michael Knight’s watch-phones, Marty McFly’s entire ensemble –self-drying jacket, Nikes with power laces –from Back to the Future II, Batman’s utility belt, motion controls in Minority Report, Geordi La Forge’s visor…you get the picture. It’s only now that the technology has caught up with our imaginations.
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All these artistic thinkers saw the potential of wearables. There’s the obvious convenience of checking your watch instead of taking your phone out of your pocket. But then there’s the cool factor, too.
Wearables are usually used as shorthand for futuristic. Technology marches on at such a pace that soon it’ll be hard to imagine a time we didn’t have wearable devices.
The link to health and fitness
Smartwatches, smartbands and the like are inextricably linked to health and fitness, which is the defining lifestyle aspiration of our age. According to research company Mintel, 55% of Britons tried to lose weight last year. Kantar Media estimates that 4.4 million of us belong to gyms or leisure centres. This segment of the population is the one most likely to go jogging regularly, and hence more likely to wear fitness bands and smartwatches.
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Because we’re more informed about our health than ever before, more people know a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just mean hitting the gym, but staying active generally. This is where smartwatches and smartbands shine, for example by telling you when you’ve hit your goal of 10,000 steps a day.
Everyone wants to be fitter, healthier and slimmer, and these devices let you see in real terms how you’re getting on. What could be better motivation?
They’re good for business
One study has shown that wearables boost employee productivity and morale at work. The report, entitled The Human Cloud At Work (HCAW) A Study Into The Impact OfWearable Technologies In The Workplace, showed that employees wearing wearables were 8.5% more productive than those without, and 3.5% more satisfied with their job.
Chris Brauer from the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, wrote in the study: “Wearable technology is arguably the biggest trend since tablet computing so it’s natural that employees and businesses will look to use these devices in the workplace. Our initial findings suggest that there is benefit to be gained from doing so alongside risks and opportunities that need to be proactively addressed.”
Anything that makes businesses more money is bound to stick around.
They’re big with the youth
According to Nielsen, wearable tech is most popular with young people. Indeed, 48% of wearable users are between 18 and 34 years old. As any good marketer knows, capture consumers young and you’ll have them for life.
The trend is only going to continue. Each generation is progressively more tech-savvy than its predecessor, as it’s grown up not knowing any different. If wearables were big with older generations and no one else, it would obviously die out pretty soon. But the opposite is true.
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Unsurprisingly, the majority (57%) of those with a smartwatch said the main reason for buying it was to keep tabs on their health and wellbeing. Because of their healthier lifestyles, these young people are going to be around for a long time to come, and so are their wearables.
Apple is involved
And as we all know, Apple plays the long game.
Instead of jumping in first with a new type of device, it sits back and watches everyone else get burned. Once it’s learned from their mistakes, it puts its inimitable design –and not to mention marketing –heft to work, and usually comes up with something significantly more usable than the competition.
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A new product category is a big commitment for Apple, unlike Samsung, which takes the ‘throw enough designs at a wall’ approach (it has already announced six smartwatches in a little over a year).
The Apple Watch is the first new major category of product it’s launched since the iPad back in 2010. Obviously it wouldn’t invest all this time, effort and money unless it thought wearables were here to stay. And like it or not, Apple is usually proved right.
What do you think?
Are wearables here to stay? Have your say using the comments below….