Why wearables are the hardest gadgets to build

Jawbone VP explains why wearable tech is so tough to make
​Why are wearables always delayed?

If there's been one theme of wearable tech through 2014 and 2015, it's been delays. The Razer Nabu, Jawbone UP3 and even the Apple Watch have all left consumers waiting empty handed, and while you might excuse the first two companies for being unable to meet demand, it's all the more surprising when Apple can't meet supply.

So why are so many wearables delayed?

The Apple Watch's woes have been attributed by the Wall Street Journal to issues with the Taptic engine, which delivers those wonderful tap-like notifications.

The WSJ reported that the original Chinese manufacturer AAC Holdings could not supply reliable components, and they had to change supplier at the last minute.

And Jawbone – which left consumers gadgetless for months – blamed delays to its UP3 on waterproofing problems. It eventually had to renege on its promise to make the fitness band waterproof, which means that when users do receive their activity trackers, they won't be able to use it in the pool.

While no two issues of wearable tech delays have been the same, Jawbone's communications manager Jim Godfrey told Wareable that the company still hadn't given up on waterproofing its fitness devices:

"Water is a hard issue to deal with in any kind of technology whether it's phones, wearables or tablets; it's a very difficult problem to fix but we will keep working on it," he said.

But what about the likes of Apple, which commands the biggest network of suppliers and manufacturers anywhere in the world?

Wearable tech is more exposed

Godfrey said that the challenges of building devices that are designed to be worn throws up challenges for even the biggest companies.

"I think wearable tech is exposed more because it's on the body 24/7 so it's exposed to the elements. Wearables are exposed to wear and tear to a greater extent than other consumer tech. When you put something on the body it means it has to be more robust," he said.

As well as having to make wearables capable of surviving the rigours of everyday life, providing the data and features we've come to expect and last a usable amount of time on minuscule batteries, Godfrey also explained that it's essential to make them wearable.

"Advanced wearables are heavily sophisticated, with powerful processors capable of complex computing on your wrist. For a company like Jawbone it's a priority to produce that in a small and comfortable design and form factor as possible. The UP3 is around 30% smaller than equivalent multi-sensor trackers and UP2 is 45% smaller than the UP24.

"That's where you get 24/7 wearability, when it disappears on the wrist," he continued.

Are you waiting on an Apple Watch? Or stung by Jawbone UP3 delays? Let us know in the comments below.

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