I’m a big fan of the wearable market. However, I find myself at a crossroads. I understand the interest and usefulness of the product, but it still feels somewhat gimmicky as a whole. I purposefully don’t wear a watch because I carry my smartphone with me everywhere I go. The idea of wearing a watch that will really only work with my smartphone feels almost like a step back. However, the hands-free nature of the beast, well if you don’t count the wrist as part of your hand, does make the product more appealing. Quick information, from texts to GPS mapping routes, does seem to show that the wearable has some clout in the long run. Whether or not that “long run” is actually long is yet to be seen, but when you have all the major device manufacturers getting onboard with their own variations of the devices, some of which are actually quite innovative, it does seem that we’re witnessing the starts of something that’s destined to become something a bit more common that what it is now.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of an all touch screen made me laugh. The slider keyboard was incredible to me and I never thought I’d get used to having few to no physical buttons on the face of my phone. I can admit, of course, when I’m wrong.
The wearable does open up a large assortment of markets, however. With its roots in the fitness world, it seems that most builders are keeping that in mind. For the Average Joe, the smartwatch may not be that appealing. But with the running crowd gaining steam from the growing popularity of things like Color Run 5ks, it seems that the wearable’s growing popularity may be something more than just the gimmick. As the smartwatch gets smarter, the fitness trend with them gets more in tune with your body and sensitive to what’s going on with you.
Jawbone’s latest UP3 wristband is a prime example of this. While I haven’t tested it directly, the wristband is what we can honestly expect to see out of the future of passive devices that the fitness wearable actually represents. It monitors when you walk, run, and even keeps an “eye” out on your various stages of sleep through a suite of intricate sensors. And while I understand the science behind tracking sleep cycles to measure out, in minutes almost, the next day’s energy, I am skeptical of such approaches. I wonder often if they’re more placebo than fact. I wear my wristband when I run to monitor my heart rate. I’m not so paranoid of myself that I feel I need to watch myself when I’m sleeping. I’m not in a nursing home yet.
I do feel that the wearable has a place in the world, but all in all, I believe that it’s going to take some time for it to not be perceived as just the current neat gadget. Bluetooth earpieces were supposed to change how we talked on the telephone. And while they give you an option, I hardly see a method-shaking change. I wonder if the smartwatch may go that direction as well.