Wearables are gaining traction in the tech world, Pebble have released a premium model of their smart watch, Google have released their Android Wear SDK (with Motorola announcing the Moto 360 and LG announcing the G Watch), and the increasing rumours of Apple’s fabled iWatch.
But what is it about wearables that is so exciting?
Is it the promise of being propelled in to the future that science fiction has portrayed? Maybe. Or is it the promise of accessing notifications and information at the tap of the wrist? Maybe, but I’d happily wager that Joe Bloggs who use smartphones day in day out won’t see the lasting benefit of buying yet another screen when they can simply whip out their phone.
I like my Pebble, but boy does it add to notification fatigue. When you just want five minutes to switch off and suddenly your pocket chimes, then your wrist vibrates – and you can’t help but look at it, whisking you back to reality and the fact you have 6 unread emails to attend to.
gnōthi seauton – Know Thyself
For me wearable tech has the potential to be a part of us, not simply an extension of us. A device that can continuously collect data about my surroundings (temperature, humidity, noise); my body (blood pressure, hydration, energy levels); and possibly even my mind (how do I react to listening to a piece of music, a tweet, or when playing a game?).
It’s about the sensors, the data, and what that data means for me. Wearables should be something that I don’t have to think about but they’re constantly thinking of me: it should be omniscient but not invasive. And then what it does with that data is just as important.
Don’t get me wrong the additional benefits of having information immediately accessible on my wrist is a unique selling point but I will still be reaching for my phone when I want to reply, or find out more, or share it.
Wearables need to enhance my life in a way no other device is capable of. Otherwise modern wearable tech may end up just like past wearables.