Worn Out Over Wearables
By Ashima Agrawal
There has been a lot of hype recently about wearable technology being the next big thing in the tech world. Recently, the Aragon Research interns got to try out the Fitbit Flex and the Pebble Smart Watch. Both Ciara and I have written our thoughts on these devices, but what we’ve both noticed is that we aren’t wearing them as much as we thought we would.
The whole point of wearables is to wear them every day, yet I don’t wear my Fitbit on the weekend and Ciara hardly ever wears her Pebble. Why is this? Why aren’t wearables catching on like smartphones, tablets, and laptops did in the consumer market?
Smart Watches: They Need to Do More
These wearable technology devices do not do enough. A smartphone has many different capabilities: you can talk to it, send text messages and emails, make phone calls, surf the Internet, etc. On the other hand, a smart watch has limited functions. Some can take pictures, others can actually dial numbers directly from the watch, and some can only show you what messages and phone calls you have received.
There is a wide range of smart watches to choose from—and with that comes a wide range of prices, but they are all lacking something. To me, I’m not really sure what they bring to the table that a phone can’t already do. It seems as though these are second phones that attach to your wrist. These may be helpful in the business world—you can see who is trying to call you during a meeting, send out messages to your employees, etc., but other than that, what is the use of a smart watch for everyday users?
Lead Research Analyst, David Mario Smith, suggests that wearables need to take a different turn from consumers to businesses. He believes that smart watches can have a huge impact on workers who do physical labor, such as construction workers, etc. They can still get updates without having to dirty their phone. If it is a big work site, the supervisor can send out a message to all of his employees instead of having to reach them individually on foot.
Smart watches can be useful in hospital settings as well. For nurses, they can get updates about their patients without having to be paged over intercom throughout the entire hospital. Hospital healthcare specialists can also be tracked via wearables and routed in real-time to locations where urgent care is needed. There is a lot of potential for smart watches, but maybe it isn’t in the market that industry leaders are looking at right now.
It will be interesting to see what smart watch makers do in order to get back their customers. There are hundreds of Samsung Galaxy and Pebble smart watches on Amazon and EBay right now selling for much less than the retail prices. These watches have come out quite recently, which leads people to think that they aren’t as desired as they seem to be when marketed.
Wearables for Fitness: Exercise Bands
Wearable technology that tracks exercise was a huge deal a few years ago. Everyone wanted a Fitbit or a Nike+ Fuelband. Just like smart watches, these are all over the Internet, selling for less than retail price. Exercise bands can be great for someone trying to get in shape or maintain a healthy lifestyle. The truth is, people get tired of wearing them everyday.
Exercise bands are not formal enough to go with many outfits, so men and women alike take them off for certain events. Many said the watches were not comfortable to leave on when sleeping, and then they would forget to put them on when they went to work. It’s not like a watch, which is needed to tell you time. An exercise band has no face on it. It’s just a plain band that you never have to look at. Maybe people would use it more if it were a smart watch and an exercise band all in one?
Combining Both Smart Watches and Exercise Bands
The Echo Smart Watch for Sport is a wearable device that is a smart watch geared at helping people keep track of their heartbeat, distance traveled, laps run, etc. Although it doesn’t have the capability to download apps like other smart watches, its function is to help athletes, runners, and the everyday person to lead a more active life.
It is simple to do what the Echo Smart Watch is trying to accomplish by downloading a running app onto your other smart watch—with the exception of tracking your heart beat. This product is just starting to get press, but I imagine the hype will die down in a few months because it is just another wearable device centered around one function. It seems to me that what consumers want is a combination of the two technologies. If the Echo Smart Watch for Sport expanded its capabilities, they could be the leading smart watch in the industry.
People are looking for that one piece of technology that will make their lives a little easier. A smart phone does exactly that. A smart watch? An exercise tracker? Not so much. David Mario Smith’s outlook on where smart watches should head is exactly the path I think they would thrive in. Echo Smart Watch is on the way to incorporating both smart watches and exercise trackers, which is a wise choice. I think having those two in one would be more beneficial to the user than to have two separate devices.
Until then, and until these devices start being marketed towards different consumers, these companies will continue to see their products abandoned in a short amount of time.