Wearable technologies took centre stage at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Since then, new devices featuring refined design and even more inventive functionalities have hit the market. Yet wearable technologies still have not gone mainstream, as the recent mothballing of Google Glass shows. Generally not fashionable, too expensive and dependent upon other devices, barriers to the democratization of wearables persist.
Some think the wearable technology market might take off with the launch of smart watches by a leading brand in April 2015. Recent announcements by Tag Heuer and Gucci of their entrance into the wearables market support this thought. So too do the rumours that technology companies are now exploring augmented reality devices, hoping to succeed where Google Glass failed.
While much of the industry waits – gauging whether this is just a fad – analysts predict that the wearable technology market could grow rapidly. IDT echEx has reported that the market for wearable technology should reach $70 billion by 2025, against $20 billion in 2015.
Beyond the opportunities to team tech geeks with design mavens to create a new class of consumer products, wearable technology promises to revolutionize fashion marketing. With smartphones, marketers are able to capture data such as a user’s geolocation and purchasing habits. Wearable technology can provide marketers with an entirely new set of data, including physical and emotional states, resulting in more detailed intelligence on consumer behaviours and motives. Relaying contextually relevant information in real time adds a new dimension for companies using wearable technology. Moreover, wearable devices offer easier accessibility than smartphones: users are unlikely to miss notifications displayed right before their eyes or strident vibrations on the wrist (and no more hassle getting the smartphone from your handbag).
This level of intimacy between device and user inevitably raises personal data and privacy issues. Wearable technology offers limitless data collection possibilities. Endless inferences can be drawn from the power of analytics: heart rate and respiration, typically used to track sporting activities, could actually be used to infer a host of other (addictive) behaviours. Mood, social environment, health − nothing slips under the radar, which raises consumer concerns about the use and security of highly sensitive information and requires more user trust in the brands they wear. Challenge accepted?