When a wearable is announced, it becomes the talk of the town and then, nothing. People lose interest (except the hardcore geeks) and they move on. Repeat ad infinitum. But why is that the case?
Chalk it up to a few reasons. Poor battery life, lack of apps and absence of support and funding are just some of the key reasons. During a session on wearables at Computex 2014, Intel highlighted the three big reasons why today's devices are facing a huge barrier to entry.
Bummer #1: Is that all this does?
There’s more to wearables - one might hope - than making a miniature version of a computer that is linked to your bigger computer to hang around your neck. It needs to add value to an existing experience, and transform it all together, rather than passively collecting information and spitting it back at the wearer. Not all of us are interested in the 24/7 workings of our bodies.
Cure: Intel is providing the support, both financial and mentorship, should your idea for a wearable hit all the right notes in their ongoing Make it Wearable competition. Instead of the usual health-tracking devices, we're also seeing potential experience-reinventing ideas make the cut. Check out Lovey, a social environment monitor designed for parents and their children, and a UV ink tattoo that contains all your medical history.
While Intel's support for wearables might not be the be-all-end-all solution, it's a strong start.
Bummer #2: Why doesn’t anyone play nice anymore?
Everyone wants to further their own agenda. What consumers face is a spread of separate great devices like Google Glass, Pebble, Apple iWatch (if it ever shows up) which are limited to their own ecosystems, but could unlock the door to tech paradise if they would all just harness a common power and unite the experience.
Cure: The Internet of Things will save us all. However, it’s a fabled creature for now and we’ve yet to meet its leader. Until we do, leveraging the cloud is our answer to the common sync-not-sink. With all that data up in the air, it’s up to manufacturers to make the most of it, be it a piece of clothing that feeds weather and location data back to its wearer, or a geotagging school bag that allows paranoid parents to keep track of their child.
As for IOT, will somebody step up to the task already? We might not have to wait long, for we hear that Intel has a division dedicated to the Internet of Things, albeit it being on an industrial scale for now.
Bummer #3: I’m not going to wear that
More often than not, wearables aren’t the most attractive looking of devices, contrary to what their name insinuates. People who take the time to pick out what they wear in the morning will hardly spend a small heap of money to adorn themselves with chunky conspicuous devices.
Cure: Think integrated instead of in-your-face. Intel’s micro-computing systems Edison and Galileo are tiny enough to power any thing’s intelligence. Moreover, the company is teaming up with Council of Fashion Designers of America, hip clothing label Opening Ceremony and luxury retailer Barneys to put the ‘wear’ back in wearables. Watch out for the mysterious Opening Ceremony-branded smart bracelet headed your way soon.