Considering wearable technology has been a tech buzzword for the past couple of years, we’re yet to see it really take off.
The definitive tech buzzword of 2014 was undoubtedly “wearables”. Everywhere you looked, read in tech magazines or searched online, writers and trend forecasters seemed to be heralding a new dawn where we wouldn’t just own our computers, we would wear them. Well into 2015, the hype seems not to have died down yet, with tech trend analysis firm CSS Insight predicting that “sales of wearables will grow from 29 million in 2014 to 172 million in 2018, with a spike in 2015”.
If this is the case then it’s easy to start wondering: where are all these wearables? With the exception of perhaps the Apple Watch—Apple released the product in April of this year to much fanfare, but have been tight-lipped about the product’s sales success—the actual reality of tech denizens walking around untethered but fully connected hasn’t seemed to come to fruition quite yet. While the Apple Watch didn’t have the rapid-fire, world-changing uptake of, say, the first iPhone, that hasn’t stopped plenty of competitors from getting in on the wristwatch market too, with Android, Samsung, and even Tag Heuer coming out with new releases later in 2015.
Then of course there is the glaring example of Google Glass. With a promotional strategy that seemed to be more about media hype than the actual product itself, Google gave the product to a select and small group of tech influencers hoping to turn them into product evangelists before development of the actual product was completed. While plenty was written about the beta version, in the end the product seemed to be the butt of everyone’s joke. Perhaps the market wasn’t ready for such an obvious and imposing kind of wearable, but for whatever reason Google found itself with a big failure on its hands and announced it was shutting down development and sales of the product early in 2015. In a year where wearable sales were supposed to spike dramatically, how is it that one of the primary contenders for market share seemed to fail so miserably?
Of course, no one knows for sure. It’s possible that the kind of wearable product that’s really going to strike a chord with consumers and provide a utility that hasn’t been tapped before—along the lines of the successful all-in-one fitness watch FitBit—just hasn’t been developed or released yet. As soon as it does, we might see the groundswell of consumer sales and hype that we’ve been reading about for a couple of years now.
In the meantime, here are some other wearable products that could be contenders:
Skully Helmet: Similar in function and concept to Google Glass, but without the ridiculousness of wearing a computer 24/7, this helmet is designed for motorbike riders who want full control of the road, with an eye-front display, a 180-degree rearview camera and GPS navigation.
Tag Heuer Smartwatch: As mentioned above, luxury brand Tag Heuer wants to get in on the smartwatch game. While there’s no doubt the watch will please the luxury-inclined consumer, there’s no word on the exact apps and functionality it will have yet, though GPS features, health tracking and sports-themed apps are likely contenders.
Oculus Rift: The specifics of this virtual reality headset have already been available publicly for some time, as the creator made the decision to release to the entire source code publicly in 2014. However, the consumer version (which is owned by Facebook) is set to release in 2016, which will undoubtedly be an exciting day for gamers.
Quell: It’s rare to find a wearable with a purpose that’s not gratuitous, but Quell might be it. Designed to stimulate the nerves in order to stimulate pain relief via the brain, this product could be a game-changer for those who experience chronic pain.
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