Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #1

wearables-realistic-finalThis is the first post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Here is a special thank you to all the people, especially the busy startup founders and CEOs, who have taken time to discuss wearable technology solutions with me.  Your time is much appreciated as you have shared insights into your products, your position in the market and your invaluable industry insight.  This space is full of people who are creative, intelligent and passionate which makes me quite bullish on where wearables will go over the coming decade.  I look forward to the journey with you.

photo credit: Rani Molla/GigaOM

Prediction #1:  Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs.

Just because a company has a great kickstarter campaign, does not mean the product isn’t a fad adopted by the early adopter techie types.  So, first a look at companies that fall under Fad, then a look at those that satisfy as satisfying is key with this prediction.

Fad: Google Glass

Google Glass is not ready for the mass consumer as there are not a lot of use cases for when regular people in their personal lives have to get information when both hands are both full making it impossible, difficult or inconvenient to just grab a phone.  Some other indicators this is a fad are that Robert Scoble is not wearing it as often and Keith Teare has given his away.  There are meaningful uses for Glass and future generations of it in industrial contexts; however, Glass for the masses is a fad device, a ground breaking fad, but a fad nonetheless.

Fad: All Single-Purpose Wrist-Worn Fitness Trackers

It would be easy to say Nike’s Fuelband is going this route since it has cut production but I’m going to be bold and say that all wrist worn fitness trackers on the market that only track fitness activity will become fad devices within 10 years.  This includes Fitbit, NordicTrack iFit Active, Garmin Vivofit, Samsung Gear Fit, Jawbone UP, Basis and even Shine, the world’s most elegant physical activity monitor (but all is not lost for Shine, you’ll see it again in the upcoming post on prediction #7).

There are two things at play that work against wrist worn fitness trackers.  First, fitness tracking can be done on a smart phone with an app like Moves without the need for another device to remember to bring and to charge.  Moves comes at a much lower price point than a wrist band (unless you include the value of the data you’re giving up but that goes under prediction #9).   Second, other alternate wearable devices can potentially provide more accurate fitness tracking through wearables on body parts that don’t move as much as an arm (You’ll see an example of this, The Dash by Bragi, in in the upcoming post on prediction #8).

Satisfy: APX Labs

The number one company I’m watching in this space is APX Labs, whose software platform Skylight empowers workers in all kinds of business scenarios with hands-free access to real-time, task related contextual information from anywhere work can be completed.  Skylight works on several devices including Google Glass; so how can I still say Glass is a fad?  Because what APX is doing is really hardware agnostic and Glass, even in industrial instances is not the best piece of hardware to work with.  Just because early adopters in industrial use cases find Glass useful, does not make it any less of a fad device because of its inherent deficiencies, battery life being one of them.  There is a place for Glass in the annuls of technical innovation as a leader, but Glass will fade as a fad and newer, better devices will trump in the coming decade.  I’m anxious to watch what APX Labs will empower its customers to do with those devices.

Satisfy: Smart Watches

In the satisfy space I’m watching smart watches.  While time will only tell who will come out as the leader, and yes I’ll stop with the puns, these are the three I’m watching:

Samsung Gear Live

Moto 360 by Motorola

iWatch, iTime or whatever Apple names its device

One of the great features of smart watches is their integration with smart phones, which with their own set of sensors can almost be considered a wearable of their own.  People are accustomed to wearing watches to satisfy the need to tell time or to wear something fashionable.  Smart watches can satisfy these and other needs.

Satisfy: Others

Many other astute entrepreneurs are tackling the challenge of providing wearable devices that satisfy customer needs, some of which will be covered in the remainder of this industry watch series.  Do you have a wearable product that satisfies customer needs?  Tell me about it in the comments below or reach out here and lets meet up and chat.

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #2

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