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Overcoming the Wearable Fear Factor

First it was the phone. Once we loaded it up with awesome apps we couldn’t stop looking at it.The distractibility factor became so high that videos of people talking about the problem of never looking up from phones went viral.

Now we are heading for what many claim is the next evolution of our Internet addiction: wearables. Wearables are miniature electronic devices that are often worn under, with or on top of clothing usually for the purpose of collecting or providing information or entertainment to the user. According to an article in Mashable, “experts believe that wearables and the Internet of Things — the concept that all devices, objects and systems could be web connected and share information in the future — will have a widespread effect on the way we live our everyday lives by 2025.” In fact, 83% of the 1,600 industry experts surveyed in Pew Research report believe the category will dominate the mainstream in about 11 years.

As soon as talk of wearables started to hit the mainstream, however, we saw two clearly defined camps emerge:

  1. The early adopters — technophiles who loved wearable devices, like Google Glass, and wouldn’t take them off, even in the shower (Admittedly, the team at L4 Digital falls primarily into this camp, although no one is showering with them just yet.)
  2. The skeptics who thought that wearables were expensive, unnecessary, and even a little bit creepy

In discussing Google Glass in the context of wearables one of the product’s biggest champions, Robert Scoble, recently said: “People are scared of losing their humanness. […] They are right to be scared of that.” That statement really sums up the crux of the entire wearables problem. For our society to transition from early adopters with an Internet-enabled watch to mainstream adoption of everything from wearable shirts, baby monitors, and glasses to cameras, fitness monitors and more, then the industry needs to remove the fear factor.

Wearables need to be seen as something that we simply use to make our lives better. Devices that easily fit into our daily routine to help us do our jobs, raise our kids, find a restaurant, or get healthier. They need to be designed to fit seamlessly into the current way we are living, working, and playing. They can’t ruin our chances of ever getting another date if we wear them in public or scare our friends that we are secretly recording their every move. The messaging around wearables needs to talk about solving some of the genuine problems that we face every day – not just offer some ‘nice-to-have’ luxury features that come with a large price tag.

That is why at L4 Digital, when we work with customers on their wearable projects we stress the importance uniting the design, functionality, and launch strategies of a wearable device up-front. If you can connect those three components into a thoughtful product launch then there is a good chance your device will avoid ending up in the growing graveyard of flawed wearable devices.

At L4, we love our wearable devices and are quite optimistic about the future. If used as tools to help us, rather than consume us, the potential impact that wearables could make on the way we live our lives could be profound. Certainly the rumors out of companies, like Apple and Google, suggest that we may soon see wearable innovations in the medical and healthcare fields that could literally add years to our lives. By working together to overcome some of the initial public perception problems that wearables face, we may see the emergence of The Internet of Things much sooner than anyone predicted.

Image courtesy of Madison Bersuch for Unsplash.

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