Tell me, do you find interesting a watch that monitors your blood glucose levels or your heartbeats? I don’t. Sure, I’d be interested in knowing how it works but, would I buy one just because of that? No.
Since all the rumors of the iWatch started, I got really excited about the possibilities. I imagined a light wristband that I could use to talk to Siri and check my phone notifications without taking it out of my pocket. Now all I hear about is sleep patterns, glucose levels and heartbeats. Not my cup of tea.
Don’t get me wrong, I like activity trackers, I own a Fitbit One after all. But its gamification factor is what actually caught my attention. If it was all about accounting for my daily steps, I would have already stopped using it, but competing with my friends makes the whole experience a new one each day. I completely agree with Alvaro that smart sensors are the future: little gadgets making our lives easier, more productive or even more fun, is the next big thing.
Today’s wearables have many technical problems to solve: battery life and user interface are some of them. However, the biggest challenge is to find a purpose for it in our lives, because every person is different, with very specific needs and goals.
I know several people who could never have an activity tracker in their pocket: they would forget to charge it regularly, they would send it into the washing machine with their jeans or simply they wouldn’t care that much about how many miles they walked in a day and would lose interest in a month. But what if that gadget was as useful and important for them as their smartphone?
That’s the challenge: to keep consumers interested and engaged. Health is the current focus of many smart sensors, and a lot of people benefit from them to keep an active and healthy life. However, as the market matures, we’ll start seeing other trends, focused for example on making us more productive or on giving us more control, like the Pebble smartwatch or the Nest Thermostat do today. That’s the only way for wearables (and smart sensors in general) to appeal to a bigger sector of the population.
And of course, once wearables become mainstream, design and personal customization will play a big role since not everyone will want to wear the same gadget. This is already happening in the smartphone market, just look at the Moto X and its Motomaker website.
Wearables are not for everyone, and that’s going to be a challenge for all the companies betting on smart sensors: how to become a necessity, how to blend in with our daily habits so that we cannot live without them anymore.
Image via The Connectivist