Get Ready For Wearable Tech.
You have a Â cable management system for your corporate data center servers; I have a cable management system for my car. Â I have not one, but two battery packs with me – at all times – just in case anything needs recharging. Â While writing this I have 7 screens pointed at me. Â I recently used my woodworking skills to create a custom cradle for my iPhone. Â Are you getting the picture? Â I’m a gadget geek. Â And things are about to get worse – I mean better – for both of us.
Wearable computers?!? Yes!
The next few years will be the “Internet of Me“. Devices are beingÂ built to connect you to your digital world – Â and you’ll wear it. Want proof?
- Smart Watches: Recently Pebble announced it will finally ship it’s smart watch. The Pebble will connect with Android and iPhone devices giving wearers easy access to texts, calendar reminders, emails, running stats and their music catalog. Yes, it’s totallyÂ fantastic; I got a gray one – it will go with a suit and a t-shirt.Â Click for a video overview.
- Bluetooth headphones: I just ordered anÂ Air-Fi bluetooth headphonesÂ that will allow me to control my smartphone from the headset. As a podcast addict who’s continually getting tangled in my ownÂ earbud wires, IÂ haveÂ high hopes of going wireless. Â It will also let me quietly watch zombie TV shows while @FairlyOddMother sleeps soundless next to me. *Okay, considering these as a *new* gadget is an admittedly a bit of a stretch, but they are pretty cool.
- Health devices: Wearable gadgets like theÂ Nike FuelÂ and theÂ fitbit FLEXÂ have been on the market for a while and they continue to get easier to use with each iteration of devices. Although health is important to me, I have concerns about this category of gadgets, see below.
- Heads Up Display: Soon you won’t have to be an air force pilot to rock a HUD. Â Google announced Project Glass and Time Magazine recognized the gadget as one of 2012’s most innovative products. Â This technology will provide an information overlay to your everyday life. Click here for a Google Glasses preview. Â This product category is among the most revolutionary. Â I expect the glass movement will take hold but eventually in a different form. Â perhaps a sticker that you can attach to your eyeglasses or sunglasses yet such a development is likely 5+ years away.
[notice]I love gadgets… but do IÂ needÂ another gadget?[/notice]
Things to think about before buying that next *cool* gadget:
- Value – are you going to gain intrinsic value when you insert this device into your life relative to the cost? Â Ask yourself: what problem is the gadget solving? Is it saving you time or helping your business grow? Â It’s easy to get sucked in to the new device that’s being talked about on Mashable, but look at the full cost and value of the gadget before you buy.
- Ecosystem – does the device bring with it an entire set of new headaches? new cables, adapters, chargers, batteries, cases, backups, security, data synchronization, etc. Â Manufacturers and software vendors have a vested interest in locking you into their product ecosystem (Apple’s Lightening connector comes to mind). Â Think about the total cost in dollars and effort required to add the new device to your tech arsenal before clicking “buy.”
- Lifecycle – is the gadget likely to exist as standalone product for the foreseeable future or are its features likely to be replicated in a device you already have – like a smart phone? Â GPS and eReaders are examples of devices that are waning because their features are being incorporated into smartphones and tablets.Â The category of personal health devices is a good topic for discussion here. Â People very interested in exercise and health may be keen to get a Nike Fuel or fitbit FLEX, but many people will be happy to wait until these features are provided in the next evolution of smart watches. Â I can easily see the next hardware version of Pebble (or maybe iPebble?) providing such features.
Brace yourself for the blowback
For the most part, it’s been easy to be an early adopter of new technologies of the past. Â Although it may be impolite to stare at your smartphone and ignore the people around you, it was still cool to have such a new device. Â The “cool factor” will hold true for some personal tech like the health oriented wrist bands and maybe smart watches. However, a lot of people will think that it’s allÂ too much. Â They’ll say “I just need a watch that tells time”. Â And when it comes to a heads up display, well you’re definitely going to attract attention with one of those in a conference room. Â People at MIT have been wearing computers for decades and they looked pretty silly; however the new personal gadgets are much more developed and aimed at the mass market, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to think it’s “cool.” Â Early adopters will hear:
“I will never wear a smart watch or that thing on my face.”
These are the tech laggards who also said, “I will never enter a credit card into a website.” Â I’m just saying – prepare yourself.
Are you ready?
In summary, consumers are about to be deluged by a new category of products – wearable technology. Â Manufacturers will be unleashing confusing and incompatible devices and while some will be revolutionary, many will be knock-offs or poorly conceived. Â As these new devices are made available, ask yourself if they add true value to your life, look at how the gadget fits into your current ecosystem of devices and think about whether you want to be an early adopter of this technology or wait for personal technology to go mainstream.
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Feature Photo Credit: Bfishshadow