Wearable technology is not the new thing in the world of technology. Names like Fitbit, Xiaomi and Apple Watch have already gained a good popularity among the technology enthusiasts.
However, when we talk about the mass appeal of these products, there is still much to be desired. Right now the majority of its customers belong to the high-income group or the “Classes”. It would be interesting to explore the different reasons that are preventing the wearable technology to enjoy mass appeal despite from being in the market for several years now:
1.) Exclusive Prices:
Prices are the prime concern for the masses. The present costs of wearables are too exclusive to appeal to them. It is simply impractical to penetrate the mass market if the product prices don’t align with their financial capability. Bringing down the prices needs “root level efforts”.
The major challenge would be how to lower down the prices without compromising with the commercial objectives.
- Developers would need to strategically customize or even replace the present production process so as to impact the major cost-building factors like design, components and functional base.
- Along with the same, the maintenance and running costs should also be taken into consideration to make it viable for the masses to continue using the product for a long period of time.
- Companies need to think out-of-the-box to restructure the design and material, modify the process and rework on running and maintenance requirements. It may need a complete overhaul and technological limitation can be a major boundary to be crossed. That’s a Herculean task, to say the least.
2.) Comfort And Convenience:
Wearables, as the name suggests, stand for something that one puts on the body and ideally he should feel comfortable with the same whole day long. Extended battery life is required that eliminates the need for frequent charging. Fortunately, a good number of branded wearables have significantly improved the battery life of their products. However, ease of use and benefits of wearables over their traditional counterparts are 2 areas of bottleneck that are yet to be resolved.
- You may not find much difficulty in performing simple tasks like tapping or sliding the 2″ screen of your smartwatch. So, general tasks like answering a call locking/unlocking the screen won’t cause much inconvenience. But there are other tasks that are pretty inconvenient for the wearers:
- Lengthy or more demanding tasks like reading a message, notification or mail may require you to squint. Typing on such small screen is almost impossible to even if it is a 2-line quick reply that you want to type.
- Thinking in the real-life scenario, it is still difficult to work on the smartwatches while you are on the go or traveling via public conveyance.
- Their traditional counterparts- the smartphones are comparatively much better as far as the user interface and experience is concerned. As a bonus point, they are much cheaper than smartwatches
- Interestingly, most of the other accessories that can be connected with wearable technologies are much smaller in size or more complex to be used as interactive devices…Think of a necklace or a ring!
- Hence, talking in the context of real-life benefits and user interface we cannot really say wearable technology is an evolution over the popular technology products as the latter is fully capable of offering the same functionalities and is even more convenient to use. Easy availability and economical prices, better user interface are two other fronts on which the “traditional products” are even better than the wearable technology.
3.) Consistent Performance During Constant Use:
The functional capacity of the wearable products can be similar to those of their predecessors but the prime concern is the stable performance over a long period of time even if they are used extensively or frequently on a daily basis.
It needs some time before we can get the right answer to this question
- Do they have the capacity to perform consistently over a long period of time without its performance being affected?
- Besides, it is only with time that the regular users can decide their expectations for specific products and evaluate the relevance of the same. How well can the wearable products be able to perform in this aspect can is another major point of concern?
4.) Blending Aesthetic And Functional Excellence:
While technical functionality is the key benefit of wearables we cannot ignore the aesthetic as expectations of the people when they purchase wearables. Aligning the functional structure with aesthetic excellence and comfort is another challenge for the developers.
- The mass market appeal is only possible if the innovative or new age product does not force the masses to change the traditional perception.
- The major question here is- will the potential client be able to wear the comfortable GPS sensor shirts on a daily basis without feeling any inconvenience?
- Will the aesthetic presentation of NFC rings compete with the traditional rings without compromising on the functionality!
- In short, aligning the technical excellence and aesthetic presentation is another challenge that needs to be resolved if these products have to enjoy mass appeal.
5.) Is Wearable Technology Here To Last?
Wearable technology requires a huge investment of resources- time, talent and capital. Understandably, it should be able to offer the sustainable benefits to the businesses. However, it will be too early to assume then the wearable technology is here to last. It might just prove to be a trend with a limited lifecycle. In fact, if we look at the potential and present consumers of the wearable technology and penetrate deep into the usability and real if benefits of the same we would explore that this technology is still perceived as a lifestyle item for classes.
- The history is replete with the examples where any popular lifestyle products simply lost their appeal once the classes had a better substitute to spend their extra funds or flaunt their exclusivity.
- Class people using $500 Google glass to show his/her exclusivity night stop using it when they will find another, better substitute.
- So it is impossible to eliminate “Internet” from the world without leaving a deep, negative global impact. But deleting smartwatches or Google Glass from the technology scene won’t have any such social impact.
- To the most, it will only annoy the high-class gentry for some time….until they find another trend. In other words, deleting the wearables will not disrupt the global scenario.
- So, is it really useful to spend a huge amount of resources and capital on developing the “trendy products” with a limited lifecycle?
- Hence, it is the need of the hour to rework on the real-life importance and relevance of these products to make them an essential part of the society just like the internet or computers.
- Though there have been many discussing on how the weasels can help the society by facilitating ting forte the people with limited means and remote area dwellers, there is still a huge gap between the intention and implementation. Bridging this gap is another challenge to be overcome in red to offer these devices a mass appeal.