I participated in an interesting wearables session today that emphasized the different areas where wearable technologies can change our lives. In a good way, that is.
I admit, that being a technology nerd, I am willing to adopt anything that will be thrown at my face and runs on some kind of energy, and yet, wearables did raise valid doubts in regards to the value they bring.
Here’s a list of 5 areas topics in which wearables will improve our lives. If you are skeptical about the value of wearables – continue reading.
1. Personal Productivity
"Getting things done without forcing you to change your habits."
This quotes belong to the first speaker, Pebble’s CEO Eric Migicovsky who by the way introduced a second new Pebble model within a week (Pebble Time Steel) and presented a new concept of modular wearable with Pebble’s Smartstrap technology that enables partners to add special capabilities and sensors (such as GPS) through their own straps and connect them to Pebble through a new API.
Pebble’s vision is to create wearables for the wrists that make people more productive.
My view is that personal productivity with a smartwatch (assuming that it’s a good one of course) is that the watch helps you quickly recover from incoming interrupts and get on with your life.
The watch notifications should help you quickly digest the information, react to it with minimal effort (without interacting with your smartphone) in order to minimize the interrupt, and quickly recover from the context switching and get back on track.
To be honest, I haven’t seen such a product yet. Most smartwatches still fall short in the following:
- They do not filter the interrupts well enough (based on type, context, time, location) – resulting in a notification overflow.
- The contextual actions are often too limited and take you back to your smartphone. Something which is missing the point.
But it will come. Give it a few more month, one Apple Watch and it will come.
2. Personal Health
There are plenty of examples of wearables that can help you improve your personal health, here are two of them:
Wearable devices can keep track of our habits, fitness, sleep, and as a result – make us healthier.
To my opinion this is where wearables really shine, and it’s also where they are irreplaceable.
The first speaker to relate to the health aspect was Fitbit’s Gareth Jones who talked about Fitbit’s latest fitness bands.
As an experienced Fitbit user I can tell you this product can change your life by turning different kinds of activities into “fitness” activities. Using the Fitbit Force I managed to go up 30 floors per day (Fitbit’s stairs counter is an amazing feature most activity trackers don’t have). Every day!. And this is just one example of the things I started doing thanks to the Fitbit Force.
The next speaker was InteraXon’s CEO Ariel Garten who introduced a fascinating product called Muse.
Muse is a brain sensing headband that acts as a fitness tracker for your brain.
It “senses” your thoughts and therefore can help you clean them up and help you get into a better mental state.
Muse comes with a mobile app that provides “focused attention training” and can really improve your life quality through 3 minutes long daily sessions where you will be guided to clear external and internal distractions .
The presentation was well delivered and made me think about many other wearables probably being developed as I’m writing these words:
- Smart toothbrush that warns you whenever caries is found, or even better – takes care of it…
- Smart hairbrush that warns you if you are losing hair
- Smart shoe that improves your walking habits
- Integration of smart wearables with games that improve kid’s capabilities to concentrate
Check out Muse in Amazon
Now think about it for a second… if all of us are connected through a headband, then Professor Xavier can track us through the Cerebro machine, listen to our thoughts, and… well, that can become a bit scary actually.
3. Enterprise Productivity
SAP speakers focused on high level vision and didn’t actually show anything but the usual examples which are discussed when speaking about wearables at work include being able to work with your hands free (using smart glasses and voice activations) and the ability to translate “personal productivity” into “enterprise productivity”.
As described above, wearables can help field employees stay productive while incoming interrupts come in. Employees, just like private users, should be able to tackle those interrupts without causing a delay in their current work which is sometimes time sensitive.
In addition, when talking about the enterprise world, there is often an engagement problem. If an action is too cumbersome to perform, some employees will find creative ways to “skip” it, causing different kinds of damage to the organization they serve.
Wearables can turn cumbersome actions into quick, fun actions (imagine a simple gesture that notifies a customer that his technician is on his way), and as a result improve employees alignment and engagement.
Another important aspect is Health & Safety.
This topic becomes more and more important for enterprise companies, and wearables are the right technology to address this growing need. Given that those organizations are willing to invest in this field of course. I heard of a police department that equipped the policemen with no less than 8 different wearable devices tracking their movements, hearth-rate, stress level and more, in order to better monitor them while working on the streets.
4. Smart Fashion
The Swarovski Shine Collection, combines Swarovski’s crystal jewelry and Misfit’s activity and sleep tracking technology in two new wearable products and nine accessories, jointly designed to give some fashion edge to the wearables market.
Joan Ng from Swarovski described the company’s move into the wearables industry and how the combination of technology and fashion can work well.
Here’s a nice video showing the first glamorous wearable device:
When smartphones started to appear more than 10 years ago, they were mostly used by business people and technology fans. As they evolved, new forms of entertainment were created, and today we use mobile apps to do things we didn’t think we will ever need or want to do. I believe the same is about to happen with wearables. It’s hard to predict what those things would be. Maybe it will be a new form of communicating with each other (how about Apple’s Digital Touch?), and maybe it will be something completely different, but once the technology will evolve and become widely adopted – there will be new creative opportunities for sure which will lead to some innovative apps.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that wearables are taking over MWC this year. Most of them are still limited and immature. I must say that some of them even look ridiculous.
It’s fascinating to see how quickly they evolve though, so even if you don’t feel you need one right now, there are good chances that by MWC16 you will be wearing more than one.
(Notice I managed to write a full article without mentioning my beloved Microsoft Band.. oops… sorry)