Google Glass may have been garnering many column inches recently but wearable technology and apps are still relatively niche products. 18% of the 4,000 adults in the US and UK who participated in research (conducted by Rackspace and the Centre for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London), reported using a wearable app – mainly for fitness or sleep monitoring. In other research, (this time by Forrester) only 6% of online adults in the US report using a wearable device to monitor their sports performance.
However, those that were using such wearable apps were happy with their performance. According to the Rackspace research, 82% of US respondents and 71% of UK respondents felt that the apps had made a positive impact on their lives.
The same research also suggests privacy issues were a concern for roughly one half of the respondents, although a significant minority expressed no concerns about some data and information sharing. This included wearing devices that linked directly with healthcare providers. Privacy concerns arise mainly from the fact that wearable apps are directly linked to cloud services.
Another piece of research suggests that the potential global market for smart glasses could reach 10 million units by 2016. Growth will depend on what developers are making available. This will included augmented reality apps that can easily integrate into other tools.
The future of wearables
In the late 1990s I heard a technologies futurist speak about the future of consumer goods. He predicted ‘intelligent shampoo bottles’ which collected usage data to provide feedback to the manufacturer. The bottles would also know how often we were shampooing our hair and would send you a message when you needed to buy more. The speaker was predicting the internet of things and the power of data, sharable via portable devices.
In the same way that apps helped grow the adoption of smartphones, apps are key to the successful future of wearable technology. Third party developers will enhance the performance of the technology. Big name developers such as Twitter, Facebook and the New York Times are working to develop apps for Google Glass. Apple too will be seeking to replicate the success of iPhone aps and will work with its community of developers to do so.
We can look forward to contact lenses with Google Glass features; smart watches; smart textiles and much more. Cosnumers are already predicting uses for wearables which go beyond the existing fitness applications. 44% of those who participated in Forrester research said they’d be interested in devices whch would unlock their homes and cars. 30% said they’d like a device to make media recommendations based on mood. 29% said they’d be interested in devices that tracked their children!
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