We are progressing towards a real technological revolution, a gigantic wave of new possibility that will change the face of technology. Industries have made good use of wearable technology and doubled their revenues. We are progressing into an era where products we use day-to-day will be replaced with smarter and interconnected versions of themselves. Yet, our individual consumer has not yet warmed up to the same idea. Thanks to what the fashion industry has done to this world, most consumers are reluctant in sporting chunky technology that looks out of the ordinary. So must innovators of wearable technology worry as much about the aesthetics and design now as they do about the functionality?
Lately it seems that designers are using upscale materials and refining the size, shape and feel of their gadgets to glamorize geek wear, and for good reason. As much as wearable technology is more for the functionality, it has also become a style statement for the well to do and technologically advanced. At the same time, the target group that wearables are meant for are also those who are fashion conscious. It seems most people are still reluctant to sport bulky and chunky gadgets that actually look like gadgets. “Silicon Valley has this misconception that if the technical feature is well-built enough, consumers will lap it up, no matter what it looks like. This is not the case,” says Kate Unsworth, founder and CEO of Kovert Designs, a London-based startup that’s launching sleek, smart jewelry.
We have seen a large number of wearable technology that is beginning to concentrate on the look of their gadgets, and incorporate it with fashion. For example, Intel’s MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory), is a stylish bracelet that displays communications and alerts on a 1.6 inch curved sapphire-glass touchscreen. Designer Rebecca Minkoff teamed with Case-Mate to create smart jewelry; her gold chain-link bracelet with pyramid studs alerts wearers to calls and texts would be at home in the pages of Vogue. Wow, right? Or take the most popular example, the Apple Smart Watch. Ben Arnold, executive director and industry analyst for consumer technology at the NPD group notes, “We did some studies on wearables, and 51 percent of consumers who are interested in buying a smartwatch said they won’t even consider it unless it fits in with their personal style.”
These popular pieces of wearable technology have definitely found success in the arms of fashion. However, fashion is fickle, the term itself means that you frequently change what you wear to remain current after. So how long would it be before their fashionable buyers would get bored of donning the same thing day after day? As fashionable as the product may be, fashion still does not allow you to wear the same stylish thing day in and day out. In fact, most of our fashion conscious shy away from repeating anything at all. At the end of the day, a one-size-fits-all approach to wearables does not appeal to the masses, and that’s where the industry needs to get thinking. Real success with these wearables might be seen when the technology is subtly included in a whole line of jewelry or indeed an entire apparel collection. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see which big fish comes up with a solution to this one. It can’t be too long from now.