Big problem with wearable tech: It’s not particularly wearable.
Part of this failing is a clear lack of any fashion or sense of style evident in the current crop of wearable tech offered to consumers. So, what chance would wearable tech for work have?
It’s as if wearable tech makers think we all wear Star Trek uniforms or overalls to work, use character-based, green-screened applications for our jobs, and that we remain hidden from customers, suppliers, co-workers, the general public—and each other—as we work.
Waiting for Etro to enter the wearable tech space.
Granted, the style dimension of wearable tech is now being given attention by manufacturers. However, with some notable exceptions, such as what we think the Motorola Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch will look like, I still don’t think that manufacturers have got styling and fashion considerations right.
Google Glass got off to a bad start and set what some might say is the wearable tech standard for dorkiness and worse. Yet the current and mooted frame designs aren’t exactly setting the fashion world on fire either. As for those garish colored rubbery fitness bands and industrial steel-like smartwatches that are a throwback to the knuckle-dusters in a 70’s gangster flick, well they’re eminently avoidable by the style conscious too.
Getting the fashion element of wearable tech right will ensure rapid adoption in the enterprise. We can no longer shape boundaries easily between work and the rest of our lives. What we wear, or carry, says something about us, generally. Technology is no exception.
In the enterprise, the highly visible, personal and social based roles of users that take pride in their personal appearance, have lofty notions of fit and finish, or are people who are conscious of fitting in with cultures of all sorts want to send a visual message to those around them by what they wear. They don’t want to look like they’re auditioning for a remake of Back to the Future.
When wearable tech makers empathize with such feelings of users, we’ll see real progress. The wearable tech fashion future is already getting brighter though, as fashionistas see the potential when it becomes a matter of context.
I concur with the view that wearable tech design needs to “be invisible or stunning, there’s no middle ground." But, such a principle goes beyond eliminating dorkiness. It’s about style.
Fashion and style sense then is a matter of user experience, and one that we will see more attention being given to by UX pros.
Wearable tech clearly needs a Kate Moss Glastonbury 2005 moment. Hell, if you can get the fashion dimension of wearable tech right for teens, then you can do it for the rest of us too!
Watch this space. Or catwalk.