The Problem With Wearables

Last week, I wrote about the smart watch and the challenges technology faces as it approaches us more intimately. In the next few weeks, smart devices will be ubiquitous, with the big players showcasing their products at IFA

But we need to look beyond the watch, because something amazing is about to happen that we might be overlooking: technology is entering a new area, a whole different space where other rules apply, fashion.

On the one hand, this is fantastic because every area technology touches is turned upside down, allowing for more innovation and evolution, and ultimately better experiences for the user. However, we may have overlooked some issues in this wearable technology trend.

As we mentioned earlier, the fashion industry has a set of rules that, in some ways, are immune to pure technology as we know it. While brands like Beats and Apple embody culture and trends in their products, the transition to wearable technology implies profound changes in the way we think about tech.

Fashion is subjective, differentiation, personality, uniqueness — values that do not share a common pattern. Fashion allows you to express yourself to the world, and sets you apart. This uniqueness is accentuated when we jump across different cultures, where fashion patterns are vastly different.

Lady Gaga wearing Beats

This is a significant challenge that tech has never encountered before. Desktop PCs never had these problems, but portable PCs and smartphones brought them into more open environments. Which also explains the raise of cases, sleeves, and add-ons for your phone. However, watches, clothes, accessories, and jewelry targeted by tech companies require a precise understanding of fashion to be appealing globally.

Tech companies are global and can’t imagine selling different products for each demographic and region. Product lines will become chaotic, and causing a great impression at a party is way more important than counting the number of steps taken so far.

Moreover, wearable things must fit different sizes because everyone is different. Fashion companies have been around for a while and have understood market dynamics to stay in business. They built a reputation and prestige, representing their products and intangible values that brands stand for.

It’s clear that technology is coming to wearables, and a watch might be the first step, but who knows what’s next. The key to mass adoption will be the understanding of fashion and trend. The products must speak to people in a way they’ve never done before in a fashion way.

In the next post, we’ll discuss how wearable technology could work out.

First published on September 02, 2014