What role will fashion play in wearable adoption?

By On3 Marketing In Mobile Development, Sensors, Software Development, Wearables February 6, 2015

Will wearables be successful? This is not an easy question to answer. While there are a number of different people out there who are both for and against wearable technology, its ultimate place in society can’t be assured. One of the biggest arguments against smartwatches, visors and even fitness trackers is that they’re generally lacking in aesthetic appeal. But how true is this statement? Right now, there are various companies involved with wearables, and many of them are likely trying to find the right balance between fashion and function.

Wearables are likely to be embraced in significant ways as more devices of this caliber are made available to the general public. While the look of a machine is generally going to be important, a device’s value as a fashion accessory is ultimately going to depend on where and how it will be used. What is certain, however, is that in order for enterprises to best connect with the users of these devices, there will have to be an investment made in custom software development. Being able to have a specialized portal for employees or customers will increase the value of the relationships these apps foster.

Apple Watch now the center of discussion
Detractors of wearable technology have frequently turned to the physical appeal of a device as a make-or-break factor in its eventual adoption rates. This is most likely one of the reasons that Apple Watch has been designed in the way that it has. Swappable bands and a gold “Luxury” edition mean that Apple recognizes the importance of aethetics in its wearable offerings.

So if a tech company is making a watch, why can’t a watch company make a piece of tech? This is most likely the rationale behind the announcement that longtime watch company Swatch will be coming out with a competing device at the same time Apple releases its watch, according to PC Magazine.

Use will outweigh looks – in some cases
There are plenty of devices out there that we use every day, but only some of them are meant to be taken everywhere. Smartphones and laptops, for example, are meant to allow people freedom while computing. They have the same goals as many wearables, but there’s a big social difference between sitting on the train across from someone on a laptop versus someone with Google Glass strapped to their head. Part of the public’s problem with Glass was that it was too obtrusive. This was despite being designed to be as discrete as possible without sacrificing functionality. The Glass project has since been shelved for these reasons.

The uneven reception to Glass left some people wondering why Microsoft would move forward with a headset of their own that promises many of the same uses. HoloLens is decidedly bulkier than Glass and covers both eyes with a visor, which in theory would make it less likely than Glass to succeed. But the secret to Microsoft’s strategy lies in how frequently one is supposed to wear the HoloLens. Promotional material has show people walking through 3D environments in their homes and offices and taking the device off when it’s not in use.

Wearables like HoloLens, which are not designed to be constant personal assistants, have a strong likelihood of succeeding. It could be that HoloLens will be what ultimately warms the general public up to the idea of a device like Glass, but functionality is likely to be more important than how a device looks and how frequently it is worn when it comes to a headset – at least for the time being.

The ultimate purpose of fashion in wearable tech
Few people want to walk around looking like they are strapped to a computer. While wearable devices serve incredible purposes, they are not likely to experience significant adoption if they actually look like wearables. This is the idea behind both Apple and Swatch’s smartwatch strategies – rather than build something totally new, take a look at what works and figure out how to add functionality.

Essentially, wearables have to be invisible in order to be of the most value. Devices must blend with and, in a way, become part of the user. A broader acceptance of this truth will lead to less-visible devices that do not interfere in the experiences they are trying to improve.

“Whether smart watches, smart glasses or some other device becomes the indispensable wearable over the next five years, eventually the technology behind wearables will be integrated into so many objects that people will no longer think of products as smart or not,” wrote TechRepublic contributor Bill Detwiler. “Many objects and clothes will be smart in some way.”

The importance of effective software
Of course, the devices themselves are not the only component of effective wearable tech. Like other machines, smartwatches must have software in place that will allow them to be used at their fullest potential. While there are countless pre-designed enterprise programs out there, it is generally accepted that investing in custom mobile app development is a more preferable solution. One-size-fits-all applications may be too generalized for the companies that need them and are ultimately ignorant of the nuances that exist between companies. Custom software development ensures that both employees and customers are able to get the most out of their experience and increases the likelihood that they will continue to use a program after its initial launch on their devices.

Few things in business should be left up to chance. Allowing workers to download their own solution or failing to provide consumers with a specialized portal represents some serious missed potential. With more wearables entering offices in the relatively near future, it will be essential to both update existing applications for new integration opportunities and invest in new programs that consider the modern user experience.

Fashion appeal is a major consideration for wearable tech – one that more major players are picking up. It’s incredibly likely that the better these devices start to look, the more they will begin to appear. Businesses need to take notes and prepare ahead of their explosive arrival.

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