Wearables and connected devices are the primary signs of an emerging connected culture which is developing massively across the globe. The stake is two-folded: the network and services part which allows an infinite upsell opportunities with the rise of dedicated applications, and the device part which opens ways for cross-sell and development of accessories. In the end, it all sounds like a known story. Haven’t we done the same with any other device, service or network?
Some claim wearables bring us closer to reality. As Christoph Mims from Nasdaq mentions, “The result, based on what I’ve seen, is technology that allows you to both communicate with and consume not merely the Web, but physical space.” Rian Mcaskill from mHealthIntelligence details Millenials close links to connected devices, and highlights: “millennials prefer to engage with their doctors through the latest technology. The study found that 60 percent of millennials support the use of telehealth options and 71 percent would like their doctor to use a mobile application.” Unfortunately, as Todd R. Weiss explains for eWeek, “When the Apple Watch hits the consumer market in April, the smartwatch will be missing previously touted key health-monitoring features due to problems getting the features to work and potential regulatory issues.” Our habits are getting mobile, but is the rest of the system following ?
There seem to be an exhaustive list of “No”. “There is a strong need for better education of developers and healthcare professionals on developing models of care that utilize the technology effectively,” mentions Katie Wike, for HealthIToutcomes. Ewan Spence from Forbes reminds another key buying crier for wearables: “Yes it will perform many of the same functions as the currently available smartwatches and fitness trackers in the $100-$200 price bracket, but in the same way that any Italian sports car can be used to pop down to the 7-11 for some more Irn-Bru to drink, the point of the Apple Watch is not necessarily about function. It’s about fashion.”
Truth is we do seem to be unprepared. Or at least underprepared for the data waves coming ahead. That may be because we forgot an important step with regards to wearables. As Kevin C. Tofel explains on GigaOm, “I’m not sure we’re any closer to knowing what we want from these wearable devices though, or rather if we’re at a point where smartwatches are compelling enough to generate hundreds of millions of sales. That’s partly why I wasn’t surprised to see reports of only 720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014. There are other reasons of course: the first devices only started shipping in the middle of the year and the platform is brand new. But I think the central stumbling block to sales is convincing people that a smartwatch is worth buying.” On the other hand, we cannot deny wearables offer a wide opportunity for innovation, including for health services, as shows EyeMitra, a new health project lead by the MIT Lab.
Companies and industries are for sure placing bets and getting ready for the race. As Agence EP outlines on ZDNet, “Canonical (the editor of Ubuntu) has recently signed an agreement with Amazon and Microsoft enabling both Internet giants to publish more APIs for Ubuntu core.” According to Geoffray from ARUCO “Allianz France is launching an incubator programme dedicated to Big Data and connected devices”. “To take off in the long term, smart watches (or any other wearable) will have to provide a truly unique user experience, one that does more than just complement or replicate what’s already available on smartphones. This is the challenge for the wearables category as a whole right now”, remind Chris Vollmer and Matt Egol on Forbes.
There are reasons to be enthusiastic about the rise of wearables and connected devices. They for sure enable a simpler use of existing mobile technologies, while enabling a greater customization of usage, services developed in closer conjunctions with wearers’ needs. The only condition to that is making sure wearables receive and transmit information knowingly and purposely shared by consumers to transparent operators and service providers so consumers can retrieve value and benefits. Chances are we are building the model the other way around.