Wearable tech: Beyond the iWatch

My iPod Nano watch has been with me for some time now and yet it still comes up in conversation – most recently in a client meeting last Friday. I bought it because it’s a nice looking watch with some extra features – music, radio, podcasts, fitness – although with the buzz around Apple’s imminent iWatch and Google’s Glass beta, I’ve realised it’s just a small part of the growing trend for wearable technology.

iPad Nano watch - retro wearable tech

It probably, no definitely, needs a better descriptive term although ‘wearable tech’ is fast embedding itself into our day to day lives with recent research from Juniper suggesting that nearly 15 million wearable smart devices (e.g. watches, glasses, health and fitness monitors) will be sold this year and nearly 70 million will be sold by 2017.

Aside from the obvious personal impact this might have on us as individuals, we’re interested in how users (you and I) will interact with these devices and how it will influence user interfaces. We can expect much more accurate voice recognition and motion interaction and our guess is that there will still be the need to connect to a second screen app of some sort to analyse data (for the foreseeable future at least), just like the UP wristband/app combo below.

UP wristband wearable tech apps

Branded wearable tech

The other big factor to consider is how marketers will be able to tap in to the ‘wearable tech’ ecosystem and what part we will play as a digital creative agency. There have already been major concerns raised about the potential intrusive nature of Google Glass on privacy issues but there are also huge advantages for brands to be much more ‘useful’ to their customers. Nike have already made their mark in this area with the Nike+ FuelBand and once the take up of such wearable devices becomes mainstream (and it will) then expect to see a brand rush onto the market similar to that seen in the app market.

If you want to get inspired by some ‘wearable tech’ ideas then Mashable is a pretty good starting point – touchscreen tees, smart socks and bionic contact lenses all covered.

As for a better term for ‘wearable tech’, how about iWear, Connected Clobber, Tech Togs or Wired Wear?

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