Where are Wearables We Want to Wear?


Wearables — electronic devices attached to the body in some way — are generating some serious buzz, capturing imaginations with visions of science fiction coming to life.  Although wearables have been on the market in some form or another since a complex and miniature  abacus was attached to a ring in the Qing dynasty, dramatic improvements in sensor technology and data delivery systems are introducing a whole new universe of Geekdom and style.

Wearables are cool in that techy kind of way. In part, simply because they are novel but, also because they are as much toys as they are tools, and toys are fun to show off.  Athletes (and wanna be athletes) wear their Nike Fuel Bands and FitBits to monitor their heart rate and perspiration, tech-heads check their email on their smart watches to show that they are at the front of the technology curve, and apparently someone somewhere actually wears Google Glass.  There are even augmented reality contact lenses that put an enhanced visual display directly in the eye. Cool.

Unfortunately though even a feature role in the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show show that the wearables market is still a work in progress. Am I really dumb enough to need my smart watch to tell me that I have email on my smart phone that is in my pocket? Do I need a bracelet to discover that I’m not exercising enough or that I didn’t sleep well last night? What about a sock that tells me that I touch down harder with my right heel than my left when I run? And what, exactly, do I do with all of this information?

The question that everyone is trying to solve is: What will make a wearable necessary, desirable and practical? No one seems to know just yet, although almost everyone is making some kind of a bet. Among them are almost all of the big names: GoogleSamsungNike, and Qualcomm are all in the game with products, and Apple’s iWatch is rumored to be coming to market soon.  One clear outcome of the introduction of so may wearables is that there is a lot of noise.

But even if wearables can prove themselves as practical, what will get people to wear them? So far, wearables are pretty clunky and expensive and, like other electronics, often limited by their battery life.  Although they are getting smaller, many are still pretty obtrusive.  In response to a survey of consumers who reported that wearable technology  needs to both look good and needs to fit an individual’s personal style, CSR commissioned New York jeweler Cellini to find that nexus between fashion and function and came up with this piece.  Count me as one of those waiting until the next iteration.