In spite of all the excitement around wearable technology, the truth of the matter is that we’re still at the very early stages of development and adoption.

The ecosystem is still quite restricted and the wearables that have achieved a decent level of uptake offer limited functionality.

Even so, products like the activity bands and smartwatches are leading the way and adoption will likely increase as they get more affordable and battery life improves.

As the market matures, cheaper imports will lead to increased competition, which means profitability will be harder to find and wearables will have to offer improved functionality.

Above all, the next step in the evolution of the wearables market relies on finding a compelling use case.

We’ve already seen a number of Internet of Things devices that sound amazing but provide no real value to the user (the smart cup, anyone?).

So how can those companies designing wearables make sure they create a product that people won’t be able to live without?

To help marketers get an understanding of this challenge, Econsultancy has published a new report called A Marketer's Guide to Wearable Technology.

It aims to demystify the world of wearable technology, give you an overview of the current state of wearables in key markets and explain how your company can succeed in the wearable space.

Author Martin Talks has identified three factors that will help to ensure your wearable finds an audience:

Utility

Utility is the most obvious factor. Think about the apps you use most often on your phone – chances are that social, maps and messaging apps will be top of the list.

Therefore wearables need to fulfil some kind of utility that is integral to our daily lives.

You wouldn’t leave the house without your phone, keys and wallet, but would you panic if you left an activity band behind?

Wearables will achieve this as part of the Internet of Things, making us a part of the network of interconnected objects and now people. 

This will enable such benefits as ‘persistent identity’ whereby we are recognised and doors unlock, travel is paid for and coffee brewed. 

There are clear-cut business cases in sectors like industrial and military and it is likely they will lead the way.

Entertainment 

Another compelling reason for people to use wearable technology. 

In particular, virtual reality offers this potential with its ability to enable people to be present anywhere they wish to be. 

However there is a shortage of content for these devices that needs to be created for the virtual reality viewers to take off.

Participation

Participation is a key driver of us all as humans. We want to be part of the herd. 

Think about smartphone apps again – how often do you check Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

We are social animals. So far the attempts to socialise wearables, such as the ability to compare your running times against a friend, have been limited. 

But once the adoption of wearables reaches a wider audience, a tipping point will be reached where people will want to be part of this revolution.

A handy visual...

These three factors can be expressed as a formula for wearable engagement:

For a more in-depth look at the state of the wearables market, download our new report.

David Moth

Published 3 March, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (4)

Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee, Web Analytics Manager at Evans Cycles

As a person who wants to get into the wearable tech area, I find this very interesting David.

I'm looking at smartwatches currently and have been impressed by the design of the Huawei Smartwatch (http://goo.gl/2DJDQ4) but am still holding out for the criteria you referred to.

I'm not afraid to be an early adopter, even though they pay the most and get the less enhanced version, but I find that wearables aren't as compelling as they need to be to solidly break into the mainstream.

I expect the Apple Watch will help raise awareness to the general public, but I'm certainly not convinced that they'll meet the criteria you outlined above!

almost 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Managing Editor at Barclaycard

Hi Daniel, thanks for your comment. I’m by no means an early adopter and as yet I’ve not seen any wearables that I think fulfil any real use case.

And I agree about the Apple Watch. It’ll probably sell by the truck load, but it doesn’t sound like it solves any particular problem.

almost 3 years ago

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Elisa del Galdo, Head of Customer Experience at Blue Latitude

Hi David I like your visual, but it is missing one essential item - and that is behaviour change. Most wearables only 'count' or 'track', what the wearer does, but does not encourage the wearer to change their behaviour for better outcomes. Most people who wear digital trackers do so because they either are very self-motivated (this is a small percentage of the general population) and want to know what they are actually doing, and evaluating their increasing or improving performance. A large majority of people who purchase wearables assume that just counting what they do will also motivate them to change their behaviour for the better. Often this works for about 30-60 days, then they lose motivation and go back to their embedded behaviour. What is really required is for the devices to be designed in such a way that they can see from the data, what barriers or triggers are being experienced and then deliver to the wearer strategies to overcome them- and create the new healthier habits that they are aiming for... unfortunately, I have not seen anything that incorporates the behavioural change models necessary for long term change.

almost 3 years ago

Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee, Web Analytics Manager at Evans Cycles

I found your comment very interesting Elisa.

Whilst I do agree with you, your answer seems to be solely focused around improving behaviour (such as exercising).

I believe that this alone won't be enough to encourage Smartwatches to become a household product. I feel that Smartwatches need to adapt to your life and become an integral part of it: Just like how when phones came out, we didn't need them to optimise behaviour - we simply needed them to solve a problem and they gradually became part of every day life for everyone with each enhancement.

Companies often struggle with how to best take advantage of a new medium. Just take TV as an example. One of the first TV adverts was a 30 second picture and a voice over which said the name of the brand and a tagline, forcing the viewer to look at one picture which didn't change for about 25 seconds (clearly drawing from Radio!).

Maybe Smartwatches need to find their own space by designers getting more creative with how we can use them to best take advantage of the new medium and sync it with our daily lives.

almost 3 years ago

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