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From the Hong Kong Electronics Fair: "The Dirty Secret of Wearable Devices"

April 23, 2014 By Kirk Hiner
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Wearable technology is one of the hottest trends in the electronics industry. Products such as fitness bands and smart watches are fashionable, and it’s expected that by 2017 wearable devices will surpass the PC, tablet and phone markets combined. But according to Henri-Nicholas Olivier, CEO of ConnectDevice Ltd., there’s a dirty secret that the industry isn’t revealing; people who are buying wearables aren’t keeping them.

Olivier stated in his seminar on “The Growth of Connected Life” at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) last week that sustained activity for wearables drops from 100% to less than 50% within three months, according to Endeavour Partners (September 2013).

Analysts are mixed on the potential for wearable technology, but Olivier feels it’s safe to assume it will be massive. He stated that smart watches and fitness bands are a $60 billion dollar market, with connected glasses coming in at $20 billion (Google Glass may have incredible brand awareness, but it’s not a sizable market due to limited availability). And although Olivier didn’t mention it in his presentation, many people have a strong adverse reaction to Google Glass that smart watches and fitness bands will never garner.

Connected devices face a few hurdles for widespread implementation, including the “Big Brother” effect. Do you want your watch manufacturer to know where and when you use certain features of the product? What will they do with that information? Likely the same thing Apple, Samsung and other phone manufacturers are doing with that information right now.

A hurdle more easily addressed by designers and manufacturers is how to integrate the technology into our lives, and to make it something people will want to use and show off. Fitness bands currently have a distinct look about them; people wear them not only for the functionality, but to present the image that they lead an active life. On the other hand, Olivier feels that this has a negative effect; he’s found that some people will not wear fitness bands because they don’t want to convey the message that they need to lose weight.

Another problem with smart watches in particular is battery life. “Each time a user has to charge a device,” Olivier stated in his presentation, “it’s an occasion to stop using the device.”
 

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