Figures from CCS Insight suggest that sales of smart wearable devices are going to rocket from 9.7m last year to 135m in 2018. This is predicted to include 68m smart watches and 50m smart bands. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the figures will prove accurate, though the claims don’t seem especially well-supported as there’s a lot that has to change between now and then if this massive boost in smart wearables is going to happen.
Primarily, the creators of smart wearable tech need to ensure they’re actively catering to a key market when it comes to setting trends, the fashion industry.
Consumers who are not only willing but able to spend £2k, £5k or £10k on a watch or an item of jewellery are the trendsetting future of wearable tech. If the fashion industry, and women in particular, are offered a wide range of high-end wearable tech in a variety of styles to choose from, the trend might really take off with all and not just those interested in tech. Yet at present many of these devices are for some aesthetically unappealing. If a consumer is offered a beautiful smart watch from an established luxury brand like Tag Heaur, Omega, Rolex etc, which has the desirability of a traditional high-end watch but with the extra functionality of a smart device, then perhaps wearable tech has a chance of really catching on as indicated.
It’s not unimaginable that eventually these high-end brands and fashion groups like LVMH will start having greater involvement in hardware, and not just the casing and accessories of smart tech. A Tiffany smart bracelet isn’t as far-fetched an idea as it might first seem. Once we reach a point where there’s a range of quality smart products to wear and match with what we’re wearing, how we’re feeling, or what we’re doing that day, then consumers will really get behind the idea. One day in the not too distant future it might be that someone going for a run puts on their hardy GPS smart wristband, before changing to go to a gig and putting on their more stylish smart watch. The possibilities of wearable tech are endless, but until the technology is more widely adopted by consumers, the tech giants and brands aren’t going to feel confident enough to invest in it.
Ultimately it may well take a greater push by Google with its Google Glass or a brand leader like Fitbit to get us to the tipping point where wearable tech is the norm. There are voices in the industry saying it’ll never take off because of privacy concerns; we must remember similar arguments were made when the internet was opened to mass consumer use. This is no time to be technologically impotent. The fact remains that with the phenomenal potential of wearable tech, demonstrated by Google Glass, to make our day-to-day lives more efficient and enjoyable, it is the future. It might take two or three years to truly establish itself, but the moment when mainstream and luxury brands fashion brands get on board with it, we’ll know the age of wearable tech has truly arrived.