2015 is set to be the year of wearable technology. But can it actually make us feel cleverer?
Do you own a wearable? If not, it’s likely you soon will given that 2015 is shaping up to be the year we finally fully embrace the integration of computers onto our bodies and clothing.
From smartwatches and fitness trackers to Google Glass and smart jackets, consumer interest in wearable technology has slowly gathered pace throughout the last few years, and will be further peaked with the release of the Apple Watch, the company’s first smartwatch, in the spring.
But while we all know wearables can monitor our steps, heartrate and act as a more compact phone for sending and receiving messages, can wearables actually make us cleverer?
Almost half (47 per cent) of individuals who use wearable technology feel more intelligent, while 61 per cent felt more informed, research from Samsung has found.
The Korean company has already released five smartwatches, so is fully invested within wearables and the future of the sector. I asked technology expert Ben Wood of CCS Insight if he agreed.
“A wearable device can certainly help you feel more informed. Rather than having to reach for your smartphone you can quickly see who is calling or review a message and then decide whether to action it or not,” he said.
The convenience of wearables, such as a jacket which vibrates on your left or right shoulder depending on the direction of your pre-entered destination, is a big draw for customers. But devices with less apparent functions can be confusing or merely pointless, he points out.
“One of the biggest challenges with the current crop of wearables, most specifically smart watches, is that they seem to be a solution looking for a problem to solve,” he said.
“Our surveys indicate that consumers are struggling to identify a clearly defined purpose for smart watches. Like a well featured Swiss Army knife, they are capable of lots of different things, but in many cases don’t do them very well.”
There is, of course, a world of difference between the act of becoming more intelligent, and that of feeling sharper. As for your gadgets making you feel more intelligent, Wood remains unconvinced.
“Health related wearables, such a fitness bands undoubtedly have the potential to change users’ behaviour positively. Being reminded you have been sitting at a desk inactive for an hour or two is a wake up call, while having a step goal can encourage you to take the stairs rather than the life or escalator.
“It is debatable whether donning a wearable will make you feel more intelligent, but there is no question that the Apple Watch is poised to become a must-have piece of ‘gadget bling’ among the technorati.”