July 24th, 2014 By Jack Morton
First off, this isn’t a rant on wearables, more a explanation on why I don’t have one.*
You’d think I would, as every meeting with a tech agency requires at least someone to be smugly wearing a Jawbone (in much the way I cradled the first iPhone in 2007). They are nearly ubiquitously male, slim, media-types. Oh hang on. That’s me, isn’t it?
You wouldn’t be wrong. As someone who’s been a Creative Technologist at a number of Digital agencies, you’d think I’d have been first in the wearables-line; only swapping my Nike Fuelband at the launch of the Jawbone, before dumping that for the latest FitBit or Garmin’s Vivofit, whilst salivating over the impending Razr Nabu (the API is already open to developers).
You know, maybe it’s sour grapes and I’m still smarting about not scrimping the cash together to fund Pebble on KickStarter…
But the truth is nothing out there does want I actually NEED. Yet.
When it comes to what are coined as day-to-day ‘Wearables’, personally, I don’t need to know how many steps I’ve walked or calories I’ve burned today (I’m already too active), and no I don’t need to be alerted to get up every 30 minutes – I have a calendar and smartphone both happy to do that.
Yes, the health & fitness aspect is very clever and there are a lot of algorithms extrapolating data to trying to make it useful. Yet, it would seem that for all my tech-savvy, somehow I’m not the target market but if I’m not who is?
At the moment most wearables seem marketed for ‘fitness’ – glorified pedometers. The only issue there is that if you’re tech-minded and care about health enough to spend $200+ on a bracelet then it stands to reason that you probably have other devices that already dwarf it.
Tell you what, combine real body data (heart rate, blood pressure) and that’s when you’ll pull me in. Throw in some Bluetooth and link my phone to it, and you have me. In my case, I regularly miss texts and calls while running or cycling, so ‘handsfree’ notifications/prompts are very useful.
Moving on, Samsung’s Gear Fit & Neo 2 (bit of luxury) comes closest to ticking my boxes, as it has HR (Pebble Steel hasn’t got it) and links to my phone and let’s it do the heavy lifting. However, Apple’s ‘iWatch’ is coming. Soon. Really, it is. Isn’t it? I wonder how many credit cards will remain in wallets, waiting for it’s arrival?
The truth is that it’s still early days, and there isn’t yet a do-it-all device. Perhaps there never will be, particularly where the overlap with sport is concerned. However, we needed the Nike Fuelband, and I applaud what they did for the market, they created something more than just a watch and where it came alive was how the data was handled in their online hub. In fact it’s true for all of the products, each one trying to out-do the other. Each one treating data points in a slightly different way, each one looking to link to my other devices, and how to make this relevant to our lives.
Who knows, at this rate of evolution, I may even buy one!
* I’m not a total Luddite, I do own some sports-specific tech:
1. Garmin 310XT ’a multi-sport, swim-proof GPS watch, ideal for triathletes and dedicated athletes.‘ It includes GPS, Heartrate monitor, pace, virtual partner, map and more data fields than I can ever use. Plus, I can add-on a speed & cadence sensor, or power meter for cycling.
2. Swimovate Poolmate – a specialist swim watch that counts strokes, laps and time.
3. Blood pressure cuff – HR and BP