As the WEARable became APPLEable and GOOGLEable, the (young) wearable tech segment, is about to become the Smartphone’s subsidiary market.
A new wearable “open source” approach, if taken by their competitors, should disrupt the wearable story. Just like the Smartphone did to Nokia…
In the current reality wearable tech devices need to connect with a smartphone or tablet, for most of their functionality. Many mobile users interested in wearable devices will gravitate toward Apple Watches and Android Wear-based devices.
However, new wearable insights, which will enable new set of solutions, might be adopted by tech giants. There are new opportunities which could change completely the wearable competitive landscape. That is, of course, if those “Sleeping Giants”, who did not take part at the smartphone “feast”, will wake up on time..
It is quite obvious that both, Apple and Google, consider the wearable tech as one of its major growth engines. Both companies would invest, as much as needed, to make sure the wearable devices will be generate for them at least the incomes smartphones did.
With Smart Watches being the essence of the wearable tech nowadays, Apple and Google’s operation systems (IOS & Android) will be the main smart watch enablers. Much like it was for the Smartphone. Both companies can only hope that the future will be as good as their Smartphones past.
This seems to be the case. Well, partly.
While Apple does not seem to look beyond Smart watches incomes from the wearable tech segment, Google is looking to expend itself to new wearable markets. With the Google glass initiative which was recently restarted, and their new approach to explore other wearable items. As such is the recent Google announcement of a joint venture with Levi’s, on what will be called “Smart Pants“.
Both Apple and Google do not seem to consider the Fitness & Health bands as competitors; mainly because of their appeal to niche audiences interested in health and exercise, and its need for Smartphone Apps, or websites, to gather and communicate its data. Moreover, neither of the companies is bothered by the use of Smart bands at amusements parks like Disney, mainly since the customers cannot use those bands, once their visit to the parks is over.
“Wearable Devices?! I Don’t see the point”
The main barrier for the wearable tech seems to be the Public apathy. The indifferent approach of the Crowd is the key wearable tech Challenge.
Most people consider wearable devices as a “nice to have” with no real value. According to a BI research most consumer (51%) answered that they “Don’t see the point” of the wearable device. Currently there is no “killer app” that can drive adoption.
The “couldn’t care less” challenge calls for a fresh way of thinking. A much wider scope than Apps, Smart watches, glasses or bands. Something that will create the wearable market boom!
Enabling the Wearable tech wisdom of the Crowd
The answer for the Wearable tech future is hidden in the crowd. Like in most of the cases, the wisdom of the crowd determines what will be the next trend. Enabling the Crowd to act is the answer rather than asking them questions about the next trend.
A Crowd which is “enabled” to provide solutions does so. In a very smart way.
I’ll give an example. The Smartphones was an “enabling platform”. It enabled the crowd to create apps in different topics, which were not predetermined. The ideas of the different apps, and the usage came by the crowd to the crowd. When the first I-phone was launched on 2007, no one could predicate the number of unicorn companies that will raise up, starting from an App (Snap chat, Waze, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.). Same should be the case for the Wearable tech.
Unlike the smartphone, the answers for the wearable usage will not necessarily come from App stores model. Be it for Smart watches, smart bands or smart Glasses. Companies, who want to rule the segment, should enable the very basic. We should enable the wearable tech itself as an “open source” – How?
Think about a reality where all clothing types, are made from a “connected fabric”. T-shirts, pants, skirts, coats, huts, bags, everything. Yes, EVERYTHING.
The dictionary determine that a “cloth” is “typically produced by weaving or knitting textile fibers”. Well, what if one of this “textile fibers” was an electronic “string like” fiber? Sounds like science fiction? Think again! Didn’t 3D printing seemed farfetched idea not so long ago?! In fact, some startups are already working on connected fabrics, but on a small scale.
If connected parts were integrated to printable materials, at its very basic process, as a standard, then the crowd would have had an enabled platform ready for its smart ideas to take us to the next connected era.
Companies who already create digital fabric printing machines, along with companies who are (or used to be) printing tech giants like HP, Kodak, Creo and others, could make a huge difference for the wearable tech (and IOT). It could enable a new generation of solution, where smart Watches, Smart Glasses and Bands will only be a part of the wearable tech, and not the whole story.
Apple and Google are not in the “printed materials” segment, thus will not be able to prevent or even encourage competition. They could only witness how the wearable tech segment creates its own rules, and not become only a subsidiary to the smartphones market.
It will be much like an “open source fabric” waiting to be discovered. Where will it take us? The Crowd is yet to decide.