Wearable tech dominates the news, but not the sidewalks. While articles abound about things like smartwatches and Google Glass, few people in day-to-day life are seen sporting these supposedly trendy accessories. The quieter side of media, along with some pertinent numbers, seems to reflect that impression. Analysts are offering less-than-bountiful enthusiasm for Apple Watch demand, with one summarizing the public response thusly: “Store visits, Google search volume, third-party data, and recent supply checks all suggest demand for Apple Watch has fallen sharply from initial levels.” Google Glass was the biggest novelty around right up until it wasn’t, when market apathy combined with reviewers describing it as “the worst product of all time.”
There are many theories as to why wearable technology hasn’t taken off. From a vogue perspective, the two above examples face differing but related problems. Apple CEO Tim Cook himself said that younger demographics don’t wear watches of any kind, let alone expensive computerized versions: “If we had a room full of 10- to 20-year-olds, and we said ‘Everyone stand up that has a watch on,’ I’m not sure anyone would stand up.” Google Glass was stigmatized in the opposite direction, with few people wanting to be the only person in their group wearing a distinct facial accessory that had yet to catch on. Perhaps more damningly, such gadgets fail the tech litmus test as well, finding themselves unable to answer the question, “What problem does this solve that I couldn’t already address with my phone, tablet, or computer?”
And yet, as a concept, wearable tech keeps trying. Droid Life has reported on an FCC filing by Google that looks an awful lot like a second crack at Google Glass. Casio, Motorola, and others have announced new iterations of smartwatches. Japanese researchers have unveiled a new conductive ink that could create and maintain a circuit while stretching across fabric, suggesting the possibility of “smart clothes.” Whether or not any of these succeed will depend on if they can deliver on either the “wearable” or “tech” part of their genre.