Someday, your children or grandchildren may ask you what it was like before clothing had intelligence.
According to a soon to be released survey from Citrix, the tipping point between dumb and smart clothes — aka wearable tech — is just around the corner.
Wakefield Research surveyed 1,000 American adults and found an impressive 91 percent were “excited” about wearable tech. In particular, 30 percent are geared up for watches, 22 percent for clothing and 19 percent for glasses. And 60 percent believe wearables will be as common as smartphones within four years.
Millennials Versus Boomers
A fair percentage of the respondents, about a third, are ready to put their wallets where their opinions are and purchase wearable tech within 13 months. But at the same time, 70 percent have concerns about the technology because of security, user data privacy, automatic data collection, regulation of data collected and health concerns, including worries that the tech products could emit radiation or interact with pacemakers.
The survey did not make clear how many of the respondents gung-ho for wearables overlap with the 70 percent expressing reservations.
As might be expected, Millennials are much more eager than, say, Baby Boomers to have wired wear. About 46 percent of Millennials expect to buy wearables in an average of 10 months, compared to 26 percent of Boomers, who will wait an average of 20 months. And nearly 40 percent of Millennials want wearable technology to be obvious rather than hidden, compared to 20 percent of Boomers.
Overall, though, 73 percent of respondents want non-conspicuous wearables to blend into regular wear, while only 27 percent want it to stand out. One assumes that the 73 percent are not prepared to wear Google Glass outside their houses.
The BYOW Trend
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, told CMSWire.com the wearables that will find greatest popularity beyond the earlier adopters will likely be those with the “easiest-to-understand use case.” He pointed to Nike’s FuelBand activity tracking wrist band as an example of a device whose utility is fairly apparent. By contrast, he asked, what is the everyday use case for, say, Google Glass?
Although we may find ourselves in six years writing about the Bring-Your-Own-Wearables (BYOW) trend in businesses, at the moment most (60 percent) of the respondents in the Citrix survey expect that wearables will be used primarily for fun, not productive uses.
But this short survey, not yet released to the public, seems to be missing a key point about wearables — they’re not just sensors, a chip and transceiver buried in something you wear. They are a platform for a potential array of new services.
One inkling of that is the recent purchase of online fitness community MapMyFitness by Under Armour, a manufacturer of sports clothing, athletic shoes and accessories. The 11 mobile apps that MapMyFitness has created to track calories or other metrics from the performance of specific daily chores or athletic activities are now going to be available from Under Armour’s cotton athletic clothing, as well as in shoes and other clothing from competitors.
In short, the real story of wearables may not be that they are wearable tech, but that they are wearable services.