Making wearables wearable

Paul Cain, Strategy Director

June 22, 2015

Do you own a wearable? Is it a fitness bracelet? Or perhaps a smartwatch? I had one. I used it for a few weeks before it was left in the place where technology goes to die – the bottom of my sock drawer. It seems I am not alone.

Making wearable technology wearable‘Why’ you ask?

Currently, my smartphone tells me where I need to be and when, provides the internet at my fingertips, and if I ever had the time to play games, well they’d all be available on it too. Its functionality is unbeatable. And as much as I don’t like to admit it, losing it would be akin to losing a limb. As such, I am willing to live with its short battery life; charge it at least once a day, basically adapt my behaviour for my tech requirements. Charging a phone has become as much a habit as brushing my teeth.

The mobile phone has gone through some major design changes over the years – from big and bulky, to small, palm-of-the-hand sizes, and then back to large displays with incredible graphics and functionality.

The trouble is, wearables are still in the first stage of design – whether you look at it from a hardware or software point of view. Sustainable adoption will depend on users being influenced to change their long-term behaviour, whether it be through improved functionality, and/or ease of wearability, or a raft of other factors.

Flexible displays wrapped around the body or on clothing offer much higher levels of utility than the current available devices. You’ll easily get three times more display real estate on your wrist for example and that unlocks a completely new level of creative options for app developers as well as an unrivalled user experience.

Flexible electronics is the engineering development that will ensure thinner, lighter and low-cost wearables – an innovation capable of enticing that behavioral step-change which will propel wearables into the mainstream market.

As new wearable devices enter the market, features will continue to improve – better battery life, more sophisticated apps, ‘smarter’ devices etc. Most importantly however, devices will actually become wearable; the hardware won’t be so hard-to-wear – and this will be down to flexible electronics, the saviour of the sock drawer.

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