ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Wearable Technology: Is it right for you?

By Amanda Sachartoff

As technology advances, the shift toward wearable technology has become an increasingly popular topic. Many companies and individuals are creating new ideas for wearable technologies that can change our lives. Because these technologies are fairly new, most of the possible products are merely ideas or still in the prototype stage. However there are new fashion trends in wearable technology that are arising such as dresses that change color based off of your mood,  a ring that lets you fist bump your phone in order to transfer information, and shoes that clean the floor when you walk in them. Then there are the wearable technologies that are already on the market for consumers to buy, the most popular being Google Glass, which can instantaneously bring you the Internet in front of your eyes, and smart watches that function as a phone or heart rate monitor.

It seems the goal for most of the new wearable technologies is to either enhance our lives or make certain things easier and more convenient. With Google Glass the user is able to access information at the drop of a hat. In fact, a firefighter was able to use his Google Glass to save time when answering a distress call. If Google Glass can cut out wasted precious time by simply giving directions think of the possibilities if the device were specialized for certain professions? The same thing goes for shoes that clean as you walk. Products like these are designed to free up your schedule by making everyday tasks easier to accomplish. Some inventions, such as the mood-influenced dress can enhance human life. Wouldn’t you want to know whether your wife was angry or happy before you said anything to her?

 However, these technologies come with a price. Try putting yourself in the wife’s shoes. Maybe she doesn’t want the whole world to know about her personal thoughts and feelings. That seems to be the consensus of most Americans. In order for these products to be able to help, they have to constantly access and stream personal information thus compromising the user’s privacy. Not to mention, most of them aren’t readily available to the public. And those that are can be very pricy due to how new the technology is. New technology also means there are going to be bugs that need to be worked out and temperamental malfunctions. In fact Intel’s “director of creative innovation” recently tried to demonstrate the call function on his smartwatch on live television. As a result the watch did not perform as he planned. Another problem facing this emerging trend is suitability of the product. Most of the products are big and clunky. People like to look fashionable, and protruding glasses or hard plastic shoes might not be appealing.

So the question is: Is it worth it? Buying an expensive product that has a high risk of malfunctioning and probably isn’t aesthetically pleasing just so you can perform one or a few tasks a little easier might not be the way to go. For some people it seems these products do have the possibility to enhance people’s lives, but are they for everyday commercial user? At this point in their developmental stages, I would say no. There really isn’t a commercial market for these products just yet, which is why most of them are not readily available to the public. If they were, then Apple would be making their own version of Google Glass as well. Apple believes that the commercial market for expensive awkward glasses won’t be a viable one. A journalist writing an article on wearable technology admitted himself that he became tired of his new “wearables” in a matter of months, even days. He claimed that they were more a disturbance to him than they were actually helping. It seems wearable technology is more suited for professionals that need to use it for work. Maybe the commercial market for these products will grow when the bugs are worked out, the designs are refined, or the price drops.

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