During the recent frisson of interest in this new technological medium, there has been a lot said about whether we, as a species, are ready for permanently attaching ourselves to something which may eventually take over many aspects of our day-to-day lives. The concept itself, as a feasible and practical application, is still in its infancy.
In reality, we are some way away from the point where these devices will be indispensable. Right now they are at best casual indulgences, nothing more than channels for feeding us pertinent information at appropriate times.
Because of this, the general feeling out there is still that these are fairly pointless objects which only geeks get excited about.
A recent survey conducted by Business Insider amongst their predominantly young, professional and male readership (probably the most on-trend demographic when it comes to this technology) found, rather surprisingly, that over half of those asked about smartwatches said that they just “didn’t see the point”. Price and value for money were also major issues, and finally there were those who either didn’t wear watches anyway, or who found them to be ugly.
These last couple of points were echoed by several people in the blogsphere recently when further rumours about the up-coming gold “Edition” of the Apple Watch came out. At some £9,000-a-pop, many people said that they would rather buy a traditional timepeice which, as well as being classier, would also hold its value over the years. And you cannot really argue with that.
However all is not lost for the future of smartwatches. In another (less serious survey), carried out by the guys at Gizmodo, they invited their readers to put forward ideas for what they could see smartwatches doing for them in the future. And here we did see that people were somewhat inspired by the idea. Many of the suggestions seemed quite realistic and surprisingly mundane, such as remotely locking a car, controlling a media centre, and even using it as a laser pointer in classrooms (interestingly some footage has surfaced of someone using a wrist device to blast party balloons by firing a laser beam). The means to do a lot of these things is actually in place right now. And the ambitions of some app developers out there go way beyond this.
But with the situation we have at hand, what we are seeing here is a disconnect between what people want, and what they are actually getting. This gap will narrow with improving design and technology. And there will come a point where these two factors will marry perfectly. And that will be when smartwatches will take off in earnest.
With suggestions that the wearables market could be worth up to $30 billion by 2020, as with the smartphone sector, it is looking like it will only be a matter of time before they are in common use.