If you went to CES or sat on the snow-covered sidelines (like me), you know that wearable tech is on the rise. Personally, I find the entry into the field fascinating and have recently acquired a Fitbit. It was a Valentine's gift from my husband; it’s the new jewelry!
This past Tuesday Google unveiled plans to help develop the watches and other wearable computers based on its Android mobile operating system, which already runs more than three out of four smartphones sold worldwide, according to Reuter's online article. 9to5Mac.com claims Apple will not be outdone; it will attempt to reinvent the market with the new iOS application named Healthbook. Apple’s even hired Jay Blahnick, “a world-renowned fitness expert and motivational speaker,” to work on future fitness-related products. With these two whales in the water, we’re sure to see more than the tip of the iceberg in this newfound sea of tech.
After living with the Fitbit for a month, I’m already over it. It gave me valuable information but has lost my interest. I was most intrigued to see how well I slept but also interested to see how many steps I took during the day. After a month, I know these answers. What makes me need this technology any further? This, my friend, is where wearable tech will live or die.
Another annoyance of the Fitbit was the inability to register some of my “fittest” activities like yoga or skiing. Knowing this on the ski hill with my kids this last Sunday I was literately taking ‘steps’ on my skis to try to account for some of my hard work. (Are you picturing this right now? Welcome to my crazy world.)
The common thread between wearables and custom AV is the search for betterment. Both technologies are trying to improve lifestyle. The Fitbit and many of its counterparts want you to know that a healthier you is a better you. The more steps you take, the better you sleep, the closer you become to being a better you.
A better you is also a less stressed you. Turning on your favorite music at the end of the day should relax you. Escaping into your favorite movie or TV show is taking a “time-out” from life, and in turn, chilling you out. Looking at it from this point of view, wearables and our industry are not so far apart. Isn't that why someone wants the biggest, sharpest TV set? The goal is to transport oneself into another world, and in turn, feel better.
How can wearables be improved and become more embeded into our daily lives for good?
More Connection: After a month with the Fitbit I know how many steps I take on average and that I don’t sleep enough. Why isn’t the Fitbit contacting me to tell me ways I can get more shut eye? Tell me how important it is to sleep with factoids. Tweet me. Facebook me. Keep me engaged.
More Info: Find a way to connect my heartbeat (your device is already on my wrist for goodness sake). Then you can better capture other activities (besides walking) that are part of my world and how they’re benefiting me. If my heart rate is often high, suggest a meditative playlist and then offer it for purchase (residuals, baby! If silly games can do it, so can their counterparts).
(I’m guessing this is exactly what we’ll see with Google and Apple’s upcoming devices, and hopefully more.)
More Connection to the Rest of Our World: Someday wearable tech will talk to the rest of our systems (this is where CI comes in). Imagine your TV turning off after ‘too much use’ since your wearable tech knows you hardly moved today. Maybe we’ll end up with health insurance reimbursements for active people—you’ll be able to prove it. Imagine a world where doctors could prescribe “movement” instead of pills! According to a recent blog by Dominic Basulto in the Washington Post the connection to wearables, our smart phone, and the rest of our digital world may not be so far off in the distant future. “Just as 80 percent of smartphones now run Android, Google surely hopes that 80 percent of all wearable tech will run Andriod as well…” Basulto said. “It would also theoretically make it possible to interact with your Google car or your Google robot.”
Amazing or creepy? Either way, we’re only at the beginning of this race, and it is lining up to be a good one.
Betterment. This is the foundation that can launch, sell, and make technology become part of our everyday world. By bringing music to every room of the home or driving us to live a better life, both custom integrators and wearable tech are born to fulfill this need. Lose sight of that and the true success will be lost.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.