Smartphones are finally at the end of the S-curve – both the technology and the dominant designs have reached their very limits. Now, major Medium and Large scale companies are eager to step in the world of Wearables. This adds an entirely new level of data and learning that help our devices interpret users’ behaviors, preferences, moods, and outlooks. It will be possible to offer deeply personal and insightful suggestions, and to help users understand themselves in previously inconceivable ways.
We are in a competitive game to own the body, with specific regions being fought over like battle zones – the wrists, the face, and so on. It is easy to enter the wearables space, since anyone can produce a poorly-conceived and badly-designed smart something. The focus at the moment is SmartWatch: the easiest wearable device to imagine, but also the most difficult to get right. It is the most obvious from a real estate perspective as well as in terms of product footprint, but SmartWatches also push the limits of design, usability and manufacturing – minimal yield rates for handling the surface treatments on the metal injection molded chassis are elusive, the curved screen is a major challenge, and then of course there is the battery and charging problem. Even Apple, with all of its resources and talent, is having difficulty meeting its own standards for such a product.
The success of future wearable products depends on moving toward symbiotic design, where relationships between humans and objects evolve to become more like relationships between humans and other life forms. Some wearables will soon behave like sentient beings and will be able to harmonize with their users and become part of our everyday lifestyle. Many will not even require our conscious attention at all, making sense of all man-made activity and natural forces. Instead of being just another device we must control and program, our wearable technology will become a vital extension of our senses, making it possible to live and be in the world in a manner to which we will quickly become accustomed. We will become uncomfortable without our devices, feeling insecure or unprepared when they are not with us.