Sri Peruvemba on Wearables

Sri Peruvemba commented this week on market trends in wearable computing.

As me and everybody else have observed, the current market is dominated by “smart watches” which are generally less than fashionable. He confirms that many high end design firms are (finally) coming into the market, so there should be some much prettier “smart watches” coming soon, as well as other “smart” jewelry and clothing.

One interesting prediction is new “smart” products embedded in clothing

“We expect to see sensors and actuators integrated that can provide a sort of “body GPS,” telling you both where you are and if someone else is getting too close to your personal space – kind of like the forward collision warning sensor in your new car.  In addition, nanotechnology is being utilized in the clothing to provide superinsulation, with sensors noting your condition (cold, hot, dehydrated, etc.) and connectivity that can send out an SOS if you fall or are injured if you are hiking in the wilderness or by yourself at home.

This sounds interesting, though much will depend on the details. Just exactly how would you use this “collision warning” feature? Can it tell friend from foe (from waiter)?  What kinds of things will it “protect” and “rescue” us from? Will this tech be used by parents to monitor teenage dates?  (“Computer, please replay exactly who touched who, and where.”) Inquiring minds want to know!

It was a little confusing that Peruvemba considers VR and AR to be another “wearable” technology (that will be growing rapidly). These are wearable, but they aren’t the kind of “invisible” computing (a la Mark Weiser) that many think of when we use the word “wearable”.

Finally, in addition to making things fashionable, he notes that all these technologies depend on small, low power displays that need technical development. (He is writing in the Society for Information Display’s blog, after all.)

I would add that these displays are not just small and low powered, they are “subtle” and “intimate” and require a lot of design research to make them effective and enjoyable. This is a technology that we really have to love or we’ll never be able to put up with it.

  1. Peruvemba, Sri, Wearables: What’s Really Catching on with Consumers?, in SID Dispatch. 2016.

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