It’s easy to forget, but flash back 20 years, and the “Internet” was a truly peculiar, breakthrough technology that few people had any real grasp of. Even people as ahead of the curve as Katie Couric were genuinely perplexed by the functions and uses of the internet as seen in this (legitimately hilarious) clip: 1994: “Today”: What is the Internet, Anyway?
As easy as it is to chuckle at the NBC crew fumbling over the meaning of the Internet, we are actually in a similar situation now with wearable technology. What makes that clip so entertaining is that in 1994, the Internet was viewed as bizarre, in the same way that many people currently perceive walking around with Google Glass or smart watches like the Galaxy Gear or Pebble today.
Looking at CES this year demonstrates a major focus on wearables and the massive market that they are about to represent in the coming years. The range of products introduced was impressive. We saw everything from chic smartwatches, to remote heart monitors to full-blown augmented reality goggles. (The Consumer Electronics Show)
While tech companies can make as many wearables as they have funding for, adoption rates are what are really going to drive the success of this industry. Currently, there seems to be quite a backlash from the general public on wearable technology in general. Sonny Vu, the Founder of Misfit Wearables, suggests the slow adoption can be attributed to the fact that “wearables encroach on new territory in many ways that are unfamiliar with the tech world such as fashion and comfort.” This creates a new hurdle in the sense that wearable technology needs not only to be brilliantly functional, but also be something that users won’t be embarrassed to wear in public. CES 2014 Coverage
When looking at the bigger picture, I remain hopeful. I think we’ll see a lot of failures before we encounter a clear “must have” device, but the market is primed and ready to innovate. Add in all of the media buzz and the billions of dollars in new funding (think Glass Collective, etc…) and the wearable tech market looks to be on a promising path. Flash forward 20 years and I bet we’ll laugh at our slow adoption of wearable tech, just like Katie Couric and crew probably are today.