With the advent of futuristic wearable products such as Google Glass and Apple’s rumored “iWatch”, many are left wondering: what’s next? I’m putting my money on fitness and health.. But will these wellness devices have staying power, or are they merely a passing trend? Only time will tell as we move further into wearable technology’s potential.
As it currently stands, fitness/wellness wearables are simply a trend. In order to maintain staying power, these products can’t simply be “cool” or “trendy” – consumers need to feel they simply cannot function without said product. For example, many millennials would feel crippled without their smartphone by their side, whether they are using it or not. As a Millennial myself, life pre-smartphone is incomprehensible, and in my opinion what fitness wearable companies need is for their products to provide this kind of “can’t-imagine-life-without-it” feeling. I don’t think the products are there yet, nor is the consumer viewpoint. Some argue that sales of these devices are up, and therefore the market is rife with opportunity. But even though sales are on the rise, it’s the formation of a habit and need for these devices that these companies are lacking. As it stands, these devices are a novelty: a great gift, but not a daily essential. People are intrigued – and now it is time to reel them in with a practical and useful, rather than just interesting, product.
It’s not useful, for example, to have access to these metrics without knowing how to interpret them. Sleep monitoring applications can show how often you tossed and turned, but to what end? What should we do with that information? In my opinion, there is such a thing as being inundated with too much information. What you know can hurt you. The value lies in companies coupling data-heavy devices with information on what that data means to them.
Some think that when information from multiple can be consolidated into one device, they will become more mainstream. I would take that one step further. Instead of just having a dashboard with all of the different metrics in a row, it will be the consolidation of these metrics that will bring these devices to the place they want to be. These devices are not habit forming yet, probably because rather than providing actionable information they are just overwhelming the consumer with useless data. This is something we at Kelton work against every day. Kelton’s storytelling philosophy helps to bring big data to life – and until these wearable health devices can tell a story, they will not be habit forming.
Apple’s HealthKit is poised to do exactly that. By consolidating all of the information collected by different devices in a user-friendly format and making it possible to share that information in relevant ways, Health is universally moving the “health-tech” market forward. The more intriguing application of Health is the “sharing” feature. Health makes it possible for you to share relevant information with your doctor, but it also makes it possible for all of the fitness and biometric applications to work together to provide more actionable data. Your “calorie counter” can tell your “step counter” how many calories you consumed, in order to consolidate information on “calories burned.” Where before there were a lot of figures, there is now one metric that the general population can understand and make inferences from. That, to me, is the future of these devices.