Five reasons why wearables are still missing a trick #WearablesWeek

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Wearables have spiked in popularity recently, with what seems like every single company intending on entering the market with a smartwatch, a fitness tracker, or something similar. But are wearables the future? Not in my opinion just yet. It seems the tech giants and smaller start-ups all vying for the top wearables spot are still missing a trick and here are five reasons why.

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1. They still need other devices to function

The big thing is that wearables can’t function independently and require something else to reach their full potential. Often it’s a smartphone, but some of them require a computer. Even Samsung’s Gear S smartwatch, the first 3G enabled smartwatch, requires another Galaxy device to do much more than tell the time.

This doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon, and if it doesn’t then wearables will fail to match people’s expectations and will fall out of favour.

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2. Device functions are limited, and most of them are all the same

Think about the smartwatches you know about. How many of them have killer features that single them out from the rest? Apart from the Gear S with it’s limited 3G capabilities none of them actually do. Even what we know about the Apple Watch isn’t all that different from similar devices. The same goes for fitness trackers and even smartrings, which are relatively new even in terms of wearables, don’t offer anything that is beyond what is already available.

In fact the majority of unique wearables only really exist as concepts, or are so obscure that they won’t even be adopted in a widespread fashion.

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3. The design is still a little off

Wearables are still relatively new, and as a result nobody really knows what the best designed device would look like. Unlike, say, smartphones was the device that inspired everything that came before it, wearables have no such figurehead (more on that later). As a result it’s a bit all over the place design-wise. It’s a mad-rush to try and find what works and what the consumer wants before anyone else does. Square faces? Circular faces? Multiple bright colours? Plain metallic colours? and so on. If there isn’t much consistency then it’s probably not going to attract people.

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4. There still isn’t that one must-have wearable gadget

Wearables still aren’t particularly desirable to the masses, and if that’s the case¬†then nobody is going to go out and buy them in significant quantities. A lot of people expected the Apple Watch to change all that, but what Apple revealed wasn’t particularly special and isn’t much different from any other smartwatches that are currently available. The brand name might help to an extent, but its unclear by how much at this early stage.

The iPhone kicked off the smartphone age, and the tablet age was kicked off by the iPad. The wearables age has yet to really kick off, and if it doesn’t have a figurehead soon then it won’t happen at all. Heck, even Google Glass hasn’t got there yet. No doubt thanks to the hefty price-tag.

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5. They’ll never replace the smartwatch or the tablet

Even the Gear S wth its 3G capabilities is reliant on being paired with another smart device. In fact, any smartwatches worth a damn suffer from this very same limitation. The simple fact is that at the current level of technology we’re never going to be able to replicate a smartphone in something as small as a watch. And when you think about it like that, all that makes wearables are expensive accessories that don’t accomplish a great deal.

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Tom Pritchard