The future of connected devices is going to follow the same path as other innovations before it: expect it to get worse before it gets better. After that, wearables will be as ubiquitous as smart phones.
We dove into the subject at the Society of Digital Agency’s “Meaningful Connections” session in April and learned why you should jump on the connected devices bandwagon.
Creating the next big thing.
Right now, the market of connected devices is defined by experimentation. There are connected toothbrushes that tell you if you’re brushing your teeth correctly, a slew of watches and wristbands that monitor your heart rate and steps, and endless other digital objects that are connected either to your phone or to each other. Some of these are genuinely creative, but don’t fit in well enough to be widely used. It’s reminiscent of the early days of smartphones. Companies eventually found what worked, but not before unleashing abominations like the Nokia N-Gage, a cell phone that played video games and took calls (but wasn’t any good at either), to the public.
We’re in that awkward stage again. A lot of these devices are either telling us things we already know or things we don’t really need to know. We have smart watches that give us notifications on our wrist instead of our phone. The last thing anyone needs is more notifications.
The challenge is compounded by the fact that most software companies aren’t also hardware companies, and connected devices require hardware.
What can you expect right now?
For a time in which a cell phone has already replaced the tradition of carrying a watch, wearables (especially smart watches) should not be considered a new shiny gadget to discover. Smart watches are at their best extensions of a phone instead of a replacement, and that’s ok. We don’t want expensive but less powerful devices trying to compete with the smartphones of today.
In the same way that we used to look at our watches to tell time, wearables work as a handy notification windows. They’re primarily for all of those who don’t want their hands and eyes locked on their cell phone screens all the time. Weather, incoming emails, texts messages, music controls and even Facebook posts (believe me, you don’t want to do that) are easily accessed on the smartwatch screen.
Is it worth it? It is, if you are still eager to carry a watch in your wrist. If you don’t, then the rest is not going to sell the experience for you. It is nice to look at your Runtastic data while jogging or dialing a number without taking your phone out of your pocket in a busy commute; but it’s not of much use while you’re at the office or at home and that extra reach isn’t a problem. Smart watches need to keep paving their way to serve not as complex gimmicks but as fashion statements, that capture data and are connected in an useful way to the rest of our digital selves.
Finding Untapped Potential.
The future of connected devices is in providing value while seamlessly integrating into everyday life. We’re seeing bits of promise in certain devices right now, and as tech companies, we’ve got to pick out the pieces that work and modifying them until we get it right.
Here’s what we do know: we’ll no longer be developing just for phones. We’re going to have to make everything adapt to lots of different screens on lots of different devices. The design will need to be simple and intuitive enough to support watches, glasses, and more. Most importantly, any obstacles that get between the user and the information they want must be kept to a minimum.
Do you own any wearable tech? If not, why not? Let us know!