The interest in wearable technology continues to be very loud - but is it primarily manufactured interest from product developers and marketing folks eager to be the first to use
the new technologies in their efforts?
The most recent research and survey appears to answer with a yes, showing that there is still not a giant fervor surrounding these new wearable devices.
The research was managed by TNS Global
via their weekly US Omnibus survey of 1,000 adults, and shows the majority of consumers are not ready for wearable technology: seventy-five percent of surveyed consumers were aware of at least one wearable device, but only nine percent were actually interested in using them.
As Tom Buehrer, SVP at TNS, explains in the research, there is still a great mountain to climb as far as consumer interest:
“Wearable computing is still in its infancy. The main challenge lies in convincing people of its value and developing a device with mass appeal. The future of computing will be wearable, the question is, which kind of computers will people actually wear?”
Regarding the grand promise of the wearable tech revolution, Buehrer emphasizes the closeness of these next-gen devices:
“Imagine having information that literally is right in front of you that reminds you of important information that you should already know, like a colleague’s name or important anniversary dates. Imagine using your wrist to pay for lunch or to buy movie tickets? Wearables will transform our lives in numerous ways, which we are just starting to imagine.”
The survey did find that events such as Samsung's recent Galaxy Gear announcement increased the overall desire to learn more by six percentage points, and the interest in learning more about smartwatches up by 10% - not quite the enormous bump that the headlines suggest.
While it's nothing new that rabid tech journalists fuel the first-adopters, many proponents of wearable tech have pointed to the affordability of the technology when compared with other options.
And thus, given that particular promise by some, the $299 price tag of the Galaxy Gear likely has many taking a wait-and-see approach. The survey backs this conclusion with the following numbers: 55% of consumers think wearable technology is or will be too expensive and 24% don't want any more devices then they already have.
The market is poised to grow...or is it?Juniper Research has projected that the market for smartwatches is set to grow to 36 million units shipped by 2018 - a significant number by any measure, especially given the current skepticism. However, that's a 4-year window that will certainly see increased functionality combined with a more affordable price.
Another hurdle, according to the TNS research, is that the current crop of technology is not seen as comfortable.
The survey found that fifty-two percent of consumers prefer to wear a wrist-based device, followed by 24% choosing their arm as the preferred spot. And in a challenge to Google, this crop of respondents were not a fan - only 5% would want to wear a device on their eyes.
And what about privacy?
Nearly a third of consumers (31%) are genuinely concerned about privacy, and see that as a barrier to entry for using wearable technology devices. The fact that this number isn't higher points to the underlying observation fueling the release of these wearable technologies: modern consumers have quickly become accustomed to the loss of privacy inherent in the connected, shared experience of the Internet.
The globalized existence fueled by the rise of the travel industry will also impact the uptake of wearable devices. As they become more integrated into the everyday experience - and become useful tools for connected traveling via industry apps - the adoption curve will without a doubt be steeper.
Finally, to bring it back to marketing opportunities created by these new technologies, the continued vitality of the Google platform means that adoption of products like Google Glass could really boost the effectiveness of the Google ecosystem for travel marketers. A recent study showed that Google remains on top as far as importance to the marketing efforts:
Could we see the Facebook Eye coming sometime soon? It's possible, but the question remains: will customers care?