Director of Marketing & Media,
In order for wearables to
become mainstream, OEMs need
to determine a way to make them
invisibly ubiquitous while provid-
ing value and feedback that cannot be had from
Wearables generally take the form of wrist-worn
devices. This allows them to be a much better gauge
of the user’s activity and health/wellness levels versus smartphones, as a smartphone’s carry location
changes by the user (some users carry their smartphones in their pants pocket, others in a pocketbook,
and others are only carried when needed). This
provides wearables a unique ability to give real-time
bio-feedback that cannot be done with smartphones.
If a wearable could provide feedback like “your pulse
is suddenly elevated – are you OK?” or “you have
been sitting for some time – perhaps you should take
a walk?” consumers could perceive a value that can’t
be delivered by their smartphone.
However, no matter how valuable the feedback, unless a wearable is something that can be
invisibly ubiquitous (you don’t notice it, but it’s
always there), they may never become mainstream.
Consumers are accustomed to wrist watches lasting two years or more with a single battery. Today’s
wearable device may last less than a day with even
basic use – this is likely a huge barrier to mainstream acceptance. Furthermore, consumers will
continue to demand advanced features on each
successive generation of wearables, increasing
the power burden on already over-taxed batteries.
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heavier batteries, but would consumers be willing to sacrifice sleek
designs for something more bulky and costly, but with a week’s
worth of battery life? Most of us have a hard enough time remembering to charge our phones – and how many times have we been
caught with a dying battery on our phone, desperately searching
for a charger or wall socket? Consumers are not likely to accept
this from another device – especially if it offers no advantages over
Without a clear application differentiator from smartphones (for
instance, coaching), and without greatly improved battery life (per-
haps through alternative processing architectures), wearables may
never achieve widespread consumer adoption.
Rather than get overly technical, let’s address
this question by taking a cue from the likes of
Donna Karan and Giorgio Armani. In these classi-
cal wearables, it is the aesthetics, form, and function that help drive
them into the mainstream. Put another way, they must look great,
feel great, and provide a sense of value to the consumer.
To look great, one must be able to design a solution that the
mainstream will find appealing. The problem with today’s wearable
solutions is that it is typically the size of the battery that drives
the form factor, when what is actually needed is to have the aesthetics drive the solution. Unfortunately, this will not be possible
until we are able to dramatically reduce the size of (or even eliminate) the battery.
Similarly, to have a wearable feel great requires making it virtually invisible to the end user. Put another way, I want to wear shirts
that fit comfortably on my body – why would I want a wearable
that interferes with my comfort level? Unfortunately, making the
wearable invisible also requires the batteries to either be incredibly
small or not there at all.
Finally, to make a wearable valuable means providing users with
a range of information that they find interesting or necessary. To
do this requires not only the utilization of a larger array of sensors,
but also that the sensors are on all the time in order to provide
accurate and relevant information. Again, the requirement to keep
sensors always on – much less adding even greater varieties of sensors – drives up the power budget which only compounds the battery problem.
In summary, power consumption is the key to unlocking the
door. By solving this problem, it will be possible to truly unleash
the potential of wearables.