Rethinking Wearable Computing

By Bob O’Donnell

At some point, wearable computing devices or solutions or whatever form they end up taking will be part of our lives. In this article, the author discusses how the next evolution beyond smartphones is into a highly personalised, but much less visible form of personal computing.


Bring up the topic of wearables these days, and you’re likely to see rolled eyes, shrugged shoulders, and a general sense of “whatever”. The problem, of course, is that wearables were badly overhyped and haven’t even come close to living up to the expectations that many companies, analysts, and industry observers had for the category.

Sales in many of the most closely watched sub-categories, notably smartwatches, have not been anywhere near the level that would make them “the next big thing”. Sure, you could argue a few companies have done OK, but the short attention span of the tech industry has clearly been diverted to newer, sexier devices, like voice-controlled speakers, or AR and VR headsets.

Despite these issues, it may be that we’ve given up on wearables a bit too soon. The problem is that we’re thinking much too narrowly about what the concept, and implementation, of wearable computing really is. To be clear, I don’t see a big future for the individual products that we currently count as wearables, but I think the idea of several linked components that work together as a wearable computing system could have legs.

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About the Author

Bob O’Donnell is the President and Chief Analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a market research firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech.


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