Wearables! 2014’s buzz word for technology is the term used for the watches, fitness trackers and other devices that are somehow attached to your body measuring, tracking and reporting your every move.
But are they worth it?
I’ve owned three of these devices in the last two years, a Pebble watch, a Jawbone Up, and a Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch. Each of them had their own pros and cons, but my initial response to the question is “yes.”
So what’s are the benefits of wearable technology, where is it going? Think about the often ridiculed Google Glass. How much more efficient would it be for an aircraft mechanic who is crawled up inside an aircraft engine to see a part that needs to be replaced, take a photo of the part and possibly part or serial number, send it to a runner on the ground or in a maintenance facility parts room, and have that part delivered back to the mechanic without even having to leave the plane?
Ok, that’s extreme, so let’s take it into the workplace. How many times do you look at your phone in a meeting? Wouldn’t it be easier to just glance at your watch when an email, text, phone call or calendar reminder was displayed?
And on to your personal life. Many are using technology to get into shape or to lose weight. Calorie and weight trackers have been around for years, but they always relied on you to guestimate the amount of calories burned during exercise. Now the wearables track the calories burned based on more than amount of time exercising and will automatically enter it into their tracking apps, many of which have calorie intake and weight components as well.
And, there’s always the cool factor. Wearables usually stimulate conversation in almost any circle. There’s still something foreign about them to most of the world, so when you have one in the wild everyone wants to see and touch it.
Finally, there’s the big data… or the creepy… element of it. Back on 8/25/14, articles started springing up showing how many people were jolted awake by the 6.0 earthquake in California. The NFL is implanting devices in shoulder pads to track player performance on a daily, even hours basis. So if one day you’re running your drills at one speed, and the next day the result is significantly different, you might have some questions to answer from your coaching staff.
So back to the original question. Are wearables worth all the fuss?
Here are the drawbacks, in my opinion. Battery life on most of these are horrible, but getting better. The Pebble was better than the Gear 2 in the smartwatch area. Most of that is due to the Gear 2 having a large color screen instead of the monochromatic Pebble screen. The camera and other features also caused some battery drain. There’s also the size and fit to be concerned about. Many smartwatches are quite large, so smaller-wristed people may have issues. I also had some comfort issues with the Jawbone, but talking to others who owned it, I was the exception (battery life on the Jawbone was awesome, by the way).
But the drawbacks are greatly exceeded by the benefits. I save a ton of battery on my phone in exchange for the smartwatch battery by not turning on my phone’s screen every time I get a notification. I used the Jawbone Up and the Gear 2 during a time when I dropped nearly 20 pounds, and tracked it the whole way through various apps. All three of these devices, and many smartphones, have sleep apps that track your sleep patterns and will wake you at an optimal time. The Gear 2 and Pebble also have apps to control almost any television, pedometers, media controls, golf GPS distance, games and a host of other useful and cool programs.
Wearables are going to be a hot item this year come the holiday season. We have only seen the beginning of how these devices can control our lives. Before you know it, your home lights and HVAC systems, our vehicles, locks, shopping and dining experiences, and other lifestyle events will have significant interaction with your mobile devices, accessories, and possibly even our clothing.
Wearables ARE worth all the fuss, and I, for one, welcome our battery sucking, wrist-installed overlords.
What are your thoughts on wearable devices? Send them to me @BeBizzy on Twitter!
Disclosure: As member of a pretty cool team of influencers, I received the Samsung Gear 2 and other devices with line of service from Verizon. No additional compensation was provided nor did I promise a positive review. All opinions are my own.