Anything You Can Do I Can Do (Differently): A Story of Wearables

The last couple months I have seen the media stumble over themselves to talk about the latest smart wearable released by a certain company based in Cupertino, CA. All the tech news outlets could talk about was the Apple Watch and how it was going to change we would use our phones (well, as long as it’s an iPhone anyway) and live our lives. What’s crazy about this is that Apple is far from the first to bring smartphone notifications to the wrist, but everyone’s acting like it is.  But I won’t lie; I’ve been sucked into the frenzy of the news and wanting to read up on the opinions and feedback on wearable technology.

From Pebble to Sony to Motorola to even some of the fitness band manufacturers like Garmin, the industry has been trying to solve the “problem” of not letting our phones become a constant distraction and allowing us to leave them in our pockets. On top of this, everyone has their own take on additional features like voice actions, step/calorie/heart rate tracking, etc. Design across the devices available also range from pretty nerdy to futuristically stylish to “hey it’s functional” to “I want people to think I’m a regular watch.”

Attempting to be an early adopter without going broke, I’ve had 3 different smartwatch devices in the last year and a half. One was based on Sony’s previous Smartwear platform, and the last two Android Wear (Moto 360, and now the Sony Smartwatch 3 mostly for its standalone GPS tracking abilities). What I can say for now based on my experience and usage: wearable tech isn’t for everyone yet. Maybe it will never will be. The greatest “in” to get people to have something else on them that isn’t their phone is some sort of fitness band and I’ve seen this permeate further than anything else. Everything else is a distraction and, at least in my circles, this is something my friends mostly want less of. I also need to remember to stay more focused in the moment than always look down at my buzzing wrist.

All this to say that I think we – and media – need to be very careful to not so blindly fall for every product or service certain companies provide and take them to be the most amazing thing ever made. Each offering brought to market is providing a different perspective and feature that probably makes sense to someone out there. And competition and diversity in ideas is good for all of us.

It’s been said often in tech circles in the last few years it’s not always about being first to market, but executing it the best. While that is true, just because a company claims that when they aren’t first (Apple), it’s not healthy to blindly follow along. It’s still a very subjective world out there; be sure to evaluate with your own mind and come to your own conclusions.