In the post Two future technology trends to embrace, Kachwanya talked of wearable tech and curved displays as technologies each one of us need to start being comfortable with. Both of these technologies have received largely negative vibes. There are some positive vibes about curved display especially the large OLED TVs but there is hardly any positive review of wearable techs especially the glass and the watch. Let’s look at the negative vibes on the two:
Google Glass has been under development at the Google’s Lab X, the Lab that is also working on Google’s self driving car, and surfaced to the public in mid 2012. In 2013, a number of tech reviews and commentaries on the Glass were available thanks to Google’s Glass Explorer Programme meant for developers and consumers to test Google Glass, and gauge how people will want to use it. Some of these reviews and commentaries include Crack.com’s 5 Reasons No One Will Use Google Glass, ZDNet.com’s The one big factor Google Glass is missing and the Business Insider’s The Verdict Is In: Nobody Likes Google Glass.
Business Insider says, “Glass is clearly not the present. It’s not even the near-future” and goes ahead to list a number of software and hardware issues including battery life, disorientation of Glass users, headache, inability to see the screen in bright light, inability to adjust settings, buggy voice control, dependency on smartphones to use Glass, and difficulty in responding to messages as top concerns that make Google Glass a product for far future.
Even though Business Insider acknowledged that some of these issues are easy to solve by simple upgrades, the post pointed out some social interactions Glass will likely distract. Some of these distractions include the Cracked.com’s five reasons no one will use Google Glass. Cracked.com wrote, “Google Glass is offering a whole new way to slam into a taxicab door while riding a moped” and that Glass is “the most advanced way to sound and act like a total ***hole”.
Then comes in Jeff Jarvis, a die hard fun of Google and Google products. His complains on Google Glass on his Twitter have been captured and described by Digital Trends. In summary, Jeff who has endorsed a number of Google Products including Galaxy Nexus and Chrome Book speaks of Glass as “a horrid waste of money” and an “expensive nightmare.” The article by Digital Trend attracted a number of comments one of which brought out the privacy issue;
Personally, I can see myself flat-out refusing to speak to someone wearing these. If for no other reason I hate pictures of myself — and the camera hates me ;-) Video? Even worse. To think that an entire interaction could be video recorded, with no visual indicator on the frames that that’s what’s happening, is nightmarish to me.
A new form of etiquette for tech blogs to write about, “what’s the proper way to ask someone to turn off their google glasses”…
Google Glass is still being tested mostly by techies and hopefully the Glass will be availed to the masses this year. We need to wait and see if indeed Google Glass is as useless as described by some.
Yesterday Digital Trend ran an article of the possible release of a Google Watch “within months”. The article says the Google Watch would solve two problems currently being experienced by smart watches 1. tiny screens and 2. tiny touch screens. The solution to the first is that Google Watch will have a flip top that will expand the screen and the second is that Google Watch will have touch pads at the wrist band.
But that’s not what caught my attention. Comments like ” I really don’t see the point of a smart watch” by Dylan Gilman and “these devices will never catch on” by David Fairbanks really got me thinking about the future of smart watches.
Although there have been a number of smart watches in the market including “the Pebble, the Cookoo, the Metawatch, the Martian” etc, the one that has caught remarkable media attention is the Samsung Galaxy Gear. The attention accorded to the Gear since its inception late last year and its progress thus far can be a useful indicator on the future prospect of the smart watch industry. This year we expect Apple to also join in the craze of smart watches by releasing an iWatch but before then, what can we learn from Samsung Galaxy Gear’s sales, complains and praises?
The New York Times on A Watch That Sinks Under Its Features speaks of Samsung Galaxy Gear as a watch that “won’t be adorning the wrists of the masses any time soon.” Reasons? NY Times say the Gear “requires the assistance of a compatible Samsung phone or tablet;” and that “without one, the watch is pretty much worthless.” Secondly, “The watch is huge, but it’s beautifully disguised to hide its hugeness.” I have only seen one on Larry Madowo and I must say the watch looks not only huge but ugly as the face elongates beyond the wrist. Thirdly, although NY Times writes that the Gear “looks and feels fine on your wrist”, TechRadar disagrees and speaks of the Gear as a watch that you’ll feel comfortable with over time.
Are the negative features of the Gear affected its performance in terms of sales? In November last year, Samsung told Reuters that it had sold over 800,000 units of the Gear in under two months, a figure that was later clarified by Samsung as units shipped to retailers. A statement that tries to come close to Galaxy Gear’s actual sales and customer satisfaction is the Wikipedia’s which reads, “The Galaxy Gear performed poorly in terms of commercial sales; in late October 2013, it was reported that at least 30% of the Galaxy Gear watches sold by the U.S.-based chain Best Buy were being returned by unsatisfied customers.”
And the last issue is the price of the Gear against its function. Galaxy Gear (as other wearable technologies) is basically a smartphone’s companion device that doesn’t deserve to be priced at $300, a price that accords one a variety of useful smartphones. It is rumored that Google Glass will be released at prices above $1000 yet it will likewise be a companion device that does nothing that a smartphone can’t do.
Wearable Technologies seem useless
So, why would anyone buy an expensive companion gadget? To run away from the trouble of removing the phone from a bag or a pocket?
Given that stand alone wearable techs have been tried and failed to go mainstream, and that it probably not possible, for now, to make cost-effective companion smart watches, bracelets, glasses etc, it is probably true that wearable techs meant to either replace smart phones or work as handy companions is a trend that will die sooner or later. However, I do think the year 2014 is the year for defining the future of wearable tech. “Let’s wait and see” is the comfort zone for now.