What designers need to make wearable tech exciting again

I’m going to leave out the medical industry in this story, as there are undoubtedly many pieces of hardware that provide amazing benefits to people. I’m going to get geek instead.

Our smartphones all contain sensors that are ready and waiting for the software wave to crash down on us with new and giddying opportunities. Wearable tech is just the first part of the next stage in the personalized data-technology exchange.

What are we all still waiting for? Makers seem to be distracted into making more hardware  for an already-saturated health and fitness market. Forbes precisely pointed out the situation:

“Although the specification numbers will continue to climb, smartphone hardware is mostly settled in the minds of consumers, software will be the driving force.”

The article goes on to make another succinct point – that the presentation of the data is crucial to its usefulness and appeal. Data is useless if it cannot be presented comprehensibly and beautifully. The data is also much more interesting to people if the collection of data can be specified in highly targeted or novel ways.

Sensors are what make wearable tech exciting

What makes the wearable tech market so exciting is not just the (better) fitness monitoring that can be done. It’s the unimaginable possibilities that can come with tailoring that data into something that you particularly want – one that you get to arrange rather than sign up for a pre-existing set of rules.

This infographic about the internet of things shows how we can simply create connections with the things around us that already exist via sensors and software rather than create even more items to duplicate the job.

An example here is the Netatmo bracelet. The bracelet (designed with women in mind, it seems) claims to be able to warn you when you are over-exposed to the sun, and suggests which sunscreen to use, plus recommends a hat or sunglasses (and uses an iPhone to present the data).

Alternatively, you can get an app for sun care and save yourself $99. But it’s still a beautiful product with an admirable goal.

These MFi sunglasses with beacons are also an example of the possibilities of sensors plus smartphones combined.