Mobile / Responsive Design
Feb. 27, 2014

Wearable Tech: The New Mobile

What does wearable tech mean for mobile? 

Wearable technology has exploded in popularity over the last 12 months. Products such as the Pebble Smartwatch and Google Glass are becoming more commonplace and it seems everyone is living UP. These products push our 21st century technology addiction one step further by providing the means so that you never have to put your smart-device down. Many of the new wearable technology inventions will change the way users interact with companies via the web, bringing them closer (both literally and figuratively) than ever before. As designers and marketers, it’s essential to understand how to appropriately establish your presence in the new mobile space. 

google glassPotential Opportunity for Your Company

Smart bands, including watches and FitBits, already have a 350% growth rate prediction for 2014. Business Insider predicts similar trends for Google Glass, projecting a $10.5 billion annual market opportunity on the horizon. 

Benefits of Wearable Tech for Consumers

Undoubtedly, the advantages of the new mobile accessories on the marketplace are enticing consumer purchases. Marcus Weller, inventor of Skully Helmets notes that wearable technology, in all of its forms, is a tool like any other: serving the purpose of solving a problem.

Wearable devices are meant to enhance and simplify various consumer day-to-day activities. 

Pebble Smartwatches are introducing an appstore “with six app categories: Daily, Tools & Utilities, Notifications, Remotes, Fitness, and Games. This makes it easier than ever to find your next favorite app — whether you’re tracking your workout, managing your music, or controlling your thermostat”.

The best wearable technology should be as useful as a third arm, enhancing customers’ preexisting technology user experience.  

Foreseeable Challenges for Designers

If you thought that designing for rapidly changing smartphone screen sizes was difficult, two-inch smartwatch faces and Google Glass are sure to provide you with a challenge. As developers are trying to figure out just how many features they can incorporate into the tiny devices, interactive designers must begin to look at their current mobile sites and consider what their users will need on these new interfaces. 

While Internet access is not yet a direct feature of smartwatches, device-specific applications are already in the works for some products. Should a functional, wearable app be of benefit to your customers, ensure that you are designing it with optimization in mind. The same applies to Google Glass, however users can search the web with it – adding another design hurdle to the list.

Experts at Google are already cautioning companies to be mindful of their content pushes. Given that Glass is so close to user senses, it’s important to note that your content should be both relevant and timely. Sending notifications at inappropriate times is an especially disturbing experience for your audience, as the screen is within inches of their eyes at all times. Of course, knowing the best time to send your content is a difficulty in and of itself. Doing research to discover user behavior patterns and needs will provide some insight. 

The Future

Inevitably as this new market continues to evolve at such a rapid pace, developers and designers alike are going to have to start planning accordingly in order to avoid being left to play catch-up. Beginning to conduct research of how this new technology will affect your company, and what your customers will be expecting from you, will help to smooth the transition. 

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