What has gone wrong with wearables?

I mean this is from today…the 19th September 2018…and the lead story is from December 2016!  And this was the 3rd in the list of responses to the Google search “the latest news in wearable tech”.  Thankfully most of the other items returned are actually alive and kickin’.

That said this is, sadly, indicative of the state that the Wearable Tech market finds itself in.  A lack of true innovation, a lot of me too products, funding issues, fraud and a major brand trying to turn heads to the dark side – you know who you are!!!

But it could have been so much better!

There’s been so much innovative thinking but so little delivery of stuff you’d actually find useful and really, really want.   The market has stalled, interest in it has fallen away and the moving finger has written and then moved on!

Here are just a few of the plethora of start-ups that promised the world, briefly burnt brightly and then bombed!

Amiigo – this was a combination of a wristband and a shoe clip.  It promised a lot but in practice wasn’t that robust.  Well they’re still alive and they’ve now morphed into Wavelet Health and whilst they offer “clinical” quality heart rate tracking it’s interesting to note that on their consumer site even they haven’t realised one key factor – “one device to control them all”!  OK  that’s a Lord of the Rings reference I know but take a look at this image from their site…

Can you spot their band on these runners? No you can’t and that’s because their band doesn’t tell you the time – in fact it doesn’t have any screen at all – you have to have a phone to view any data.

So it’s fine for the medical market where you’re looking at historical data (captured over time) but not the consumer market where it’s a need to know NOW basis.  Shame guys, I remember the data interpretation was really good!!

Actually the medical market is one area where wearables are seeing some traction.

Another of my favourites was the Kairos T-Band – here’s their indiegogo campaign.  Given that I already own a rather nice analog watch, and for a while was happy to wear the Microsoft Band 2 (terrible battery life but good functionality) this seemed an excellent way forward. But it never really took off – I mean the website is still there but you can’t buy the T-Band and the expected delivery date of Spring 2017 has been and gone.

In fact, for me, the Microsoft Band probably got closest to the ideal – but even then in addition to it’s woeful battery life it wasn’t water proof!!   Despite this and the fact that the app hasn’t been updated since 2017 the band is still visible on the Microsoft website.   There was talk of a 3rd version but sadly that never appeared and Microsoft lost interest in the sector.

..and what are we actually left with?  Well at the budget end you’ve the Chinese and Xaomi and Huawei in particular churning out extremely cheap and pretty well equipped devices – but their tiny screens still leave me hankering for the MS Band’s vibrant display or even an e-ink screen – I mean why has nobody gone down that route – with the impact of battery life it would deliver???

That’s a key issue – battery life.  My Huawei Band 2 Pro lasts for 21 days!!! The Samsung Gear Pro 2 which costs 3-4 times as much depending where you look – lasts “several” – only several?   Hmm not that impressive!!

With all this dillying and dallying the market is going to be filled by Apple’s Smartwatch – a beautiful piece of technology, but it’s made by Apple and that means you’re stuck with what they are prepared to deliver, which judging by the reviews is getting better but it’s still expensive for what it actually is….

So there’s still time and space for someone out there with the nous to deliver a tracker style band with long battery life, maybe an e-ink screen and all the health and fitness tracking functionality that you could shake a stick at.  All the pieces are there – it just needs someone to pull them together….anyone out there good at producing whizzy video’s?  Coz I’ve got the idea!

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