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Bill Bennett

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Wearable computers not ready yet

Wearable computers face an uphill battle.

Google may have sold a stack of Google Glass during its one day sale last week, but the day after saw Nike lay off its FuelBand division. It turns out that many people who bought fitness bands tossed them after only a few weeks. 

Smart watches struggle to find a market

Other wearable computer makers face problems.

Oh, the pain…

Pip Coburn explains why wearables are not taking off in The Change Function:

Users will change their habits when the pain of their current situation is greater than their perceived pain of adopting a possible solution

In the case of wearable computers, most people simply don’t face much current pain.

To date few wearable computers have proved they can deliver enough value to overcome the cost of using them. And when I say cost, I don’t just mean money. As some Google Glass owners have discovered there can be real pain.

Pointless gimmick?

There’s little a wearable computer can do that other devices  can’t be do equally well or better. Want notification of incoming phone calls? You could use a smart watch. Or you could just listen for a ringing phone.

And wearables have lousy displays. Smartphones spent the last four years evolving to larger displays for a good reason: they are easier to read. Want to know the weather forecast? You could squint at tiny, unreadable text and hard to decipher icons on a tiny unreadable smart watch display or you can reach into your pocket and read it easily on a smartphone screen.

Will Apple make wearables bearable?

For my money most wearables are also overpriced, gimmicky and have appalling battery life. While I admit on one level Google Glass is technically impressive, the device is socially unacceptable and marks the user as a ridiculous dork.

It won’t always be this way. Eventually someone, possibly Apple, will find a way to make the pain of using wearable computers lower than whatever pains we face from not using them. Then the category will take off.

Or maybe not.

The smartphone may not be wearable in the same sense as Google Glass or Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, but it fits neatly in a pocket. That’s almost wearable. And unquestonably useful.

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