The Five Senses of Wearable Tech

Wearable technology is driving a new wave of innovative gadgets. These projects are the future of user interfacing. But along with opportunity there exists a multitude of challenges. Wearable tech is literally wearable technology. It is not portable technology. A simple distinction, yes, but many do not understand it. Some believe wearable tech is something you just throw on like a clothing to access Facebook, some believe it’s just another device that attaches to your bike helmet to document your way home. But wearable tech is more than that, it’s a step toward integrating human function into technological interfacing. Here are the five big things, we as humans, need from wearable tech in order for it to go mass market.

1/ It must hear

It’s crucial that the technology you use hears you. It must be able to listen to your needs and provide information on your command. Whether you control it through gestures, buttons, touchpad, or your movements with an accelerometer, it needs to listen to user input and understand it.

2/ It must see

Technology needs to meet the demand for an ever-increasing need for contextual response from humans. Any wearable tech today needs to be able to provide information based on context, but not always command. Imagine you are looking for a place to eat, and as you walk down the street looking into all the stores, your tech pops up ratings for all the restaurants nearby. Contextual responses are extremely important but still need to detect the user’s commands (via touch, gestures, movement etc). How will the machine differentiate between your commands and someone else’s? If the controls are movement base, will it detect and act differently if you are on a turbulent airplane?

3/ It can’t ‘stink’

When users furrow their brows and scrunch up their noses at the little kinks and big technical issues that every tech product faces, it is devalued to the user. But it is uniquely difficult to place and solve these problems with wearable tech. Wearable technology needs to solve all the functions that every portable computer faces: Is it durable? Will it have enough power to last longer than a day? Will sacrificing size create an issue with processing power?

4/ It must touch (well)

Interfacing must respond well. There was a problem with Xbox’s Kinect voice control system a while back. The user spoke commands to the Kinect and it would respond according. But when watching television, the voices could also command Kinect. Imagine watching a show or playing a game and your favorite character screams “No! Stop!” at the climax. Your device would pick up on that keyword and abruptly stop. Technology needs to be able to respond well to the ‘touch’ of the user, whether that is through voice or physical touch and be able to navigate through the system without hindrance. Human touch is fundamental to our physical and emotional development and when wearables can master the art of touch, it will become more integrated with our lives.

 /5 It must Taste!

Wearable technology at the heart of its concept is “Wearable”! It must be fashionable! It must be easy to wear publicly without social hindrance and, at the same time, must be subtle. At its core the technology must have its look, its branded appeal, and most importantly it must have personality.


the author

Jaraad Mootee

Jaraad is a technology analyst at Idea Couture.