WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY SHOW 2016: There is “still a long way to go” for the wearables industry to deliver products that are indispensable for users, Wallace Wu, VP of software products and IoT for Misfit, cautioned.
The executive said that as yet, wearables have yet to achieve the level of utility which would see an owner returning home if it was forgotten – unlike the mobile phone, keys or wallet. “If you take it off before your shower and then leave for work, would you come back? Do I care how many steps I would lose that day? Probably not.”
“It doesn’t help you pay for your meals, it doesn’t help you stay connected, it doesn’t help you get in to buildings you need to,” he continued.
Wu said that when Misfit was established, the market was looking at “wearables 1.0” – “collecting data, in niche markets such as medical and healthcare or among a professional audience”. This has since shifted to “wearables 2.0”, which is “more consumer related, and is more relevant to everyday use cases”.
Misfit, he said, entered the market looking at how to address underserved areas such as female users or those who are not tech-savvy. He cited Apple as a benchmark, with its iPhone.
“iPhone really reinvented the use case. It didn’t do anything new, but it changed how people use their phones, and understand how the product works. We kind of followed that philosophy at Misfit, and tried to do a similar thing with wearables.”
For example, in order to ensure its Shine tracker gets used, it designed a number of accessories to make it fashionable and flexible, as well as providing a long battery life. “We don’t want our product to be a burden on your everyday life,” he said.
And Wu also said that the industry should learn some lessons from the watch industry, in order to meet the demands of fashion-conscious wearables buyers. In the consumer electronics industry, the focus tends to be on selling high volumes of a small number of products, whereas in fashion, the trend is for smaller numbers of more products.
“In the watch industry, the reason you see so many watches is because inside, there are only a few companies that make the movements. But all of the watches look different because of the modularity,” he said.
“Everything you wear is truly personalised. And almost everything you wear should also be smart – but it shouldn’t look like a plastic or rubber object,” he said.