Why I’m bearish about wearables as the next thing (for now).

gearBefore I talk about the impending wearables market in specific, let me start by offering one possible theory of technological evolution: everything technological eco-system eventually moves to the lowest possible energy state. I mean that both literally (energy consumption) and figuratively (mental effort, etc.). New innovations catch on, or don’t, because they can fill an existing understood need or displace an existing “gadget” in a manner that results a lower expenditure of energy. That could mean, it saves time, it’s cheaper to operate, it’s easier to carry, it replaces two or more things (a compound ‘cheaper” or “easier to carry”). Now, you may notice, I never said it serves its purpose “better.”  We have frequently seen less well-suited products displace “better” products simply on the basis of the aforementioned efficiencies. An example: traditional watches were displaced quite thoroughly by cell phones. Phones are far less good at being a timepiece than a watch. Watches are always “at hand.” With a modicum of practice, you can glance at a watch mid-conversation, take note of the time, and whomever you’re speaking with will be none the wiser. And as little effort as it takes to wear a watch and carry cell phone together, people abandoned watches in droves once they began carrying cell phones with time displays. And that magic cell phone has similarly replaced point-and-shoot cameras, GPS systems, car keys, televisions, radios, books, magazines and, in many cases, thanks to social networking apps, actual meaningful friendships. It’s not better than most dedicated tools for the same functions, but still, it’s just easier to “do it” with your cell phone. Somewhat ironically, these magical devices are not even great at being phones much of the time.

So, back to smart wearables…

I am supposed to buy and wear a second gadget (a wrist “watch” or glasses) to mirror/mimic functionality of my cell phone—but not replace, mind you, because it’s tethered to my phone for data and connectivity.  And since the display size is substantially diminished from that of your phone, it will do those mirrored tasks, worse than my phone, at increased energy costs—increased physical energy plus increased mental energy needed to manage the social awkwardness of something like Google Glass. From what I’ve seen from the market so far, I’ll pass.

I have no doubt there will be a continuing niche market for the FitBit’s of the world. But I certainly feel no need to quantify my “self.”

On a more personal note, I find I have a carry limit of four. Four things that is. Four things I NEED to remember when I leave the house. Wallet. Keys. Glasses. Cell phone. If I add a fifth, I’ll likely forget one of them at home. And there are no wearables that I know of worth leaving any of those at home. Someone asked me “Well why not replace your glasses with Google Glass? Then you’ll still be at four.” My answer to that is that “shame” makes five. Okay, Apple. Prove me wrong. Please. We need some new new things.