Jun 11, 2014 Which Wearables, When and Why?
More than 91 million smartwatches will be sold annually around the world by 2018, industry analysts project. Even should the predictions fall short, usage of these and other non-traditional mobile devices is poised to take off sharply. So this may be the time to assess how smartwatches and other wearables may fit into your mobile/Web strategy. Here is a scouting report of some devices that you may wish to keep an eye on and start to consider.
These could be an excellent choice if your users want data delivered minute by minute (literally), but need limited interaction with those data. Apps that deliver time-sensitive updates or reminders may be ideal for these devices—like a weather app that pushes an accurate forecast for your commute route, via geofencing or half an hour before you typically set out to work. Or a traffic app that tells you your best route home. Or a personal health/security app. Or, for our colleagues in IT, a sysadmin app that alerts you to traffic spikes (expected or otherwise), DDoS conditions, and other network troubles. Apps that push what’s going on, where it’s going on, that’s it – no charts over time or other extensions, just what you need to know to diagnose the problem.
When it comes to the question of which smartwatch to build for–so far no manufacturer dominates the space. Two players to keep a close eye on are Samsung and Pebble.
Samsung offers a set of smartwatches that run Tizen, Samsung’s Linux-based operating system. Their development kit requires pairing the wearable app with a smartphone app to enable use of all available features.
Pebble Smartwatch runs a proprietary operating system based on FreeRTOS. Like Samsung, it requires pairing with a smartphone. Pebble lacks Samsung’s touchscreen but its relatively simpler development process could make it an easy first foray into wearables.
From the perspective of being useful to a firm’s mobile strategy, generally speaking, smartbands’ time has not arrived. Few have released developer kits and consumer adoption is a question. One player to keep on your radar is Razer. Their “Nabu” smartband is expected in the U.S. market soon and is being positioned as providing the functionality of a smartwatch and a fitness tracking device. It’s expected to integrate with Android and iOS devices through Bluetooth. Like smartwatches, smartbands will best support limited user interactions. It seems likely that smartphones will have a larger user base but smartbands may be ideal for delivering apps to certain niche targets.
Google deserves kudos for raising awareness for wearables with their much-marketed Google Glass product. But when it comes to planning your mobile strategy, the eyes don’t have it. Not yet, at least. Google Glass is expected to attract far fewer consumers than other wearables. But future, sleeker, more stylish releases from Google or their competitors could gain popularity and become a good distribution platform for apps, particularly in situations where consumers’ ability to use hand controls are limited.
Watch for deeper dives into smart uses of a variety of smart devices, wearable and otherwise.