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Wearable Tech – Poised for Disruption

The wearable tech market is going through interesting times: recent research findings indicates that consumers ditch wearables within 6 months of purchasing them; while big tech companies continue to develop new wearable tech. Going beyond pedometers, fitness trackers, smartwatches, new wearable tech focuses on measuring and monitoring health through new tools, including, for instance, smart fabric.

Meanwhile consumers continue to show varied levels of interest in wearable tech, with the romance being sometimes shortlived. The reasons could be aplenty.

Limited evidence of weight loss

Recent research indicates that activity trackers do not contribute significantly to weight loss, but only to a very "moderate" increase in aerobic activity. Among obese individuals, research points that the use of activity trackers has not led to weight loss.

For instance, a recent research trial in Singapore lasted for a year, covering 800 employees across 13 organizations, with intent to measure the impact of activity trackers on delivering better health outcomes and weight loss.

When the participants were assessed at the end of the year, they did not show any heightened activity levels. Their activity levels remains at the same levels like before commencing the research project. In addition, the research project found that post-6 months, nearly half of the participants parted with their activity trackers.

Contextualizing the Use Case

Unless wearable tech moves beyond being a “consumer fad”, and defines unique use cases, the barrier to adoption will remain. When is a wearable tech device useful, and not a me-too product? Why is a stand-alone wearable device required, while the same functionality is available using a mobile app?

Beyond the fitness use case, wearable tech focused on elderly, and contributing to healthy ageing has not got much attention. This is a tech area that holds potential, and can contribute to continuous health monitoring through smart fabrics

Improving the Battery Life

Beyond defining and contextualizing the “use case”, the technological challenge for wearables stems from the poor or low battery life of devices. Many wearable devices sync onto the smartphone leading to faster battery consumption.

Changing the Behavioral Patterns

Where the wearable tech interface involves the consumer having to upload their health activity data onto a portal or downloading frequent product updates, it takes little time in consumer interest fizzling out.

Delivering on Aesthetics

Consumer interest in wearable tech will deliver when the aesthetic value goes beyond plastics, and focuses on style. Think Pebble!

Marketing is all wrong

The marketing for wearable tech harps on the technology, features and the brand, and less on benefits for the consumer. Wearable tech marketing should focus on educating consumers on product benefits.

So, where to from here?

The wearable tech domain is ripe for disruption. The first wave of wearable tech, and surfeit of me-too enterprises is long over. Many tech startups have either closed shop, or gone back to the drawing board.

What remains is a vast market that is ripe for a disruptor. For instance, India represents a large growing and hungry consumer pool that is amenable to new technologies. There is a immense opportunity to reach out to a wider audience with a solid technology proposition, and sound use case, such as, catering to elderly population or atheletes using machine learning.

As wearable tech enterprises move forward into the future, they should engage and actively listen to potential consumers. India is a good hotbed for testing new wearable tech.

At Hammerkopf, we enable ideas into realities. If your company or someone you know wishes to test the potential of their wearable tech in India through consumer research, do talk to us.


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