The checkup started really well. Blood pressure was right on track, blood oxygen was apparently great and my heart rate was, as usual, as slow as an athlete’s. There was just one problem: I'm not much of an athlete. Not that I'm unhealthy: I windsurf when the weather is warm and windy, and get out on a bicycle every now and then. Heck, I've even been known to break into a gentle run on special occasions. But I'm not deluded enough to think I'm in top shape.
HTC has taken its first bold step into the wearables space, with the launch of the HTC Grip. The activity tracker is the first product to come out of the partnership HTC announced with Under Armour at CES in January. And importantly, the product looks like an Under Armour product thanks to its color scheme, and works directly with UA’s Record app, rather than having its own proprietary app.
Once I year, I escape the real world and head down to a small Caribbean island called Bonaire. It’s a kind of an “off-the-grid” type of vacation where coffee shops claim to offer Wi-Fi, but happily don’t deliver on their promise… and no one notices. Do not go to Bonaire if you want to get some work done. In other words, it is paradise for a week or so.
A strange thing happened to me today: I received the latest and greatest in wearables in the mail and, after opening the box and rifling through the various bits and pieces, I realized that I was not going to use the product at all. That’s pretty unusual for me: I’m typically right up there at the front of the line, willing to try anything; at least for a short while, but not this product.
For the second year in a row, wearable technology was a major theme at CES. However, anyone expecting a new wearable product that was significantly different from the current mainstream, or new killer use case, came away disappointed.
This holiday season will be the first major test for the smartwatch category. One year ago the category was immature, with only a small handful of devices in market; the majority of which were not from known brands (the exception being Samsung’s initial Gear watch). Awareness of the category was also fairly low, with only 36 percent of the U.S. market showing any awareness whatsoever.
As I sat with the rest of the world watching Apple's annual Fall product announcement, I could sense in those I connected with on Twitter a feeling of excitement as Tim Cook finished the first part of the program and led into his "one more thing". Apple certainly did not disappoint. If NPD Connected Intelligence's Eddie Hold asked Apple to amaze him and I've asked companies to push the smartwatch beyond what we've seen thus far, then we both got our wish. The Apple Watch fits what a smartwatch should be- a nicely designed fashion accessory and a piece of technology (that does more than relay phone notifications to your wrist).
I’m a believer in wearable tech. I love these devices (and wear them), but very few manage to deliver anything close to my hopes and dreams. The smartwatch segment in particular has dashed my hopes every time. The products still do not wow me. Why? Because the smartwatch doesn’t add any real value: it doesn’t do anything that my smartphone doesn’t already handle with ease. Rather, it’s just another gadget (and a rather bulky one at that) that I need to remember to charge at night.
Wearable fitness devices have come a long way in the past year, moving from being a simple step counter to a device that helps to track calories, heart-rate, and more. But the next “step” forward will be far more exciting - taking these devices from a singular experience to one that pulls in more data from all around us.
I fear I may be obsessed with my wearable device, or more accurately, by the data that it generates about my daily activity.