How can brands and manufacturers break down cultural perceptions of wearables? That was one of the key questions raised during a panel discussion last week in New York, hosted by global brand consultancy Interbrand, US digital agency Ready Set Rocket and New York-based event company Digital Dumbo.
- "Sitting here today [on a wearables panel] is like sitting on a cell phone panel 20 years ago and asking, 'No one else has one, so why do I need it?'" said Gareth Price, technical director of Ready Set Rocket. He stressed that wearables are still at the first stage of their product lifecycle: they will eventually settle into everyday use – just as the taboo around using mobile phones in restaurants has dissolved.
- For wearable devices to work subtly in everyday life, designers will need to take a more analogue approach to digital, said Robert Genovese, vice-president of integrated marketing at US clothing brand Kenneth Cole: "We have to go back a bit and think about what it means to wear something." They will also need to build a network of sensors that work with multiple devices of varying price points, rather than betting that one piece of hardware will win out, added Price.
- The more invisible wearables become, the more the focus will shift to their technological benefits, Price noted: "If you have something on your face, you feel people are whispering about you. But if it is invisible, people will look past the weirdness."