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."
For more on the latest innovations in wearables, see Tech's Fashionable Tipping Point, Digitsole: Smart Insoles, Wearable Emits Electric Shocks and SXSWi 2014: Wearables & Fashion.