Where wearables wear thin

From smart watches that let you access emails and events on the fly, to wristbands that provide health insights, wearable devices have taken the market by storm. According to a Business Insider Intelligence report, the global wearables market will grow at a compound annual rate of 35 per cent over the next five years, with 148 million units shipped annually in 2019. But despite this huge surge in popularity, wearable technology is still a work in progress and prone to flaws. Here are three areas in which wearables are wearing thin when it comes to user experience.

High expectations, low battery

Wearable devices are convenient alternatives to carrying your iPad or smartphone, thanks to their ability to let you send messages, get directions, or record video on the go. But despite this winning functionality, Business Insider found that shooting video and GPS tracking on some devices drained their batteries almost instantly. And while the much-touted Apple Watch currently boasts 18 hours of battery life, a March 2016 report from TechRadar found that you could deplete its battery within three hours when used for phone calls. So performance remains a real concern for the wearable’s next iteration.

Privacy issues

By their very nature, wearable devices are used for real time activities and often respond to the user’s context and location 24x7 – as a result their associated apps are repositories for high volumes of personal data ranging from your reading habits to your daily routine, even noting stress triggers. With personalisation the goal of customer-centric digital businesses, your device is gathering an around-the-clock stream of data that companies could potentially sell to advertisers and partner suppliers.

The dawn of wearable technology has created a need for new regulation that informs users of the vulnerability of their devices and provides clarity on how their data is being used and shared. While regulators iron out these details, personal data proliferates, and privacy remains a serious concern.

Syncing issues

The sheer newness of wearable devices means they’re still susceptible to syncing issues and technical glitches. Many wearables still require manual syncing processes that can eat into users’ time, introduce data blackouts, and worse, lose data entirely. As the application of wearable technology permeates beyond consumer realms into the workplace and health and safety, improved sync and data sharing capabilities are needed to enable better integration and enhance the user experience.

Back to the top of this page