With the emergence of Google Glass, and even Invoke’s own review of fitness-focused wearables, the idea of wearable technology is starting to reach a wider audience. Just the idea, though; up to 25% of people would feel too self-conscious to use something like Google Glass. So what needs to happen for these exciting new technologies to reach mass adoption?

People will embrace wearables if they can reap the benefits while minimizing the disruption of their existing behaviours. The fitness-focused wearables we reviewed work in part because they don’t interfere with exercise and their various companion apps integrate well with our phones and other technology we already own.

It’s also important that people let these products learn their behaviours. There needs to be an understanding that instant gratification is ultimately not that useful. Products that attempt to predict what you want right off the bat don’t always get it right, and when they get it wrong it leaves users confused and upset. It may not be a wearable technology, but surely we’ve all been on the wrong end of a text message where autocorrect auto failed.

How should these products learn from us though? Well, chances are a user doesn’t want to sit there inputting data themselves. What designers can do to work around this is leverage data that has already been collected. Alternatively, products can be designed in a way that makes it clear that there will be a payoff if the user just has a little patience. For example, I use Sleep Cycle, a sleep app that needs at least a week of tracking in order for it to provide a useful result.

The Phillips Design VIBE necklace

The prototype for VIBE, an emotion-sensing necklace from Phillips Design.

Designers must be cautious with how they try to implement wearable technology. People are not accepting of wearables in all scenarios. There have been attempts to introduce innovation into more personal settings. Phillips Design has experimented with dresses and necklaces that reflect your emotional state. The challenge here is making sure people still feel like they are interacting with a person and not just interfacing with yet another piece of technology.

So where do wearables belong? Perhaps it is in the realm of tourism and museums that wearables may next find a strong user base. Through the use of projection and augmented reality, works of art have the potential to “come to life” in new ways. Museums have employed emerging technologies to augment exhibits, such as when the Museum of Modern Art in New York implemented mobile technologies to engage audiences. Though many museums often end up with a somewhat sloppy implementation. An intelligent and well thought out solution could result in a wearable that is accepted and used on a mainstream level.

In what contexts do you think wearable technology can be effectively applied?

Feature photo courtesy of atlnav.