Wearable technology: Over-hyped but showing real promise

Wearable technology is much talked about but little worn - at least right now. Expect it to be a standard element of your outfit in future.

While wearable computing in all its forms might be suffering from hype overload right now, in the long term it will overcome this to be a significant part of our environment.

According to Forrester principal analyst JP Gownder, wearable technology is set to become significant but not without qualifications. "If we're being honest, the wearables market is, in fact, suffering from a bit of a hype bubble," he said in a statement.

"The ratio of devices released to those purchased represents a large number. But consider that the internet itself suffered from a hype bubble circa 1999, and yet the internet turned out to be just as important as people had imagined." Forrester believes the same will happen with wearable technology.

But what fits best?


The big interest is in devices that you can attach to your clothing or your wrist. According to a survey commissioned by Forrester, when asked what sort of devices they would consider suitable for wearing 29 percent said they would like to be able to attach devices to their wrists and 28 percent said they would like devices incorporated in their watches.

After that, 18 percent were happy for such devices to be attached to their shoes, 15 percent to clothing and 12 percent were happy for devices that mimicked jewelry and the same for headphones. High-tech glasses was also the choice of 12 percent of those surveyed.

Forrester's Gownder is convinced that it is only a matter of time before wearable technology of many different types become commonplace. "Wearable devices — and the apps, software, and services that make those wearable [devices] truly valuable — will change the way workers do their jobs and how consumers manage their lives," he said.

The reality is that "something is lacking in the general purpose technology approach that we've employed for years, and thus the one-size-fits-all approach is getting snug", wrote Gownder in his report, The Enterprise Wearable Journey. By "snug" he means that while we may be comfortable with such an approach, that does not mean it is the best one for everybody.

"Consumers will embrace wearables, though the market remains at a nascent stage," he said.