According to sales figures, Christmas 2016 did not see the fever pitch of demand for wearable technology that many had predicted, casting doubt over whether these products present solutions to genuine consumer needs.
So is it a watch? Is it a dietary aid? Or is wearable technology simply a passing fad?
Whether sat on the wrists of health enthusiasts who need to know their heart rate, or updating the dieter with information on how many steps they have taken today, wearables devices have certainly evolved rapidly over the last few years from techy gadgets to mainstream consumable items.
Wearable technology from head to toe
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. The early 1970’s first introduced us to the digital wristwatch, so we have long been used to seeing technology on the body. New devices have emerged that can literally be worn from head to toe – Google Glass and camera equipped Snapchat Spectacles for the head and GPR trackable shoes for your feet.
Focusing on the fitness market, Garmin sold over 6 million wearable devices last year, while in 2015 Fitbit, another mass player in the market, took revenues of £1.3 billion. Those are big numbers and they represent significant growth, but can these sports apps really last the distance?
The fact is that demand has not reached the levels that were forecast and doubts have even been cast as to whether such devices help you lose weight at all. Some have argued they actually demotivate people from living a healthy lifestyle. But you can be assured these manufacturers will not allow their technology to stand still – the fitness market is an important one and many consumers accept the need to lead a healthy life whether they find exercise a chore or a pleasure.
It is still early days for some of these products, so we can expect to see further improvements to applications and devices over the coming years. Ultimately what will decide the future of wearable technology will be whether or not it proves to deliver demonstrable benefits to our everyday lives over the longer term.