Wearable technology has been finding its way from major companies – as well as start-ups – to customers and has been met with what can only be described as mixed reactions.
Many times the offering is a let down after the initial hype, while other times the product demonstrates genuine potential. It is for the creators, as well as the consumers of these wearable devices, an exciting time. This umbrella of technology that can still be considered as being in its infancy may potentially disrupt current dominating trends such as the almighty smartphone market.
The expectations of finding a real game changer have been met by the criticism of many, who still struggle to find the device that may prove practical rather than a mere novel gadget.
Of course wearable technology devices such as Google Glass and smartwatches aren’t new to this year. However, the overwhelming production of options and ideas from companies has seen an increased focus surrounding events such as the SXSW Interactive Festival.
This Festival hailed the wearable tech as “the new social”. However, there lies a question. How can social media really be affected by the new wearable technology?
One of the devices that consumers and experts find hard to argue against the usefulness of are the new sport and fitness watches. While the tech offers practical functions like allowing users to measure how fast they’ve run and their heart rate, a niche social aspect has developed in the last few years. Distances, paths and other metrics of user’s runs can now be shared and compared.
This is just one example of how a wearable device has allowed users to be connected in ways that, although possible with previous phones, has only now with modern sport watches become a more practical and ultimately popular social sharing aspect.
Fitness gadgets, however, are not everyone’s cup of tea and the social aspect in these devices may only see so much growth, with the sharing of activity potentially becoming prosaic with time.
An Immediate Connection
Another aspect that may change in social media is how accessible it will be for users. With smartphones, social media is already very accessible, however, with wearable technology this may change to a more immediate connection. With Google Glass this could mean seeing your notifications instantly and being able to take pictures with your glasses even faster than with your phone.
Social media platforms such as Snapchat and Vine have already seen considerable interest in development for wearable technologies, with apps such as last year’s Snapchat Micro developed for the Samsung Galaxy Gear.
Another aspect of wearables and specifically devices such as Google Glass that companies have shown an interest in is for the ability to communicate information about things and people instantly via the display. This interaction could potentially evolve into a new environment or social medium which may change how people (who are interested in this particular type of wearable device) view the world.
This view, however, can of course be let down by many arguments including the likely privacy issues, the inconvenience of wearing glasses, as well as the variance on how fashionable this device or any other may become. Not to mention that the technology itself will have to evolve.
Wearables aren’t limited to smartwatches and glasses. Another great example is the smartshirt. With social smartshirts like the tshirtOS, wearable technology and its effect on social media is already present. Although a niche object, smartshirts are the perfect extension for, to give an example, tweeting. The relation between phrases on t-shirts and the letter count limitations of a tweet work in the same manner and with smartshirts that include displays, these two concepts can now become one.
Other offerings include different types of clothing as well as smart jewellery, which in many cases minifies the already simplified concept of smartwatch usage applications and interaction.
At the moment the manufacture of wearable devices is showing several big developments with Google releasing a new version of their Android Wear operating system specifically for wearable devices. Companies such as Samsung, Motorola and Sony are not only producing new smartwatches but showcasing their own operating system alternatives, while an overwhelming amount of Kickstarter projects and start-ups are already producing popular devices such as the Pebble from Pebble Technology.
It is no doubt that with time social media will permeate further into these new technologies, the question is, how successful will these technologies be?
Over to you
What do you think? How do you think wearable tech will affect social media?