Apadmi’s Wearable Tech Study:

What do businesses need to know about wearable technology?

January 2015

Sections of the report

What is wearable technology?

Wearable technology is an umbrella term for a whole range of clothes and accessories that incorporate computer and advanced electronic elements. It’s designed to be worn by the user which, in theory at least, makes it much more convenient than traditional handheld technology such as smartphones, MP3 players, tablets and so on.

Devices come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but current examples include smart glasses (eg Google Glass), smartwatches (eg the Samsung Smartwatch), fitness trackers (eg Nike Fitbit), smart clothing (eg AIQ Smart Clothing e-textiles), smart wristbands (eg Puls), smart jewellery (eg Ringly) smart shoes (eg Ducere Technologies’ Lechal), gadget gloves (eg The Thimble Finger Glove) and virtual reality headsets (eg Oculus Rift).

This is a key period in the development of wearable technology. In late 2014, Apple unveiled plans to launch its first smartwatch at a spectacular press event in California – the Apple Watch will be available from early 2015. Meanwhile, it isn’t that long since the much-hyped Google Glass launched in the US (spring 2014) and the UK (summer 2014).

In January 2015, however, Google announced a whole host of changes – the Google Glass Explorer Program open beta was closing, the developers responsible were “graduating” from innovation lab Google[x] to form their own team within Google, and new versions of Google Glass would be released in the future (source).

Who is this report for?

We expect that this report will be particularly relevant to business leaders who are interested in understanding how wearable technology might fit in with their plans. Indeed, we’re seeing that companies of all sizes and backgrounds are already starting to develop apps for this dynamic new category.

We want to help the business community understand what the wearable technology industry is capable of, where it’s heading and what customers want. However, we hope that the report will have a much broader appeal than this, providing insights that will also be useful to the rest of the wearable technology supply chain, including device manufacturers, app developers and marketers.

After reading this report, it’s our hope that some companies will be inspired to launch their own wearable technology apps, as well as giving fresh impetus to others that have already travelled partway down this path.

Either way, our aim is to support the creative process in all of its forms and help to ensure that businesses don’t just build a wearable technology app for the sake of it, rather they build an app that is genuinely valued by its users. This will make wearable technology more appealing to consumers and, in the long-term, benefit everyone working in this exciting growth sector.

Understanding the wearables market

Apple and Google aren’t the only big names to invest heavily in wearable technology, with the likes of Samsung, Nike, Motorola and Sony all launching their own devices. However, many users quickly fall out of love with their new purchases.

Earlier this year, Endeavour Partners published research indicating that a third of consumers who have owned a piece of wearable technology stopped using it within half a year. It followed this up with a study suggesting that 40 per cent of people who own fitness trackers have stopped wearing them.

So what’s going wrong? An abandonment rate of up to 40 per cent is huge, and it’s clear that many device makers and businesses developing apps are failing to deliver products that satisfy a genuine need for users.

Apadmi’s wearable technology study

At Apadmi, we’re big fans of market research so we decided to start our investigations by surveying UK consumers to get a better insight into their psychology. Our aim was to answer the following questions:

  • Do potential customers think wearable technology is desirable?
  • Do potential customer think wearable technology poses a privacy risk?
  • How can different business sectors exploit wearable technology?
  • Which specific wearable technologies should businesses prioritise?

Apadmi surveyed 500 members of the public living across the UK in late 2014 via polling company Usurv. We round off the report by reviewing the key findings and considering what lessons can be drawn from them.

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