Samsung’s smart watch announcement this week will soon look like a small blip in the history of what can only be described as fashionable computing.
Mobile phone companies like LG, Nokia, Ericsson, and others, began the trend with stylishly designed mobile phones in the late 90s. Apple continued that trend with the release of the iPod, going on to sweeping the entire MP3 market. You can list a number of reasons that Apple was successful, including their record label agreements, cross-platform support (Windows), and more. However design was one of the greatest reasons for their success. It looked great and quickly became cool to be using an iPod.
Design drives sales. As we watch the wearable computing space become mainstream I can only expect this trend to continue with wearable computers becoming fashion statements.
Right now, a lot of the wearable computing that I see is not great. Google Glass, for example, is a very awkwardly designed product. The Samsung watch on the other hand looks great but requires you to have a phone in your pocket. However these products will quickly becoming the new canvases for digital product designers and developers, with the best designed ones attract the most attention.
From 3 Screens To Infinite Interactive Canvases
Whether it’s a watch, a ring, a necklace, a hat, sunglasses, or any other wearable item, there’s an opportunity for computers to be integrated. In 2009 we discussed the rise of “three screen” consumer behavior, in which we’ll simultaneously interact with our laptops, televisions, and phones (or now tablets). As this Nielsen report documented back then, consumers were spending “3.5 hours a month to using TV and the Internet simultaneously”. My guess is that number has gone up.
However the next step is toward infinite interactive canvases of all shapes and sizes. Wearable computing highlights this shift. As computing technology becomes smaller, more flexible, and durable, it will no longer be about how powerful the computer is (i.e. gigabytes of ram or storage) but instead how fashionable the design is.
In other words, the process of shopping for fashion accessories will soon become more about what computing tasks they can perform while remaining fashionable.