There’s a battle for the wrist brewing with companies such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, and Nike all getting into the game with new products out or on the way, competing for this valuable piece of real estate on the body.
But the wrist isn’t new. Companies have tried and failed to bring technology to the wrist before with the Microsoft SPOT watch and Samsung’s SPH-WP10, which was a similar product. They never caught on because the human element was overlooked. These early ideas didn’t fit into people’s lives in a meaningful way. They were more about the technology leading the way without fully considering people’s needs. Similar to why the iPod was successful, these solutions need to consider the entire ecosystem of the product and how it can fit into people’s lives. Other MP3 players existed before the iPod but they weren’t nearly as successful.
Why the wrist? People don’t need to wear watches anymore, and there are really only a few places on the body to wear devices and Google Glass has already taken the face. Ergonomically, the wrist is a very easy place see and interact with a device. There’s also an ingrained behavior and acceptance to wearing things on your wrist.
For the health-related devices, it’s also nice that the wrist is a location that’s easy to see. Being in a visible location such as the wrist, it’s almost like a string around your finger reminding you to work out that day – or to at least take the stairs instead of the elevator. It also communicates an important message to the people around you that you care about your health.
An opportunity and challenge for a universally accepted wearable device is that it needs to appeal to a wide variety of consumers. Watches and jewelry are fashion and status items so these wrist-worn technology solutions need to keep that in mind. It probably won’t be like your iPhone where you can customize and personalize it by adding a case or a skin.
This is a very young category that’s waiting for someone to introduce a wrist-worn solution that gets it right. In order to win, it will need to have the right balance of useful functionality, fashion focus, and an experiential ecosystem.