Jorg Schlieffers, Founder and Managing Director, Thinkable Studio Ltd provided us with his thoughts on where the market is headed and the challenges and opportunities that are in store for the industry.
How do you see the wearable computing market evolving in the next 3 to 5 years?
We are at the beginning of a new technology wave of even more ubiquitous communication. Manufacturers are looking to expand their markets from communication between individuals to individuals communicating with the 'smart' objects that surround them.
As a designer, I am constantly looking to exploit technological breakthroughs. As bandwidth is not an issue any more, I am hoping to be able to design communication devices will allow us to be free from current constraints of 'hard plastics' to soft wearable computing. Products that were peviously non-wearable will become wearable, as they will have become equipped with (virtually free) SIM cards.
In the immediate future, I guess Dick Tracy-style smart watches will be leading the way as a must-have tech wearable accessory soon. That will trigger an interesting wave from both major hardware manufacturers and the acessorization/software creative market.
Can you share with us a little how and why Motorola enter the market of wearable task computing?
Motorola saw an opportunity when teaming up with a manufacturer of micro displays, Kopin Corp. Traditional enterprise high-tech products communicate via large displays and up until recently designers and engineers had been confined by 'packaging' around these technology constraints. When micro display screen resolutions started rivalling the image quality of traditional displays, the thought leaders were starting to envision how these new pieces of the puzzle together with communication technology can be put together for new application and user experiences. The benefits are obvious... why lug around a computer screen when you can wear it, free yourself from haptic constraints via voice input and motion control rather than point and click?
What are the main challenges and opportunities when it comes to user adoption?
Adoption in the enterprise arena is usually slower than in the personal consumer space market. In the enterprise arena, there are eco-systems in place which took customers a long time to create, streamline and debug, such as inventory management, as one example. When new wearable technology is brought to the market, it has the potential to significantly change that infrastructure, both in terms of labor and process management. The customers visionaries will evaluate the benefits and future savings. Then the new systems need to be designed, which take a long time to implement.
Additionally, internal sales teams have to be educated about the uses and benefits of wearable technology and have to be appropriately rewarded for pushing the new technology. Lastly the end user needs to accept the technology. This can only happen if all parties have done their homework...
The personal users market is fundamentally different. Adoption is very much a fast, marketing driven cycle. A need is 'created', technology has become very much fashion in consumer products. User adoption, can be a herd phenomenon, so let's just sit back and observe how wearable will change once Apple announces its i-watch. The wearable market will change dramatically.
Can you tell us what other products in this arena is your firm working on now? We are currently working on wearable devices in the consumer goods/sporting goods arena. More I cannot divulge.
What are you looking forward to hearing at the Smart Fabrics Conference in Barcelona this October?
I am looking forward to learning about exciting new applications and technological developments by the creative thought leaders in this field to make me think 'Eureka, I have an idea. How about...?!'