PBJS Technical Director Ryan Davidson rates his close encounters with wearable tech (Google Glass was everywhere, you guys) at SXSW 2014.
Text of SXSW 2014 Wearable Tech Review
Wearable Technology SXSW 2014 Ryan Davidson Technical Director @Discorax
The good, the bad, and the WTF!?
Youre Doing It Wrong
Google Glass Was everywhere!
What you actually look like using Google Glass in public. So, who can actually use this? Technicians Surgeons Anyone that could use access to alerts or information quickly On a scale of 1-10 Usability: 4 Coolness: 2 Practicality: 6 Novelty: 9 Overall: 5 # of Sightings: ~42 There were easily hundreds of these being worn around the streets of Austin.
Smart Watches While cool, these devices Appear to have limited Practical application beyond what a normal watch would do. The form factor is so small its difficult to read much more than your calendar or a tweet and interaction is very difficult. Also, you have to pair it with your phone so you still need your phone in your pocket to use the device. Samsung Galaxy GearPebble Watch I love snapping pictures when people think Im just checking what time it is. - H. Casteel On a scale of 1-10 Usability: 3 Coolness: 7 Practicality: 5 Novelty: 2 Overall: 4
Gaming Tech The wearable gaming tech had some bright spots. Resolution and latency are still an issue, but both are improving rapidly. Moff smart toyOculus Rift Usability: 7 Coolness: 8 Practicality: 4 Novelty: 7 Overall: 7 Epson Movario Glasses Usability: 8 Coolness: 7 Practicality: 6 Novelty: 6 Overall: 7 Usability: 10 Coolness: 8 Practicality: 8 Novelty: 9 Overall: 9
Wearable Health While not as easily spotted, there were plenty of people keeping track of the miles they walked between sessions on their fitbit, Nike Fuelband, and other health devices. FitbitSpree Fitness Headband Usability: 6 Coolness: 3 Practicality: 2 Novelty: 7 Overall: 5 Nike Fuelband Usability: 6 Coolness: 7 Practicality: 6 Novelty: 2 Overall: 5 Usability: 6 Coolness: 4 Practicality: 6 Novelty: 2 Overall: 4
Other Some of the best and brightest from SXSW 2014 included a motorcycle helmet with 360 views and HUD, a solar dress that can charge your phone, and a wifi body suite. B.B. Suit Wearable Wifi Skully Smart Motorcycle Helmet* Usability: 8 Coolness: 10 Practicality: 10 Novelty: 9 Overall: 9 Wearable Solar Usability: 8 Coolness: 8 Practicality: 8 Novelty: 8 Overall: 8 Usability: 4 Coolness: 2 Practicality: 4 Novelty: 7 Overall: 4 *Winner of the SXSW 2014 Wearable Tech Award
Key Takeaway: The current Wearable Tech is pretty much useless at the moment. Its almost always an attempt to replace something your smartphone already does. It makes it so you dont have to take it out of your pocket, that is the only advantage. That not enough to make it transformative. Its simply novel. However, there are opportunities to expand wearable tech and the data it produces to create smarter systems that provide us with information that we can use to drive behavioral changes. Thats when Wearable Tech will become transformative.