It is funny how things work. Just when you are beginning to think that wearables becoming mainstream is further off, not nearer, they get a boost from an unlikely source.
Prince Harry just made a fitness, sleep monitoring ring very cool.
The timing will probably not be very popular with research house CCS Insight, who just released a report saying that the market for wearables will slide in the next year or so, while the market for smartwatches will rise.
Overall, however, they predict that smart wearable device sales will double by 2022, becoming a $27 billion market with unit sales of 233 million.
It is hard, however, to overestimate the power of fashion or indeed the power of an endorsement from a role model. And role models don’t come much rolier than Prince Harry, creator of the Invictus Games and general Cool Royal.
In the smart watch arena, watch makers themselves have now climbed on board and Fossil, Skagen, Diesel and others are now producing fashionable watches.
It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Prince Harry has on the wearables market but it is already becoming acceptable and accepted that fitness devices are something that people really do wear without looking unfashionable and geeky.
The same thing might happen to glasses (remember us being incredibly rude about Google Glass 1.0 and assuming that people would be wandering around town blinking and clicking and generally bumping into things?) Yet now Google Glass is finding its niche in what, at the time, seemed unlikely verticals – such as healthcare and remote diagnosis.
Perhaps wearables will actually act as a catalyst for a bigger picture and bigger trend. The next wave of computers themselves.
We built computers in the same way that some car manufacturers built early cars – basically as mechanical carriages that looked as if the horse was missing from the front.
Now that our input mechanisms are moving beyond our fingers and our input range can extend as far as our imagination is able to take it (watch David Eagleman’s video from Friday Futures), then we might just be looking at the beginnings of ‘proper’ computers and not just very clever typewriters.
Whatever happens on that front, now that Harry has endorsed fitness monitoring wearables, a market of $27 billion in four years’ time looks conservative to say the least.