The Age Of Wearables

Are you as confused as I am? No, it’s not that I’m blonde… it’s that I’m faced with dozens of choices when it comes to wearable technology. Funny thing is, I go back and forth on whether this is something I need.

Like really need.

Yea, I’m laughing at myself too. Many generations of mine seemed to excel in both health and success without an Apple Watch, yet I am actually creating compassion charts for various wearables to solve what I perceive as real and actual needs.

Let’s say someone asked me what I’d want in a wearable… this is my list:

  • Be able to speak at said wearable and have it take notes and make lists for me (OMG, my grocery shopping would be a once a week event if I could remember everything I needed to pick up)
  • Log the typical stuff like activity, time doing nothing
  • Monitor sleep. Deep sleep and REM would be the most important data for me.
  • Monitor my heart rate (constant), learn trends, then vibrate on my wrist when stressful events take place and spiked my heart rate . This would allow me to focus on reducing said stress, managing responses, managing health.
  • Find my phone
  • Find my car
  • Find my husband (within the house mind you… when he leaves he never forgets to let me know, but if he’s putting around the house…)
  • Silent reminders/alerts (waking up, stop being lazy, shopping list reminders when I enter Publix, etc)
  • Pedestrian navigation. Rome is a big place on foot, and so many little streets. I won’t even start on walking around Venice!
  • Super comfortable to wear daily and while sleeping
  • It’s got to jump into the ocean with me and live through a swim to shore
  • Looks good… like a high-end watch. Can change straps
  • Can last a while without attaching it to some power source. Ideally uses solar power, but I’d go for a regular watch battery, or rechargeable that lasts a week between charges and can be replaced every few years
  • It’s got to update from a software perspective

So, for the engineers among us… this is the list:

  • Microphone
  • Speaker
  • Heart rate monitor (I don’t have an opinion on which type)
  • GPS (assisted and GLONASS)
  • Accelerometer, Altimeter,
  • Wifi
  • Bluetooth 4
  • NFC (did I forget to mention I love Apple Pay?)
  • Barometer
  • Data (international LTE)
  • Waterproof to 10 meters
  • Sleep strap and dress straps, round face (and a small model for us women)
  • I’ve already mentioned power options… but if we must charge, make it a universal type of charging, no propriety plug only found on your device
  • Awesome software with open APIs

Really, is this too much to ask for? The thought of tech companies doing user experience events is not new. Manufacturing has done this for decades. Requirements gathering is a key component to market alignment.

Yet this is where it gets tricky…

My list is not new, or unknown. Most consumers want it all. Apple, Google, Samsung all know this. But they take lists like these and align them with cost, marketability, growth potential (multiple generations), and release parameters. This is why my perfect wearable isn’t out there. One day it will be… but that’s well into the hundreds (thousands?) of dollars I’ll spend before I see it.

Does your company do this? Or, do they get this big list and plug away at all the requirements… find defects and defer the fix… then go to market with half of what they wanted without a real cost/benefit analysis of what they delivered versus what the market was willing to pay for? About 90% of the companies I’ve worked or consulted for error in this way. It costs them, yet they haven’t changed. Change is difficult for most, nearly impossible for some… but change is necessary for growth.

Next time you’re in a meeting where you’re discussing requirements, ask the business unit whether they know the “Five Whys” for each requirement. Explain that they should be able to answer “why” to each of the requirements five times. It ensure they understand the needs, risks and marketability of a requirement. Although they probably understand “Prioritization” have them put a cost to each Priority One item. Then ask… “what if it costs more than that?”

Before anything comes to an IT Product group the associated business unit should already have the market information around cost to market, target cost of item/feature, competition and budget as it aligns to the yearly corporate/company goals and objectives. Ideally. Sometimes this information is lost in translation. Like my wearable, your requirements gathering and prioritization won’t be perfect… but guide them closer to perfection. Elicit the market value of each requirement, discuss release benefits and customer loyalty.

If you’re a small business this is every more important. Extra time in planning will reduce both cost and risk.

Did I mention my wearable also has to tell time? Yep… another requirement 🙂


And, in case you want my current opinion… these are today’s front runners (in no particular order):

  • Apple Watch
    • Pros- good looking, great phone integration, NFC
    • Cons- less than a day of power, no GPS or wifi yet as (or more) expensive as models with these
  • Misfit Shine
    • Pros- really small and many ways to wear it, battery operated so months of power
    • Cons- no heart rate, no auto sleep detection (yet), only activity and sleep monitoring
  • Basis Peak
    • Pros- better looking, automatic sleep detection
    • Cons- hard to find, no NFC, HUGE
  • Fitbit Charge HR
    • Pros- heart rate monitor under $200, huge infrastructure with other items (like scale), smallish, 7 days worth of power
    • Cons- can’t swim with it, ugly

And then there’s security and data… but that’s for another post.

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