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Wearable technology is being held back by negative perceptions, says Intel

Firms need to focus on 'what people want'
Tue Mar 18 2014, 11:35
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WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY won't succeed until we accommodate people's perceptions was the message from Intel futurist Steve Brown, who spoke at the Wearable Technology Show in London on Tuesday.

In his keynote address, Brown told delegates that up to now, the industry has concentrated on doing what is possible rather than what people want, or considering the connotations attached to it.

Citing the example of the Bluetooth Headset, which 15 years on continues to have negative connotations when it's seen on wearers, he questioned the value in devices that make the user be perceived in a certain way, because they don't convey the right message to outsiders.

"Be bold - don't let the engineers lead you," he told product designers. "Think about the whole package - the device has to fit in with what's important to people."

Brown explained that wearables are about "helping people be their best selves", and to achieve that, a device has to be personal to them and to give their life meaning, in the same way that wristwatches can form an emotional attachment and act as a signifier of status and personality.

He went on to explain, "Human beings have been putting things on their bodies for about 80,000 years - wearables aren't new - it's connected devices that are new."

Brown believes that at the current rate of acceleration, the lines between human and wearable will blur still further, and that soon chips just five nanometres wide will be possible. He said, "Any smaller and we'll be talking about atom manipulation."

Intel has been making a big push in the wearable space itself. At this year's CES, the firm outed its Edison chip destined for wearables, and showed off its debut smartwatch. More recently, Intel reportedly picked up wearables firm Basis for $100m, as it looks to push further into the wearable tech space.

The INQUIRER is running a debate this week on the Internet of Things, which is powering wearable tech development. We'd like to hear your views on whether the Internet of Things will kill off privacy, or whether user data collected by smart devices will be adequately protected. You can vote for or against here. µ


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