Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Divorcing Personal Tech From Fashion —'Wearables' Need To Be 'Invisibles'

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 7, 2015

2015 01 07 13 13 04

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is featuring a lot of "wearables" reports Techcrunch (above) (which all seem to be smart watches).

Foremski's Take: All the fuss over Apple Watch will certainly help sell a lot of watches - regular and smart. I recently started wearing a normal watch.

I like the watch, not because I can look at the time but I like the way it looks. And that's a decision based on personal style. I might decide in a few months to stop wearing it. A decision that has nothing to do with the performance of the watch.

And that's why "wearables" need to become separated from the whims of personal style and fashion and disappear into the fabric of our lives. If our personal technologies become invisible no longer become objects of fashion — they can last longer than a season, and manufacturers can worry about the tech and not about becoming unfashionable. 

Personal tech is personal

Personal technologies should become personal — which means it is private to me what I choose to use or don't. Invisible personal technologies are private by their very nature nature.

Also, if our personal technologies become invisible they longer create the same social problems with others, such as those encountered by Google Glass wearers.

But personal tech "invisibles" won't come from a company such as Apple. Apple is very much a fashion brand, it makes its products distinctive and very visible. Its purchase of the Beats headphone brand underlines its fashion focus and it is how it can charge a premium. Becoming invisible would be impossible for Apple.

Invisible personal technologies will likely come from companies such as Google, which is interested in selling web services and not in selling hardware.

The future will be full of embedded technologies: all around us, invisible, and on us, and inside us. There will still be visible tech but it will be a tiny fraction of the tech that won't be seen.

The future of reality is a blended reality combining our technology tools with the natural world — screen-free and unobscured.

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My tongue-in-cheek proposal for a new type of invisible wearable is an "unmentionable." The absorbent but shock-proof underwear has several regions that silently buzz notifications from your smart phone. You'll know if you have a message from your boss or your lover depending on if it's your back side or front side that buzzes.  

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Please see:

Here is Marc Cantor on the Apple Watch.

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