Technology only goes mainstream when the costs finally get low enough. You might think Apple rules in the smartphone and smartwatch space, but the truth is that there are way more Android devices sold all over the world because they are cheaper. Sometimes, they even work. (Many people tend to buy the cheaper Android phones.)
For the wearable industry, the one thing holding back the beast is cost. Would you pay $100 for something you wear during a run? Or that you can lose at the beach? Somehow, Misfit has priced its new Flash Link wearable (at right in picture above) at just $20, which is cheap enough for an impulse buy when you are wandering through Target looking for a vacuum cleaner or browsing for books on Amazon.
I like how the device syncs, too. When you use the new Misfit Link app, you can snap a photo or take a Snapchat (if you are into that sort of thing), control music playback, and — in a future update — control the Logitech Harmony remote for your TV and even trigger IFTTT functions, which is the holy grail of the connected home (e.g., triggering lights with a tap-tap and freaking people out when they don't see you have a wearable).
Misfit claims to have the lowest-priced wearable on the market, and it’s a long way from the hefty price of the Apple Watch, which I kind of hate. I’ve tested every Misfit on the market, and I’ll be requesting one of the new Misfit Link models to test. The iPhone app is already available; Android users have to wait a few weeks. It’s quite a killjoy for a few of the spendier gadget companies.
I believe low-cost tech is going to be huge. Instead of gold-accented smartphones and watches that sell for five figures, we will start seeing these devices as much more expendable. That’s already true with laptops. These days, I just grab whichever one is lying around and fire up the Chrome browser. I don’t care if it even has that much storage as long as the thing isn’t loaded down with crapware. More and more, I’m using a Chromebook Pixel because it has so little overhead.
For the past year, I’ve been wearing the original clip-on Fitbit. It’s become part of my wardrobe. One of the most important reasons I still use one is that I don’t pay attention to it at all. It’s barely there and no one notices. If I lost it tomorrow, I’d buy another one.
Wearables need to blend in. I want to see devices stitched into clothing more, attached to my shoe, and in my glasses, but I don’t want to pay an exorbitant fee for the privilege. Someday, every shirt you buy might include a small, low-cost sensor that tells you how many times you’ve washed it. Your shoes will track your run but won’t bother you to charge anything or even worry about whether you have the sensor inserted. (Here’s hoping someone figures out how to charge the sensor as you run using kinetic energy.)
When tech gets cheaper and blends into the background, more people use it and more people benefit from the innovations. At SxSW, I remember hearing about a wearable company that wants to find out how many people are walking in Central Park right now and then let other people know if it is a good time to join the fray. They said they could predict patterns. Maybe you could find out if a certain city is known for a healthy lifestyle. This kind of real-time tracking will only work once the prices come down and the tech blends in and doesn’t make you look stupid.
Counting down the days.
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