Wearables are well on their way to following tablets as the next hot product category.
The Wearable Future, a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), indicates that 20 percent of U.S. adults already own a wearable device. PwC surveyed 1,100 consumers for the study, including 314 wearable technology users.
It's a figure that matches the adoption rate of tablets in 2012, and like tablets, the number is expected to quickly rise. But not without some challenges along the way.
Vendors will need to work on keeping buyers engaged, assuaging their fears and providing them with a solid reason to invest in more technology. A sizable numbers of respondents, 33 percent, that bought a wearable more than a year ago no longer use it or slap it on infrequently, PwC found.
Privacy is also a concern. A whopping 82 percent of those surveyed expressed worries that wearables would compromise their privacy. Another 86 percent were concerned that such devices could make them the victims of security breaches.
For some, smartphones already fit the bill. "Throughout our research, consumers repeatedly wanted to lump the smartphone into the wearable category—to them, we are already 'wearing' our phones everywhere," stated the report. "For wearable products to take off, they will need to carve out a distinct value proposition that a phone alone cannot deliver."
Regardless, the appetite for wearables is clearly present, which bodes well for Apple Watch. Fifty-three percent of millenials and 54 percent of early adopters said they were excited about what the future holds for wearable tech.
Wearables at Work
In the workplace, wearables are not only poised to help businesses increase efficiency, but also lower healthcare costs for their employees. "[Seventy percent] of consumers say they would wear employer-provided wearables streaming anonymous data to a pool in exchange for a break on their insurance premiums," stated the report.
If enterprises plan to leverage wearables and productivity-enhancing benefits, PwC warns that data consistency, particularly in the Big Data era, is a must. Technology vendors will also need to rethink how they deliver software and services to wearable device users.
"The practice known as 'human-centered design' is one that reshapes an entire enterprise and its capabilities system around the customer or user experience," said the report. "This practice is critical to the success of wearable devices—design thinking must be embedded in disruptive strategy and innovation, with a focus on optimizing the customer experience."
PwC's study noted that most wearables in the market come up short in this department.
Yet, when properly deployed, wearables can streamline workforce training and help businesses streamline their processes. Companies like Virgin Atlantic, Progressive Insurance and the Container Store are already employing wearable tech to improve the bottom line, revealed PwC.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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