RMDPM Meetup Wrap-Up: A Discussion on Wearables

On Thursday, November 20, a few Digital Project Managers (DPMs) from the Boulder area got together to discuss wearables. Josh Zapin led a discussion on the history of wearables, what’s happening now in the field, and what could happen in the future. It was a fun and fascinating conversation. Though we all agreed that in our day-to-day jobs, we likely didn’t need to consider Android or Apple watches, we did have a great conversation about this new technology. Below are three main points that I took away from the discussion. If you’re wondering, yes I did tally my number of points using one of the first known “wearables”: the calculator watch.

What functionality are smart watches providing that isn’t covered by our phones?

I theorized that one reason smart watches may face tough adoption rates is because fundamentally, they don’t allow users to do anything they can’t do with their phones. When cell phones first came out, people could understand what they provided that land lines couldn’t — they allowed users to communicate with others no matter where they were. When the first iPhone came out, it was clear that it provided access to the internet in a way that other smartphones simply didn’t. Smart watches don’t seem to have that clear value-added distinction. As we talked further about this theory, we realized that smart watches actually may have a differentiating quality: their ability to measure vital signs.

Maybe, even if it’s not in the immediate future,  it could be possible that smart watches will eventually measure more than just a pulse. Maybe eventually these watches can look for signs of illness (through sweat, skin measurements, something else?) and act as an early detection device for any number of ailments. Should that happen, I’d say smart watches would have quite the differentiator from phones, and perhaps secure their place as must-have device.

Are smart watches all wearables have to offer?

The discussion of the possibilities when it comes to vital signs measurements led us to discussing some potentially odd next steps for wearables. Where do wearables go from here; is this the last we’ll hear of them? It seems unlikely wearables will end with watches, and if our favorite sci-movies have taught us anything, the the next step (or at least a future step) may be devices that are implanted into our bodies. Although that could have some really cool implications, it also creeps me out a bit, so I’m going to move on.

There may be smart things fatigue.

We also discussed another potential reason for limited initial adoption of smart watches and other wearables — technology fatigue. Especially after Google Glass came out, there seemed to be a lot of discussion across social media about how technology is limiting human interactions. The next generation is growing up with a relationship to technology that no generation has had before them. So what does that mean for verbal communication? Though I am not sure how smart watches fit in with that, the movement to scale back interaction with devices seems more prevalent than ever, and that may negatively impact the volume of people that want their watch to do more than tell time.

I left the conversation realizing devices like Google Glass and Smart Watches likely have a way to go before they are relevant in the day-to-day life of a DPM. Still, having the opportunity to simply talk with fellow DPMs is the main reason I love the RMDPM Meetup. The conversation is often topical, typically humorous, and always intelligent. If you are a DPM in the Rocky Mountain area, I encourage you to join us for our next meetup!

 

Becky manages digital projects from our Boulder, CO, office for clients such as Duke University, Volunteers of America, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Shure.

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