Does wearable tech offer the placebo effect?

Fjord Family

The placebo effect is defined as ‘a usually pharmacologically inert preparation prescribed more for the mental relief of the patient than for its actual effect on a disorder’ something tending to soothe.

With what feels like every manufacturer of smart devices fighting it out in the wearable tech market, the battle for dominance has commenced and is fiercer than ever.

Mobile World Congress being a true testament to this, with the likes of Samsung taking the lead in the market space, with Garmin, Nike, TomTom, adidas and the rest of the gang snapping at their heels.

The problem for me with wearable tech, is that it is the ‘in thing’ more than anything else. For me as a tech and gadget lover I do have to confess I rather like this battle for the crown – simply because it gives me a reason to buy new things – all in the name of technology or so I keep telling myself.

But this race for supremacy also made me think about the value – the actual value of these wearables and the benefits it has on my life.

I bought my first real wearable tech back in 2006. At that time the term ‘wearable tech’ had yet to cross our lips. I got strange glances when I wore my Garmin GPS running watch out and about, largely because it was a similar size to a brick.

How many times have I eagerly looked down at my wearable of choice just to realise that the battery had died, or that I forgot to charge it, halfway during my 10k run. And don’t get me started on the unique charging cable they require which will cost you around £25 for each device to replace.

The ergonomics of today’s wearables also needs some consideration, the majority of them are not comfortable to wear throughout the day. Having a chunky bangle on your wrist when trying to type at a computer is not ideal. A wearable is yet to catch my eye due to its beauty.

But most importantly is the actual use and benefit we get from these devices. Once you get over all the pain of setting it up, manage to work the charging regime into your daily schedule, how much value do you get from this, or are these devices just a plain simple placebo for your health?

Technology and the service it offers should be natural, it should be simple, and it should be straightforward. It should inform you without being in your face, it should motivate you without you knowing that you are being motivated. It should be so refined that the information provided to you can actually be used. It should inform and actually influence your day in a seamless manner.

I do think I have found my own ultimate wearable technology. Well, not wearable per say, but yes, it is my preferred technology and I carry it. And that is my phone. It is the ultimate tech, which does all the things I get from my wearables.

It brings all the other devices I use together – my scale, my blood pressure monitor, and my heart rate monitor. It syncs my lights to the beat of my Sonos. I have it with me all the time. It informs me, it is there with a soft glance and with an abundance of information all relative to my current situation and me.

This is where the service design challenge comes in. We have the ability to change wearable tech, by bringing service design to the core of this challenge.

What I am looking for is wearable tech to influence my life in a constructive and effective way each day of my life.  I want it to become something that enriches my life.

The search continues for my dream wearable that will offer me more, but until then I’ll just keep trying (and buying) them all.

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Fjord Family

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