When wearable technologies first started coming out around the early 1970’s (i.e. digital watches with built-in computers–Pulsar NL C01, Microsoft’s UC-2000), most people could not relate to them, but now SmartWatches are quite the rage. Apple, Pebble, LG, Motorola, Tag Heuer, Fossil, Samsung and Sony all have SmartWatches. SmartWatches may not be revolutionary, but they are making us more productive by putting the functionality of our phones right on our wrists. They run applications just as our phones do, have touch screens and handle all sorts of digital media. By the end of 2020 analysts predict users moving from 14 million SmartWatches to more than 375 million.
Globalization is key across many firms now. In the firm I work for, The Carlyle Group, more than half the staff is traveling at any one time. Workers on the go, need easy access to the apps on their phones. And when carrying a phone is cumbersome, a SmartWatch can make life easier. SmartWatches have a range of capabilities, but most can:
•Allows users to be completely mobile, meaning the device is on your wrist and stays with you. You stay connected with the SmartWatch.
•Provide directions: Think of the ease of use that a user can just state to the SmartWatch their target address and the SmartWatch will provide the directions. When our busy travelers get notifications around late flights or trains it can come straight to their SmartWatch and no need to bring out a phone.
•Connect to your phone from afar: Using WiFi or a celluar network, users can leverage their phones for sending messages and accessing email without carrying a phone in their hands.
•Provide Voice Search: Users can be hands free and search for items.
•Keeps you up to date on news, weather, and other pertinent information
•Allow one to shop online
•Allow one to respond to messages
•Allows fitness to be tracked. This is great for the busy executive so they keep fitness in mind when working all day.
“SmartWatches may not be revolutionary, but they are making us more productive by putting the functionality of our phones right on our wrists”
•Battery life. Most battery lives are a few hours.
•Style: users look for more fashionable watches. The faces of SmartWatches have to be somewhat larger for the text to be read. This is a concern for users who leverage their watches for style also.
•SmartWatches are not really that smart; in most cases, you still need a SmartPhone to use with the SmartWatch. You need to do the initial pairing of the SmartWatch and SmartPhone. After pairing, some like the Samsung can stand alone but others like the AppleWatch have to have a phone nearby. As technology continues to move quickly to meet users need I think this will change and more and more SmartWatches will become stand alone, so users will not need SmartPhones nearby.
Will SmartWatches continue to penetrate the market? Yes,I think so. As long as we technologists can continue to fit what’s on a phone onto a device on the wrist allowing the global workforce to truly go “hands-free”. And if it becomes a fully stand-alone device, not needing a SmartPhone, more companies will begin to use the SmartWatch for their user base.
Throw in the corporate desire for improved time management and increased productivity, and the The SmartWatch will get even more traction.
Finally, think about wearables impacting human behavior. Already, wearables are collecting data to help improve our physical fitness. It’s only logical that SmartWatches will one day help us make decisions.
In a recent [name of publication] article, Daniel Hofelmann and Daniel Wagner speak about how wearables, like SmartWatches, could affect human behavior in the future. Hofelmann and Wagner, behavioral finance experts, examine how wearables could help investors rationalize their decision making, which could change our entire finance system.
Yes, this thinking is a bit pie in the sky, but if companies are already working on wearable products to change employee moods (companies like Thync, Inc.) why couldn’t instant access to information and analysis impact important financial decisions? I’m imagining a private equity investment professional, or a stock trader, and how the ability to wear a smart device could one day make the decision to buy or sell a little easier, a little quicker and hopefully even more profitable.
This is our future and at Carlyle we’re getting ready for it.