Wearable technology too expensive to be popular

  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 19 Nov 2014

TOO PRICEY: Wearables need to come down in price for them to get popular

If wearable technology devices like smartwatches and Google Glass are to go mainstream, they need to come down in price

So said Astro Teller, head of Google's Google X research lab, in an interview with CNET.

"Every time you drop the price [of a wearable] by a factor of two, you roughly get a 10 times pick up of the number of people who will seriously consider buying it," Teller said. 

He believes that most devices, including Google Glass, need to do this twice to become attractive. So instead of their current price of US$1,500 (RM5,037), the smartglasses would need to cost US$375 (RM1,260) to pique consumers' interest.

However, even slashing the price might not be sufficient. Two years ago when Google Glass was first unveiled it was positioned as the shape of a wearable, smartphone-free future. A single device that could do everything. And although the smart glasses did get a lot of people very excited, interest is waning.

Twitter has pulled its Glass app -- it decided it wasn't worth continuing with its development -- and a number of other companies are following suit. At the same time, other smart devices, from fitness trackers to smartwatches, are starting to hit the shelves and are competing for the same attention.

As a consequence, Google Glass is also being redefined. According to Teller, as the project has developed, it has become clear that Google Glass isn't an all-encompassing replacement for the smartphone. Like all wearable devices, it is going to serve a specific purpose.

"When we started Google Glass, we did not see as clearly as we do now that's really Glass' calling: to become smart eyewear," Teller said. "Rather than thinking of ourselves as a computer, and trying to give you computer-like functionality, it's better to start from the understanding that this is a pair of glasses, and say, 'How smart can we make these glasses for you?'"

The other question that Google still hasn't addressed regarding one of its highest-profile projects is what exactly consumers are going to use them for.

There is still no convincing consumer use case for Google Glass that isn't already offered by a smartphone or the combination of a smartphone and an equally inconspicuous smartphone.

However, for business, the potential uses are growing all of the time. Doctors and healthcare professionals have embraced Google Glass, as too have remote workers on oil rigs and even football coaches.

The latest company to find a use for Google Glass is BMW, which this week announced it has been testing the device on its production lines in the US as a way of expediting quality assurance checks. — AFP/RelaxNews 2014
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