Takeaways from South by Southwest: Wearables and Disappearables

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, South by Southwest delivered again on becoming a fertile stomping ground for the latest in film, music, and technology for a week in mid-March. The annual festival ran its course again this past week in its home city of Austin, Texas, where over 70 thousand people joined in on the conferences and shows.

Aside from the up and coming musical acts and indie film debuts, the festival served up interesting developments for the tech community— and wearables were on full display. From Levi’s Google collaboration on a denim jacket with interwoven conductive fibers to headgear that can control devices, the wide spectrum of wearable capabilities was apparent.

Lauren Goode’s article in the Verge this week perfectly summates the fork in the road that wearable companies are facing: They have to be really good or really wearable. Here’s how she puts it:

“If there’s anything to be said about the wearable tech shown off at SXSW this year, it’s that it falls into one of two categories: it either performs a highly specialized function, or it’s easy to wear.”

This isn’t to say that the future of wearable tech isn’t as bright as has been reported—wearables will be providing incredible value. It is becoming abundantly clear, however, that wearables need to be providing such value to justify being worn at all.

If not, as Goode puts it, 

“They have to exist not as wearables, but as disappearables.”

While this may have been clearer at SXSW than it has been in the past, it’s been an underlying trend that I’ve been harping about for months: consumers aren’t looking for vanity metrics.

Fitbit rode the first wave of wearable adoption on the public’s excitement that simple hardware strapped to your wrist could could provide some value. While it was a novel idea, it was far from a long term adoption strategy. As soon as that initial enthusiasm dried up, the vanity metrics Fitbit tracked—heart rate and steps—weren’t enough to keep users wearing the product. By Q4 of 2014, 70% of Fitbit customers reported having stopped wearing their wristbands.

Fitbits disappearing from the wrists of their users is not what Lauren Goode is referring to in her piece.

Instead, companies that don’t provide essential information have begun blending themselves into our everyday clothing. Jackets and temporary tattoos that can send signals to your smartphone can replace the need for the plastic boxes occupying wrists, reserving that real estate for the products that can provide substantial benefits to your health.

This is the second role that Biostrap plays.

The decision between integrated hardware with marginal benefits or wearables that justify their existence with meaningful benefits is a simple one: understanding health is important, and thus deserves a spot on your wrist.

Biostrap’s in-depth health analytics platform aims to make living healthier easier than ever before, removing the guessing game of your body’s day to day wellbeing. To hear more about the benefits of Biostrap, visit our pages on HRV, blood saturation, and resting heart rate. See the role Biostrap plays in day to day lives by visiting our reddit community of beta-testers.

Jump to...

Scroll to Top