A use case for wearables

I’m not a big fan of wearable technology such as smartwatches or Google Glass. Maybe¬†I don’t understand the technology well enough, or I’m having a hard time seeing past today to imagine the possibilities. I’ve written about my reservations regarding wearables in the past (click here to read the article), and blogger Seth Godin wrote a great summary on why smartwatches could face significant adoption headwinds. I’d highly recommend reading the article (click here to view), but the short summary questions whether people wear watches for function or as a reflection of their taste in style.

Thankfully, I’m not the one driving the future of the technology. Otherwise, a use case I saw this week wouldn’t be possible.

Google Glass

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed an application for Google Glass that “enables everyday communication for the hard-of-hearing.” It allows a person with hearing loss to see what someone is saying to them. It works by having someone install an application on their phone. When someone speaks into the phone while the application is running, their words are transcribed onto Google Glass for the person to read. It’s the first version of the application, but I could envision this becoming an application that could be built-in to the glasses at some point in the future. For someone with hearing loss, it would open up a whole new way for a person to interact with their environment.

While I don’t understand why someone would wear Google Glass around on a daily basis, I can totally understand why someone with hearing loss would want to wear it. It’s applications like these that have me re-thinking my stance on wearables. I’m still having a hard time seeing how the technology translates to the mainstream consumer audience, but it’s obvious there will be and are specific use cases that have huge benefits for certain classes of people. It’s enough to make me believe that continued investment in wearable technology is worth it.

Who knows, in the future, I may even find that the technology indispensable. I didn’t believe I needed a cell phone for the longest time, and now I rarely leave my house without one. So, despite my stance today that wearables are a technology reserved for specialty use cases, I reserve the right to change my mind in the future.