People talk about wearing technology as if it’s a new thing. We should be clear, it isn’t. For centuries people have found ways to incorporate technology into what they wear, just look at the first watches – they came about when technology advanced to the point where it became possible to take something incredibly useful (technology that helped you know what time it was), and shrink it to the point where it became practical to wear every day. The resulting products enriched people’s lives and went on to define their own category for hundreds of years.
The reason people think of wearable tech the way they do is that we too, like the wearers of the first watches, are at a point in the development of technology where it is becoming practical (both technologically and economically) to take a big step forward in the usefulness of wearable devices. We’re at the point where we can create life-enriching products but, like the first watchmakers, we have to understand the role that these products play in our consumers’ lives if we are to make the most of the technological opportunity – or to put it simply, we can’t just throw a load of sensors into a device and hope.
Just like our smartphone designers, the challenge with our SmartWear is to create experiences, not just products. That sounds like tech jargon, but it’s not. If you think about it, Sony is a company that creates and enhances experiences every day – going to the cinema, listening to live music, visiting art exhibitions, receiving pictures from your friends, or just speaking to your loved ones on the phone, these are all experiences – yes they are enabled by technology but the human element is what is valuable in them. It’s this that powers our wearable vision. Some of it is already out there – take our Lifelog app for example. Sure like many other platforms, it’ll tell you how many steps you took when you ran your first marathon. But it’s the only platform that will remind you what song was playing when you crossed the finish line and remind you what it felt like to be there. We take that same approach to future development as well.
When we first evaluated different sensors for example, we noted how combining sensors with software algorithms could indicate other things like your emotional state… link that to music and images and we could take you back to the song that you listened to at a certain moment. Exploring new sensor and software combinations is important – as we believe it’s a powerful vision of how people can really learn more about themselves.
This is exactly the kind of thing that I meant when I talked above about understanding the roles that wearable tech plays in our customers’ lives. It’s fundamental – tech has to be there for a reason, it has to make lives better. Internally we call it “customer centric innovation” but in reality it just means building the products that make a difference to people, and not building the ones that don’t.