The Shift

When wear­ables become fash­ion­ables, they’ll re­ally take off, says david chartier – and Ap­ple is the com­pany to lead the charge

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS -

David Chartier has a plan to make wear­ables zing.

The idea of wear­ing prod­ucts on our per­sons has had a long jour­ney to the main­stream. Re­mem­ber when it be­came hard to tell whether some­one was talk­ing to them­selves or a Blue­tooth head­set? Now we get to play Dick Tracy with our Ap­ple Watches, and I think Ap­ple is work­ing to ex­pand upon this trend in big ways.

Whether you pin the first wear­able con­sumer tech as the iconic Walk­man, Ca­sio cal­cu­la­tor watch, or some­thing else, so­ci­ety has steadily marched towards join­ing with our de­vices. We aren’t quite at the precipice of the hu­man-technology sin­gu­lar­ity yet, but Ap­ple is one of the few com­pa­nies that’s made head­way with use­ful tools that are ac­tu­ally fash­ion­able. Wait, bear with me…

While “fash­ion­able” hasn’t been a com­mon term in tech, I think you’ll start hear­ing it much more in the com­ing years. All the fea­tures and bat­tery life in the world won’t sell a wear­able gad­get to the masses if it isn’t also some­thing peo­ple ac­tu­ally want to wear. That means these de­vices need to fit our var­i­ous and shift­ing senses of fash­ion. It wasn’t just Ap­ple’s technology prow­ess that made it become the sec­ond largest watch maker (by rev­enue) in the world in just a year – it was also the com­pany’s sheer good taste in de­sign. So where does Ap­ple Fash­ion, Inc. go from here?

In re­cent in­ter­views, Tim Cook him­self has stated that Ap­ple is open to a de­vice like the Ap­ple Watch, but with broader med­i­cal fea­tures and mon­i­tor­ing. How­ever, such a de­vice would also be sub­ject to longer and more strin­gent reg­u­la­tory re­view cy­cles, which is why Cook also said the de­vice would be sep­a­rate from the Ap­ple Watch.

Then there’s ARKit in iOS 11, Ap­ple’s in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful new plat­form for de­vel­op­ers to build apps that use aug­mented re­al­ity. Imag­ine mov­ing your iPhone in front of you to see Maps’ di­rec­tions painted on the streets around you, or a real-time view of your city as it looked 100 years ago, or a video game on your din­ing room ta­ble. ARKit is truly amaz­ing stuff. But there’s a gen­eral con­sen­sus that its even­tual ves­sel – maybe in the com­ing years – will be some kind of Ap­ple-de­signed fash­ion­able glasses. Now, I do think it’s worth ex­am­in­ing this as­sump­tion in light of the fail­ure of Google Glass. It was a sim­i­lar prod­uct from Google that at­tached to a pair of glasses, but a key as­pect to its down­fall was Google’s hor­ri­ble rep­u­ta­tion for pri­vacy. Google Glass could record video, and clips soon cir­cu­lated of Glass wear­ers in bars be­ing phys­i­cally threat­ened if they didn’t re­move the de­vice. Bars and other es­tab­lish­ments quickly re­sponded with “No Google Glass Al­lowed” signs, nat­u­rally. Ap­ple, on the other hand, ar­guably leads the in­dus­try in fo­cus­ing on per­sonal pri­vacy and se­cu­rity. If any com­pany has a shot at this kind of de­vice, it’s the one. And, if Ap­ple sticks to its process, it will in­tro­duce these prod­ucts grad­u­ally. Think about how iOS has steadily im­proved each year: first an App Store, then copy and paste, doc­u­ment shar­ing, business sup­port, a jumbo iPad that has out­sold the Mac, and so on. This is un­charted ter­ri­tory, but Ap­ple has worked for quite some time to guide us through it.

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