The Pioneer | Delhi 05 Mar 2022
The concept of “Work From Home”and working from remote locations has been there. But, who would have imagined that the world would work from home for almost two straight years now? Corporates and brands sought alternate work arrangements and reimagined the remote work or work from home options. We saw the paradigm shift and adoption, even from the brands and industries who were hesitant initially, currently are encouraging employees to work from their preferred places now. The industry reports suggest hybrid work policy, or work from home options are becoming the“new normal”. While there are a lot of businesses that demand the physical presence of their employees. For others, work from home is giving comfort and increasing the productivity and performance of the employees.
Coming to the adoption of smart wearables and before that a saying by the American director, Godfrey Reggio“It's not that we use technology, we live technology”. Today, this statement stands true for everyone. The last few years accelerated the digital transformation that led to increased digital adoption and created opportunities for businesses and brands to meet that demand. As work from home becomes a part of the new normal, it has also augmented the growth of the smart home, smart entertainment, and the smart wearables segments. People have realised the need to digitise their surroundings to manage workloads. They realised the need to stay updated and connected and this drove the demand for consumer wearables including smartwatches and earphones.
Wearable devices are not new and include far more than just smart glasses or smartwatches. In fact, they date back to the 1960s, when Beil helicopter experimented with head-mounted displays coupled with an infrared camera - providing military helicopter pilots with the ability to land at night in rough terrain. Today, wearables have officially arrived. With the Work from Home trend induced by the pandemic, there arose the need for adoption of the connected devices category, as people are looking for new-age tech solutions to help them in their daily tasks.
The level of adoption of smart wearables has been astonishing and as per the IDC report, the Indian wearables market saw 93.8 per cent year-on-year growth in July to September 2021. This is proof that consumers seek unique product experiences. These minimalist yet powerful gadgets have become a popular choice for purchase. The innovation in products to enhance customer experience comes to the forefront when we see brands offering premium features on a budget. I am in awe of how evolutionary the smart wearables industry is.
While the young workforce adapted quickly to the home setup and optimised their working with suitable gadgets, families small or big took time to balance work and life but latched onto the trend sooner than quicker. Working parents demanded smartwatches for kids to monitor their sleep, screen time and activity. While they invested in earbuds to cancel the background noise and attend calls without interference.
From working from home to working out at home, wearables such as TWS and smartwatches have become an integral part of people's lives. With people becoming more conscious about their fitness, wireless devices became integral to monitor their heartbeat, oxygen levels and steps. Others needed earbuds to attend virtual meetings, classes and for entertainment, be it playing virtual games or binge-watching. This only suggests that being uber-mobile is the way forward for the people and being connected even without being physically connected.
Interestingly, the pandemic nudged the traditional watch users to switch to smartwatches since it offers a more holistic experience at the same price point of a normal wristwatch. The transition is slow, but very prominent. This is testament to the fact that people are choosing ease, comfort, and seamlessness.
Working professionals like me swear by the smartwatch and earbuds because it helps multitask, not miss any emails, keep track of my body movements, and set reminders when necessary. What is fascinating to note is that every decade we see reduced size of gadgets that we are getting hooked to. From desktops to tablets to smartphones to smart watches, the screen sizes have reduced but individual dependency has increased.
However, utility is one part of the wearable's spectrum; the other part is aesthetics. As the demand for smart wearables increased, the style gurus of every individual took the forefront too. This is a growing trend. Smartwatches and earbuds will not only be used for their primary usage, but also as a fashion statement, same as we do for our regular wear, party wear and different outfits and fashion accessories for different occasions. Soon a day will arrive when people have more than one TWS earbuds and an equal number of smartwatches to mix and match their look for the day and stand out in the crowd.
Wearables have the potential to change our lives and society. Regardless of the form we choose, the benefits of wearables are becoming more commonplace every day. They have come a long way from the simple step counters and fitness trackers of the past and have become a major part of our daily wardrobe. They provide ubiquitous, personalised services to the end users and are equipped with a range of sensors. Wearable devices will continue to be refined and optimized.
WFH or not, the wearables will continue to thrive and by manifolds in the coming time. Consumers today see it as an extension of their work life requirement, entertainment solution, lifestyle and fitness regime. Brands must take actions now that prepare for the disruptive opportunities and evolving platforms that will inevitably be forthcoming. By examining trends in wearable technology, emergence of 5G, ML and AIoT at large and against the backdrop of consumer expectations and industry shifts, brands should work to develop hypotheses about consumer expectations, technology breakthroughs and industry adoption.