Last year for his birthday, we surprised my dad with a Nike FuelBand. On the official spectrum of tech-savvy (which I just invented), he’d probably rank just above the mean. He is, however, obsessed with taking care of himself, and enjoys toying around with shiny new gizmos, like super-powered veggie juicers. He loved it.
But by the time I visited again over the holidays, he’d stopped wearing it. I found the FuelBand stashed in a drawer near the family computer, looking sad and collecting dust. “Why’d you stop wearing it?” I asked him. “Oh,” he said. “I keep forgetting.”
His answer was telling. One in six Americans already own a piece of wearable technology, while more than half say they are interested in purchasing one. But a new report highlighted in the Guardian seems to support the idea that wearables simply don’t have the same staying power as other disruptive technologies, like, say, smartphones. According to research from Endeavour Partners, one-third of Americans who own a wearable device stop using it within the first six months. What’s more, half of American adults who own fitness trackers specifically–like the FuelBand and Jawbone–have already stopped using those, too.
Of course, that might speak more to the technology’s current limitations. Right now, fitness trackers can’t do much more than approximate how many miles you walked, or tell you how many calories you burned swinging a tennis racket. And battery life still isn’t in a place where we can completely quantify our weekly habits without needing to plug the damn thing in. When we slap on a wearable, we remain conscious of its presence, and that is a problem.
It’s too early to conclude if the technology will ever become pervasive enough for someone like my mom to care about. After all, we have yet to truly experience what the Googles and Apples of the world are capable of.