According to IDC’s statistics in 2015, wristwear is the most emerging wearable technology device, within five years. Its popularity is growing the entire value of the wearable market, and in addition no other type of wearable device is predicted to break into the mainstream. Since 2015, similar kinds of wristwear devices, such as Apple Watch or FitBit have been gaining popularity. However, honestly, I rarely see people who actually use these kinds of devices in real life. It might be useful when they work out, but maybe not in everyday life. Also, personally I feel that wearing something on the wrist, which is not that small might be uncomfortable, and many people do not like the design that definitely seems like a “technological device,” not a normal watch or bracelet. Those sporty or casual designs make it hard for people to wear them often. For example, if you are a businessman, or an office woman, these kinds of casual “wearable technology devices” do not match with your formal clothing and work places.
At that time, I found an interesting and innovative wearable device, which satisfied a need for beauty with similar technology services. It is called EAR-O-SMART. Ear-O-Smart is the first smart earring which can monitor heart rate, calories, and activity level in a highly fashionable way. It connects to a smartphone with Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology and allows users to monitor a wide range of fitness data.Whole activities, such as burning calories during a workout, can be seen and manipulated through the companion app that will be with the Ear-O-Smart. Also, users can create their own different designs matching with their dress everyday while keeping the same circuit underneath. It was first introduced in 2015 and became available on the market on October. In the 15th Wearable Technologies Conference 2015 held in Milan, Italy, Ashlyn Bird from Biosensive Technologies presented Ear-O-Smart. She said that it has many different kinds in design, and they are even smaller, more fashionable, and unobtrusive compared to other wearable devices in beauty field.
This was interesting in terms of combining “fashion” and “electronics.” Compared to existed popular wearable devices, Ear-O-Smart monitors users’ activity level without compromising their looks. This quote from the official website of Ear-O-Smart shows where are they coming from. It says, “The wearable market is expanding quickly, but the problem is that your options are very limited; most fitness monitors are limited to wrist based electronics. Would you want to wear a bulky wrist monitor to a party or on a date? We think not…” I agree that most of wearable devices are focused on their fitness/health functions, so their design is not harmonious in everyday lives’ fashion and it is not perfectly matched with normal lifestyle. In this sense, I would say that Ear-O-Smart well combined “beauty” into “technology” by satisfying users, especially who are awaiting more practical and fashionable wearable devices.
Another reason that I choose this device as an innovative technology in beauty/fashion field is because of the differences from other smartclothes or accessories. For example, the article, The Man Who Wants to turn Our Clothes into Modular Gadgets introduces The B.B. Suit, which is a 3D-knitted smartclothes that has Wi-Fi access point, a GPS tracker, and a playlist. It is an interesting and eco-friendly product that enables communication in an organic, smartphone-free way. However, the biggest barrier to expand commercially is the limitation of its usage. People should wear a specific clothing, which is an unrealistic idea. Nobody cannot wear the same or similar outfit every day. Also, it is difficult to wash, and cannot be expected to go into mass production soon as well. Therefore, as a clothing, The B.B. Suit failed to achieve diversity in their types, which means that they cannot give diverse choices to users. In contrast, Ear-O-Smart has advantageous position as an “accessory” and used it well by making diverse choices. Even though it was limited to female users as earrings, it creates many different kinds of earrings with private designs.
Also, I like the idea of Ear-O-Smart that it focused on having few specific functions, which is matched with its small size. Some wearable devices try to include many different kinds of functions similar to smartphones; however, I think wearable devices cannot replace smartphones or laptops. As they come in smaller sizes and limited designs, they should focus on specific features. Not to mention, when you think about smartphones, nobody uses all of the features that they have.
As NiemanLab discusses, we are about to enter the era of glance journalism. People are getting busier and busier, so they want to get a minimum amount of information, which is relevant and important for them, with a simplistic way. The same principle applies to the wearable device field. Each device should be created with a distinctive goal/design, to satisfy users’ needs. Ear-O-Smart did a good job of narrowing down its functions to match with designs. Users do not expect a whole bunch of features with a single earring. As most of their users are women who care about calories and body images, monitoring heart rate, calories, and activity are simple, but very necessary features for them.
Of course, I think there are some limitations and disadvantages of Ear-O-Smart. The first is a limitation in the type of users, and the second is the issue of distinction. For example, Fitbit or Applewatch can be used by both female and male users. There are no specific limitations about gender of users. However, Ear-O-Smart targets specifically female users as a type of earring. It can be a barrier to expand their market and a range of users. However, on the other side, even though it targets a limited type of user, it provides more diverse choices within its products. Fitbit has a few colors and designs that customers can choose, but Ear-O-Smart can be created in many different designs based on customers’ tastes. Therefore, I think if they utilize their own specific advantages in the wearable device market well, there might be positive outcomes.
The second issue is how they can be special. Ear-O-Smart should think about how they can be differentiated from other wearable accessories with technology. For example, OURA which is a smart ring, is similar to Ear-O-Smart. As a ring, it might have broader customer range, and easily reach to people. Also, many devices in accessory field are coming nowadays, so Ear-O-Smart need to consider their own distinctive characteristics that can target more customers.