Wearables growth slowed by high prices and design similarities

Wearables adoption is being stunted by high prices and poor designs with consumers remaining unmoved when it comes to buying the new technology.

New types of technology, such as smartwatches and wristbands, have been everywhere at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show [CES] in Las Vegas and one problem identified is being unable to tell the difference between each device.

"I have 20 different photos, but if I look at the pictures I couldn't tell you which product is from which vendor. They all look the same," Stacy Rasgon, a semiconductor analyst at Bernstein, told ITPro.co.uk. "Wearables sound like a great idea and there's going to be a lot of experimentation. People are throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks."

Even with this being the case Simon Randall, whose British-based firm OMG Life is producing the Autographer wearable camera, is not surprised at the view that adoption is low and cautioned the market needs time to find its niche.

"New things take time to be broadly adopted but if there's an intrinsic benefit at the heart of them they'll prosper," he said.

Intel is one such company that has debuted wearable technology at CES 2014 and the man heading up the company’s push into the sector is convinced that his firm’s approach of building devices with a specific purpose will succeed.

"For wearables to finally match up with the hype, [they have] to be a true solution, where it isn't about the technology - it's about what the technology enables you to do, something you couldn't do before," said Mike Bell, the senior executive leading Intel’s wearables team. "The function, form and experience have to be as important as the parts you slap inside.”

The devices include prototype earbuds that have a built-in heart rate monitor as well as a smartwatch that can issue an alert when a vulnerable person leaves a certain geographical area.

It’s estimated that the market for wearables will have reached 64 million shipments by 2017 with the figure growing by 50 per cent per year for each of the 12 months until then.