Wearables are all the rage these days. From marquee announcements like the Galaxy Gear and the Sony SmartWatch to wearable startups scrounging for funds on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, there’s no dearth of activity in this segment. So it was with no surprise that we read All Things D report on Rachel Kalmar, a woman who wears (at least) 21 wearables every day.
It may be eccentric, but Kalmar is not crazy. In fact, she works for Misfit Wearables, the makers of Shine, just one of the many personal-fitness devices that Kalmar has strapped on to various parts of her body. The obvious reason is that she wants to test the Shine’s accuracy against the competition, but for Kalmar, it’s more about data than accuracy. In her opinion, fitness trackers are becomingly increasingly difficult to manage, especially in the light of dozens of them being available in the market. For Kalmar, the abundance of new devices and the consequent glut of unmanaged data are huge problems. And her wearable binge is an effort to solve this. (Check out this video to see how Kalmar manages her many wearables)
The 21 wearables on her person include Nike FuelBand, Fitbit, Basis, Pebble, Withings Pulse, Jawbone Up, BodyMedia Link, and of course, Shine. Unlike the Gear and Sony’s effort, most of these wearables and smartwatches are positioned as fitness companions that provide constant data to motivate users to stick to their workout regime, or eschew the couch and get some steps under their belt. This data is locked up within each device’s ecosystem and there is no way yet for users to combine data from various wearables and get an accurate picture of their regime. By being locked in within one device, the user only gets one part of the picture, which has dangerous implications in health and wellness categories.
Kalmar told ATD she wants manufacturers to give users open access to raw data, so that they can better form a picture of their fitness lives. Kalmar also believes that app makers and device developers will get a better idea of what features and sensors to introduce in their next-gen products based on this data and user activity. A potential application is location and context-aware notifications and actions, such as wearables tweeting when you hit your goals, or texting your instructor when it looks like you will miss your goals.
And that's No 18 (Image: All Things D)
In contrast to Kalmar’s dreams, the focus for mainstream companies, it would seem, is bringing smartwatches that can do it all – the Swiss Army knife method. But it shouldn’t be about all the things the device can do, but what you can actually do with everything it spits out.