Wearing IT around the World

I recently returned from a trip around Hungary and Holland with a group of elite athletes as we trained and competed in the sport of water polo. Our schedule contains about 5-7 hours of intense training in and out of the water, a norm for the group I travel with. Although we are focused on improvement and on on growth, we rarely record anything we do. So it wasn’t much of a surprise when I noticed many of my teammates wearing the Apple Watch. Wearables in general “serve users by providing them with information or entertainment (Buenaflor et al., 2013) and due to their close proximity to the body they can be used to better monitor information about a user or their surroundings (Svanberg, 2013)” (PAGE). What I found interesting about Page’s comment, was how they provide information and entertainment. Information is a given, but the entertainment was more of an interesting conclusion. I found my teammates checking and obsessing over their Apple Watch and how much they had ‘completed’ their daily exercise goal – after a day of 5-7 hours of training. At times, they were just shaking their hand above their head at dinner so that their friends, all the way across the world, could see they ‘filled their circles’. These ‘wearable computers’ as Page describes, are increasingly trending to what I believe is a need for information at an instants notice.

According to Ali Rebaie, “as the smartwatch obtains more data about you, it will understand you better and become your very own personal assistant, helping you in your everyday activities” (wired magazine). These wearables begin to become a part of us, not just because it’s worn, but because of the relationship created. Even looking at my teammates this past trip, they were infatuated with the information being logged into their watch. It became the topic of discussion and the center of attention. There was the need-to-know basis even on a casual stroll to coffee. Rebaie speaks of this relationship as the transition to a need of ‘data trace’. In terms of the Apple Watch, they believe , “the ephemeralization of technology using big data and Internet of Things will continue to move us from a “materia trace” to a “data trace,” and to gradually replacing specific-purpose devices.” (wired magazine) I question what we are replacing though. Are we replacing our own internal data system, our own mind with this need for instant information? What will the Apple Watch become next through this transition to data tracing?

In a recent article about the addiction of wearables, in which I witnessed second hand, a very fit male, R. Chester, channels perhaps why these already over-the-top athletes were so invested in their wearable technology. He thinks that apple watches and other wearable fitness technology can be very helpful, but you have to realize what it is at the same time . We are in an age of instant gratification and having fitness goals feeds that with positive reinforcement (Chester). Then again, one needs to realize this technology only knows so much about you and you can make it as helpful or as pointless as you want – we choose what we ‘want’ to see or ‘want’ to be seen about ourselves. It doesn’t know the difference in a lot of things you do, but it does recognize the difference between if you do something or you don’t. At the end of the day, no results are promised besides a reminder to “get up and move”. The data being collected though is what truly fuels this reminder and it will only keep enhancing as the consumer feeds it. This trend of wearable technology has changed it’s intent through analysis and growth, but the fitness world keeps finding it’s way through this loop. What will be the next addition into this consumer driven intelligence system?



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