We’ve been pursuing mobile wearables testing for over a year as part of our research on the quantified self and mobile wearables. Some of the most popular devices in our stockroom include:

  • Google glass
  • Misfit Shine
  • Jawbone Up
  • Pebble smartwatch

Although everyone says that wearables are the future, we found that there are 4 common problems:

  1. Power: The #Pebble can last about a week, as well as the #Jawbone. The #Misfit Shine however, can last 3-6 months via a CR2032 battery installed in the waterproof case. However, it is a pain to change the battery as you must use their special tool to open the case. Otherwise you’ll rip the case and it doesn’t look pretty. #Googleglass scored pretty bad here, maybe 10-12 hours of usage, very similar to a mobile phone. Until they solve this issue, it’s not ready for primetime.
  2. Obtrusive: I don’t usually wear any jewelry or watches, so using these devices, all of them, was obtrusive for me. However, for the wrist devices, the Misfit Shine was certainly more comfortable than the Jawbone. The Pebble was the same size as a normal watch. Now, Google Glass took it to a whole new level. Definitely not comfortable and just got in the way.
  3. Killer app for the masses: Here is the big one. These things are a fad. They are gadgets and nothing more. Would I like to see how much I sleep or how much I walk? (Jawbone and Misfit). Sure. It was cool to see this for a few months. But after a while, who cares. I’m not going to change my exercise or sleeping habits. I don’t wear a watch and really don’t feel like putting one on. I don’t need to do things with Google Glass that my smartphone can do. Although I see Google Glass could have possible commercial uses, for the everyday Joe, not needed.
  4. Productivity gains/value added: Again, no killer app and no big gains in productivity.

Although the quantified self sounds cool, it really has a long way to go. When you start developing test cases for mobile wearables testing, think about these 4 issues. In particular, power, obtrusiveness (or ease of use), and value added. Additionally, almost all of them want you to share your data. Google Glass wants you to share it all with your Google Circles. I opted out on that one.  For the fitness wearables such as Misfit and Jawbone, will this data will be accessible or demanded by insurance companies in the future? Perhaps I may be inclined to use this sort of device and give them the data if I could get a significant discount on my health insurance, but I doubt that would happen.

I’ll be talking about mobile wearables in my talk in San Diego at Mobile Dev + Test. Come check it out or come and break bread.