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Recent news about North (I have a soft spot for Thalmic) had me thinking about about wearables as augmentative devices. I’ve eschewed wearables for some time and had used the unnaturalness of wearables as an argument for the Ubi. I still think wearables are a fine balance. They can’t be conspicuous and they should replace what might be a standard (non-device) wearable or become invisible to the user altogether.

Apple Watch works because you don’t need to sell the value of a watch to the user. Google Glasses were more difficult because they were very conspicuous. Maybe North can pull something off by not being so apparent to those around the wearers. If you don’t need glasses, you’re taking on a high price to be augmented. Being someone who worse glasses for many years and then stopped, I know that not having glasses is much more convenient. Glasses get dirty and scratched and infants and toddlers love practicing their fine motor skills with them.

In terms of other types of wearables, the Oura ring is interesting in that you can forget about it. Same with Fitbit and other wristbands and rings. Other invisible devices that offer a lot more health details or a bigger picture of health, like continuous glucose monitors, might become more common place and easy to forget but still provide meaningful data.

However, most of our augmentation won’t come from having information displayed to us but from things happening behind the scenes on our behalf. Changing our information feeds or inboxes to optimize for focus, financial gain, or health might provide much more impact than having the weather projected onto our irises. Instant access to information for anyone everywhere through voice or via our handhelds, and having our environments monitored around us on our behalf might be better than anything we can stick on ourselves.

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