US and European visions of connected objects at Odds

By December 30, 2014
wearables and connected objects

With the market for wearable electronics and connected objects beginning to boom, US-based independent technology and market research company Forrester Research has carried out a survey whose results point to differing views and expectations on either side of the Atlantic.

While the connected objects phenomenon is gathering pace on both sides of the Atlantic, the survey results which Forrester unveiled at the LeWeb 2014 conference in Paris on 9-11 December indicate that there is a conceptual gap between the United States and Europe when it comes to wearable devices.

It emerges that European and US consumers do not have exactly the same expectations for all wearables. One telling example illustrates the discrepancy between inhabitants of the two continents as regards their determination to take full advantage of wearable devices in their day-to-day lives: while 43% of the 4,500 US adults polled for the survey are planning to purchase Google Glass, just 25% of the 11,500 European adults responding said they were interested in this type of device. In fact both groups reported that they were interested first and foremost in connected objects that can be worn on the wrist or embedded in their clothes. Connected objects designed to be incorporated into existing items appear to find favour across the board. 


David Rose, patent holder, entrepreneur and lecturer at the MIT Media Lab, is one of the world’s keenest proponents of melding the Internet of Things into people’s everyday lives. Speaking at the LeWeb event, he argued that the best idea is to “spread functionality throughout everyday objects”. This is where his view of things is out of line with most of the Europe-based projects presented at LeWeb, which were practically all based on smartphone apps linked to objects. One example is French company Withings, whose basic approach is to provide Internet connectivity to a range of objects through a mobile app. David Rose’s contrasting philosophy can be illustrated by his invention of an umbrella which alerts its owner to impending rain or snow and a clock which signals the arrival of children back at the house. So it seems that Europeans tend to see wearables as inseparable from apps – and therefore from a smartphone – while across the Atlantic people would prefer not to have to use an additional device, which the app approach requires.


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