Are we facing a generational divide with wearable technology?

UK2 Group 2014 – on

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 21.03.10Are we facing a generational divide with wearable technology?
Who likes wearable technology? Young people, that’s who. 71% of people aged 16 to 24 have already used a piece of wearable tech, or are keen to do so in the future. according to research from GlobalWebIndex. Those of us who are over 24 are, statistically as well as anecdotally, more likely to scratch our heads over this urge to become one with the technology, whether it’s through the more discreet Jawbone or the more invasive Google Glass.

Having said that, it’s hard to ignore that the technology is becoming pretty impressive. The newest version of Jawbone, a pioneer in wearable technology, will be able to tell the difference between REM and just deep sleep. Wearing the bracelet around the clock will become even less obvious, as Jawbone is becoming more discreet: instead of looking like you’re wearing a watch from a Kinder egg, you’ll be able to pop the technology into a more fashionable bracelet. Soon, Jawbone expects to be able to also track users’ respiration, hydration, and whether they are tired or alert.

Of course, there are people in every generation who break the pattern: for every 80-year-old who loves email there is an 18-year-old with a phone that’s just for calls. But generally speaking, with every major jump in technology there’s a generational divide: 68% of CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever, according to a study by last year, even though we’re pretty much all in agreement that social media is the way of the future. So maybe it follows that wearable tech is the future too, rushing in with the new generation, and the skeptics are just dinosaurs? After all, wearable technology has a host of potential uses that could have a positive impact on health, by reminding users to take a breather when stress levels get too high.

Then again, age isn’t the only thing separating the under-24s in the GlobalWebIndex study from us oldies – the other divide is responsibilities at work. Maybe a gadget that tracks your every move sounds fun at 18, but twenty years later, after being glued to an email inbox that won’t quit all day, maybe the thought of a little digital detox every night will start to sound a little more appealing?

“I knew I’d hit rock bottom when I found myself lying very,very still in bed one night attempting to trick the fitness bracelet on my wrist into thinking I was still in a deep slumber. It was 2AM and my nightly battle with insomnia faced a new adversary: my Jawbone UP24,” Glynnis MacNichol, co-founder of ‘The’, wrote in ‘Elle’. Her daily visual reminder of her insomnia, courtesy of Jawbone sending the stats to her smartphone, was stressing her out, MacNichol realised, and she made a decision: she chucked the bracelet, deleted the app, and said goodbye to wearable technology: “Am I sleeping better now? I have no idea. Which is just fine with me.”

Published by Jessica Furseth

Journalist; Londoner.