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The Fragmentation Of The Wearable Glove Ecosystem

HTC_GluuvJust a few weeks ago, Google announced Android Wear, raising serious concern about the fragmentation of the smartwatch industry. What will it mean for developers, manufacturers and designers? How will it impact consumers?

Wearables are clearly the next big thing – and today, HTC, Samsung and Toshiba all announced the next big innovation in the industry with wearable gloves. It’s a bit ironic that these manufactures – who differentiate very little with the design of their flagship smartphones – all announced such similar and revolutionary products on the same day. But these wearable gloves are destined to change the way that consumers use technology throughout the day.

However, with these new technologies – such as HTC’s Gluuv, which comes with a BoomBass straight out of the 90s, it’s clear that this is already a fragmented market. The Gluuv is designed to be inherently more social – if you see someone you like, just swipe right. On the other “hand,” there is Samsung’s glove, which comes with a built in microphone, speaker, memory, sensors and even an S laser. (Because all wearables should come with lasers.) Finally, we have Toshiba’s glove, which essentially makes you hide your face to use it. Want to listen to music? Stick your fingers in your ear. It’s the perfect wearable for those that want to take it a big step beyond being a Google Glasshole.

It’s obviously not clear what platforms these gloves will run on. As they’ll likely all be on Android, the wearable glove ecosystem will face the same fragmentation problem we’re going to see with smartwatches, but much faster. The fragmentation of wearable gloves is going to be a huge problem for the manufacturers and developers, affecting consumers who genuinely need this type of technology to function and expect to have it available to purchase by Christmas 2014 (as they seem to do with every wearable that’s been recently announced.)

Could the fragmentation of wearable gloves hurt the wearable movement? Could it stop innovation in it’s tracks? Or is the fact that three major manufacturers announced the exact same joke on April Fool’s day just an indicator that there really isn’t much innovation happening in this space — and if we really want to see something new that truly changes how we live, someone’s really going to have to think outside the box?

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