Are AI Wearables a Tech Revolution or Another Fad?

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In an era marked by rapid technological advances, artificial intelligence wearables are at the forefront of innovation. These devices combine hands-free operation with smart features and promise to change how we interact with technology.

But do they achieve any kind of purpose or product market fit? Techopedia looks closely at the market for AI wearables, focusing on the latest and most popular devices that are making a big impact.

These include the Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer, the Humane AI Pin, and established devices like the Apple Watch Series 9, Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation), and the Fitbit Charge 5.

We use these examples to explore broader market trends and investigate shipping data from 2021 to 2023.

By comparing the possibilities of new technology with the familiar use of existing devices, we then explore how these innovations realistically meet consumer needs and expectations — or if they are using hype to try to force a market.

Key Takeaways

  • AI wearables are becoming more common, merging high-tech features with everyday use to change the way we interact with gadgets.
  • The article uses shipment data from 2021 to 2023 to examine how widely these tech wearables are distributed and how much interest consumers might have in them.
  • Different types of wearables are seeing varying levels of success; smartwatches and earwear are becoming more popular, whereas wristbands and other specialized tech wearables are experiencing declines.
  • The article evaluates whether the latest AI wearables fulfill their manufacturers’ promises and meet consumers’ expectations.
  • Although there are current challenges, there is great potential for growth, especially in sectors like AI-powered clothing, which could significantly change personal technology.

First Question: Are Tech Wearables A Success?

Outside of early experiments such as the Humane AI Pin and, if you are being generous, the Rabbit R1, we are still in the very early days of AI in wearables.

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But give it time, and you can take that phrase literally, with companies looking to sell clothes with embedded AI(!).

So, let’s start with the form factor and see if there is a market appetite for wearables, regardless of their smartness.

Inspecting figures from the global shipments of wearable devices from 2021 to 2023 across different product categories, we can understand the appetite for wearable tech across different types of products with some help from Statista.

Global Wearables Shipments 2021 - 2023
Global Wearables Shipments 2021 – 2023

On the smartwatches side, no doubt assisted by the power of the Apple Watch brand, shipments grew from 136 million to 165 million from 2021 to 2023.

While the statistic most predominantly shows strong consumer trust for Apple, it also demonstrates these devices have moved from being luxury items to parts of everyday life.

On the other hand, wristbands like the Fitbit Charge 5 are seeing a decline, with shipments dropping from 55 million to 34 million over the same period.

This suggests a move towards more versatile wearables, such as smartwatches, which often provide similar but enhanced features compared to wristbands.

“Other” wearables, which will include devices like the Humane AI Pin, also saw a decline from 2.8 million units in 2021 to 0.9 million in 2023.

Which AI Wearables Exist Today? Is The Sector Likely to Take Off?

It is often said that there is truth in markets.he economic decisions we make as individuals — from buying a sandwich to renting or buying a house — shape the world we live in.

We can see that smartwatches as a form factor have carved their niche in the world, and glasses can serve as a vision aid, or to shade us on sunny days, or simply as a fashion accessory.

Will AI push these markets further? Will smart clothing and smart pins take off? Do any of these devices serve a need?

Early adopters are already trying to figure it out, and we look at what companies promise — and the state of the critical feedback so far.

Smart Glasses: Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer

Promised Benefits

Smart glasses enter the market with the bold promise of integrating augmented reality into our daily lives.

However, the Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer does not include AR capabilities. Instead, it includes hands-free operation through voice commands, allowing users to listen to music, live stream, take calls, or ask questions to Meta AI.

Actual Performance

While these glasses offer innovative AI functionalities, their real-world utility is hampered by limitations in the practical usability of voice commands in noisy environments.

Despite excellent audio quality thanks to AI-enhanced noise cancellation, the overall user experience struggles to move beyond niche appeal because these AI features do not fully integrate into everyday convenience.

Ultimately, despite their innovative features, smart glasses like the Ray-Ban Meta Wayfarer represent a niche category in the wearables market. Only time will tell whether smart glasses will remain at the forefront of the tech wearables shipping figures.

Smartwatches: Apple Watch Series 9

Promised Benefits

The Apple Watch Series 9 is equipped with the S9 SiP chip, which includes a 4-core neural engine that ‘enhances AI functions for improved voice and image recognition’.

This upgrade boosts Siri‘s performance, allowing it to process requests directly on the device without needing a cloud connection.

Additionally, Siri works with the Health app to let users manage health data through voice commands, making the experience more convenient. The new model also offers better dictation accuracy, ensuring that Siri accurately understands and responds to commands.

These features make the Apple Watch Series 9 more efficient and user-friendly in daily operations and health tracking.

Actual Performance

The widespread acceptance of the Apple Watch Series 9 highlights its essential role in daily life. Its flawless integration with the iPhone, extensive app offerings, and customization features have built a strong following.

Users consistently praise its easy-to-use interface and how well it integrates with other Apple products, securing its place as a popular choice. Ultimately, it appears that the Apple Watch has transcended being merely a luxury item to become a device that boosts productivity, enhances connectivity, and supports health management.

So that’s a win for AI — but customers are probably buying for the watch first, with the AI as a bonus.

Wristbands: Fitbit Charge 5

Promised Benefits

The Fitbit Charge 5 is packed with appealing features aimed at those who love fitness and want to monitor their health.

It uses advanced sensors and AI-driven algorithms to monitor health closely, offering constant heart rate tracking, sleep analysis, and insights into stress management.

It also provides customized advice to enhance workout effectiveness and lower stress.

Designed to be slim and light, it’s comfortable for all-day wear and perfect for tracking daily activities and exercise.

Actual Performance

Fitbit’s AI features, like the Daily Readiness Score that suggests daily activities, are well-received for their ability to personalize health advice. The tracker reliably measures heart rate and sleep, providing customized insights.

Stress levels are tracked over time with the EDA sensor, which gets smarter with more data.

However, unlocking all AI benefits requires a Fitbit Premium subscription, a downside for those who don’t want extra expenses.

The AI functions make it a strong competitor in the fitness tracker market, but the need for a paid subscription to use all features may discourage users looking for a tracker with no ongoing fees.

AI Earwear: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Promised Benefits

The second generation of Apple’s AirPods Pro reinforces the utility of AI in personal audio devices. With active noise cancellation powered by computational audio, they provide an immersive sound experience tailored to the user’s environment.

The integration of Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, allows for hands-free control and personalized assistance, enhancing daily interactions and tasks.

The adaptive EQ and spatial audio features offer a customized listening experience, and the addition of health tracking capabilities, like hearing health notifications, extends their functionality beyond mere earbuds to health-conscious devices.

Actual Performance

Users state that the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) showcases impressive AI-driven features that significantly enhance user interaction and sound quality. The Adaptive Transparency mode, powered by the advanced H2 chip, intelligently adjusts to surrounding noises, ensuring effective noise cancellation while keeping users aware of their environment.

This is particularly useful in loud areas, as it dynamically balances incoming sounds. Additionally, the Conversation Boost feature focuses on enhancing voice clarity during calls, making conversations sound clearer even in busy environments.

Again, Apple shows a way to integrate AI into a product that actually does improve the user experience.

Other Wearables: Humane AI Pin

Promised Features

The Humane AI Pin was launched with big promises to change how we use technology every day, aiming to make us less dependent on our smartphone screens.

This device, which was created with significant funding from big tech companies, aims to bring AI into our everyday lives. It offers a laser projector to show information on your hand, a touchpad, a camera, and the option to connect to AI services like ChatGPT.

It was advertised as a step into a future where a simple pin could take care of communication, entertainment, and help with tasks.

Actual Performance

The Humane AI Pin has not lived up to expectations and has faced a lot of criticism. Reviews say it has fallen short of its goal of taking over smartphone functions and has issues with basic tasks.

People have complained about the battery life, problems seeing the laser display clearly, slow reactions, and the device getting too hot. The AI, including ChatGPT, has often misunderstood commands and given wrong answers.

At $699 plus a monthly fee, it has been seen as too pricey for what it offers and like a project that was rushed out too soon.

Right now, the Humane AI Pin is seen more as a gadget for tech enthusiasts rather than something everyone needs. There’s room for improvement, but it’s not there yet.

Is the Next Frontier AI-Powered Clothing?

The field of AI-powered clothing is still emerging within the broader wearables market, which is largely focused on devices like smartwatches and fitness bands. Current “smart clothing” primarily features garments embedded with sensors that monitor biometric data and environmental conditions, such as heart rate and temperature.

However, incorporating AI to provide more profound, adaptive insights into clothing has not yet achieved widespread use or notable advancements.

Despite the lack of dominant AI-enhanced clothing on the market, the potential for innovation in this area is significant.

As AI technology improves and becomes smaller, it’s likely that clothing will move beyond passive monitoring to actively offer personalized advice and insights based on AI analysis of collected data.

You bought the ring, the smartwatch, and the pin — why not get the jacket too?

The Bottom Line

The exploration of AI wearables reveals a complex scenario where advanced technology meets practical use.

Devices like the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) show that high-cost AI gadgets can truly enhance daily life with their smooth integration and dependable functionality — when they are designed with good intentions.

However, others, like the Humane AI Pin, show that not all innovations achieve success. This difference underscores a major challenge in the AI wearables market: the need for these technologies to be innovative and provide real improvements to daily life.

The bottom line is that success in AI wearables is not just about the novelty of AI but how effectively these technologies satisfy user needs and fit into everyday routines.

The market is expected to keep evolving, with consumer expectations and technological improvements driving more innovations that could eventually make AI wearables as common and vital as smartphones.

FAQs

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Maria Webb
Technology Journalist
Maria Webb
Technology Journalist

Maria is a technology journalist with over five years of experience with a deep interest in AI and machine learning. She excels in data-driven journalism, making complex topics both accessible and engaging for her audience. Her work is prominently featured on Techopedia, Business2Community, and Eurostat, where she provides creative technical writing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English and a Master of Science in Strategic Management and Digital Marketing from the University of Malta. Maria's background includes journalism for Newsbook.com.mt, covering a range of topics from local events to international tech trends.