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A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in partial

fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Masters of Arts


Katherine Watier

Washington, DC

April 19, 2003


Copyright 2003 by Katherine Watier

All Rights Reserved


I would like to thank the entire staff of Youth Service America for their support

and understanding during my thesis process. Many thanks to the professionals in the

industry who helped me with my research: Xybernaut Corporation, Tim Shea at Venture

Development Corporation and Greg Jenkins at MicroOptical. My mom and second

mom (Judy) deserve a huge amount of thanks for editing various pieces of this thesis

and for providing emotional support. Finally, my friends and family deserve more

praise that I can give for being there through my ups and downs. I could not have made

it through without their support.

Many thanks to all,

Katherine Watier









1.1 Wearable Computer Definition


1.1.1 Fully-functioning Computers


1.1.2 Head Mounted Displays


1.1.3 Input Devices


1.1.4 Always-On Functionality


1.1.5 Power supply


1.2 The History of Wearable Computing


1.3 Wearable Computing Industry & Consumer Products


1.4 Current Consumer Wearable Computing Applications


1.5 Future Applications and Features


1.5.1 Sharing Experiences via Video


1.5.2 Remembrance Agents


1.5.3 GPS Driven Information


1.5.4 Intersection with Smart Fabrics


1.5.5 Intersection with NanoTechnology








2.1 The Purchasing Decision Process



Stages of Decision Making


2.2 Categories of Adopters


2.2.1 Innovators


2.2.2 Early Adopters


2.2.3 Early Majority


2.2.4 Late Majority


2.2.5 Laggards


2.2.6 Early Market vs. Mainstream Market


2.3 Factors that Impact Rate of Adoption


2.3.1 Relative Advantage


2.3.2 Compatibility


2.3.3 Complexity


2.3.4 Trialability


2.3.5 Observability


2.3.6 Consumer Valued Attributes


2.4 Criticism of Adoption and Diffusion Models


2.5 Theories of Consumer Behavior




2.5.1 Motivation


2.5.2 Perception


2.6 Predicting Markets for New Technology


2.6.1 Bass Model for Predicting Adoption


2.6.2 Criticisms of the Bass Model


2.6.3 Delphi Method for Predicting Adoption


2.6.4 Other Models


2.7 Use of Product Prediction Theories in this Analysis








3.1 First Web Survey


3.1.1 Determining Early Adopters


3.1.2 Demographics


3.1.3 Daily Technology Use


3.2 Second Email Survey


3.2.1 Determining Early Adopters


3.2.2 Second Survey Demographics


3.3 Poma Focus Group


3.3.1 Focus Group Demographics


3.3.2 Written Responses



3.4 Daily Poma Use



Daily Use Demographics


3.5 Data Analysis: Common Themes of Issues and Concerns


3.6 Expectations & Pop Culture Associations


3.6.1 Focus Group


3.6.2 Daily Use


3.6.3 Survey


3.7 Concerns about Impact on Social Reactions


3.7.1 Focus Group


3.7.2 Daily Use


3.7.3 Surveys


3.8 Concerns about Being Always Connected



User Interface


3.9 Mobility


3.9.1 Focus Group


3.9.2 Surveys


3.9.3 Daily Use


3.10 “Always-On” VS. “On-by-Command”


3.10.1 Focus Group


3.10.2 Daily Use






3.11 Integration with Smart Clothing


3.11.1 Focus Group


3.11.2 Surveys


3.12 Potential Applications


3.12.1 Focus Group


3.12.2 Daily Use


3.12.3 Surveys


3.13 Interest in Purchasing


3.13.1 Focus Group


3.13.2 Surveys


3.14 Data Analysis Conclusions


3.14.1 Not Interested in 24/7 Full Mobile Computing


3.14.2 Concerned about Social Impact


3.14.3 Issues with Product Interface and Features


3.14.4 Disinterest in Smart Clothing with Embedded Wearables


3.14.5 Cultural


3.15 Impact of Findings on Wearable Computers Adoption








4.1.1 Network Effects


4.1.2 Economies of Scale


4.1.3 Standards


4.2 Mechanics of Wireless Data Transmission


4.3 Wireless Evolution and History


4.3.1 WiFi – Standards


4.3.2 WiFi - Structure


4.3.3 Other Wireless Data Standards


4.4 WiFi – Deployment Issues


4.4.1 Usability Issues


4.4.2 Security Issues


4.4.3 Future Deployment - Subscription


4.4.4 Future Growth


4.5 Cellular Evolution and History


4.6 Generations of Standards


4.6.1 1G- First Generation


4.6.2 2G - Second Generation


4.6.3 2.5G – 2.5 Generation


4.6.4 3G - Third Generation


4.6.5 SDMA





4-G Future of US Cellular



Impact of Current Wireless Internet Infrastructure on this Research







5.1 Wireless Infrastructure Limitations


5.2 Predicting Consumer Interest for Wearable Computers


5.3 Product Improvement Suggestions


5.4 Cultural Influences over Consumer’s Decisions


5.5 Social & Fashion influences


5.6 Disinterested in an “Always-on” Product


5.7 Wearable Devices that Consumers Want



Interest in Head Mounted Displays


5.8 Market Conditions


5.9 Accelerators and Inhibitors


5.10 Challenges and Opportunities


5.11 Opportunities for Non-Technical Services Using Wearable Computers


5.12 Marketing Suggestions


















List of Figures



Figure 1.1. MicroOptical’s SVC Display with CharmIt


Figure 1.2

Xybernaut’s Poma Image #1


Figure 1.3

Xybernaut’s Poma Image #2


Figure 1.4

MicroOptical Display Image #1


Figure 1.5

MicroOptical Display Image #2


Figure 1.6

The “Twiddler”


Figure 2.1

The Adoption-Diffusion Curve


Figure 2.2 Chasm Between Early Adopters and Mainstream Market


Figure 2.3

Innovation Adoption Curve


Figure 2.4 Early Subscriber Growth for Select Telecomm. Services


Figure 3.1

Survey #1: Mobile Device Ownership


Figure 3.2

Survey #1: Daily Technology Use


Figure 3.3 Survey #1: Interest in Daily Technology Use While Mobile


Figure 3.4

Focus Group: Mobile Device Ownership


Figure 3.6 Survey #1: Emotional Reaction to Wearable Computers


Figure 3.7 Survey #1: Friend's Potential Reaction to Wearable Computer


Figure 3.7

Survey #2: Display Preferences


Figure 3.8 Survey #2: Purchasing Wearable Computers in Clothing



Figure 3.9 Survey #2: Interest in Smart Fabric Products


Figure 3.10 Survey #2: Preference for Wearable Computers in Clothing


Figure 3.11 Survey #1: Most Interesting Wearable Computing Feature


Figure 3.12 Survey #1: Issues Which Would Prevent Purchase




New technology development often takes inspiration from science fiction and

stretches the established social concept of what is possible. Wearable computers have

followed that type of technology development pattern for over 20 years while

simultaneously envisioning and implementing real solutions for defense, commercial

and retail uses. Within those arenas, having a fully-functioning computer that allows for

hands-free access to data and the ability to complete computational functions while

mobile provides measurable benefits.

Forays into the consumer market for wearable computers have only just begun.

Two companies have introduced the wearable computer to the consumer market.

Xybernaut Corporation’s Poma and Charmed Technology’s CharmIt product have been

developed for the consumers market. Neither firm has conducted a thorough analysis of

the consumer market beyond the first-to-adopt section of consumers. In addition, the

wearable computing industry has yet to conduct an analysis of consumer interest in this

technology. Are early adopter consumers interested in wearable computers? Or, is the

technology so beyond their realm of interest or comprehension that addressing this

market segment is a waste of wearable computer firms’ marketing resources? Cutting-

edge technologies like wearable devices could evoke negative associations with

consumers. Brad King wrote for the WIRED article “The Computer Looks Great on

You” that, “The idea of the wearable computer evokes scary thoughts of sci-fi super-


soldiers, intelligent cyborgs and an always-on government tracking its citizens.”1 Is this

type of negative association with wearable computers a universal issue for consumers?

This thesis will address these issues by gathering input from early adopter

consumers about what type of features they are most interested in, which functionality

would entice them to purchase a wearable computing product, and what issues and pre-

existing attitudes consumers have about wearable computers that will hinder its


This thesis examines the early consumer market’s potential adoption of wearable

computers by determining which wearable computer features and applications would

appeal to consumers, by outlining whether the network infrastructure exists to truly

support mass mobile computing, and by examining which pre-existing consumer

attitudes and reactions to wearable computers will influence the product’s adoption.

This thesis will employ a variety of research strategies (which include literature

reviews, market analysis and the collection of feedback from consumers) to highlight the

issues influencing wearable computer’s successful adoption by the early adopter

consumer market. The research for this thesis is divided into three types of strategies

(literature review, infrastructure analysis and consumer feedback) formulated over four


1 Brad King, "That Computer Looks Great on You," WIRED, March 12 2002.


The first chapter explores the history, development, features, and applications of

wearable computers and the state of current consumer wearable computing products. It

presents a discussion of wearable computers’ influential inventors, current market

presence, and industry focus. This chapter also outlines the consumer products’ various

functionality and applications.

The second chapter examines a multitude of theories that shed insight into how

to present a new technology to the early adopter consumer market. This chapter outlines

the academic study of product adoption and new product market prediction as well as

the study of consumer behavior. Various methods and theories from these academic

fields are reviewed and their direct application to early adopter consumers’ interest and

potential purchase of wearable computers is explored.

The third chapter presents the findings from the direct data collection conducted

for this thesis. The three data collection efforts consisted of two web surveys driven by

email invitations, one focus group, and one daily use trial of Xybernaut Corporation's

Poma product by a member of the target market. The Poma product was chosen as the

wearable computing example because it was more extensively marketed to consumers

than the CharmIt product, and its price ($1,200 vs. $3,500) is more suited to this market.

The first data collection effort used two email-driven/web-based surveys that asked early

adopter consumers different sets of questions about their feelings and associations with

wearable computers, wearable computer displays, and their integration with smart


clothing.2 The second type of data collection was a focus group where selected

respondents from the surveys were invited to use Xybernaut Corporation’s Poma and

provide feedback. Finally, a test subject was selected out of the focus group to use the

Poma on a daily basis and he recorded his social interactions and comments about

product usability.3

Based on clear indications from consumers in this study that being able to access

full page Internet content while mobile is the application that will fuel adoption of

wearable computers, the fourth chapter outlines the evolution and current state of the

two wide-range standards for wireless data transmission within the US – WiFi and

cellular.4 An overview of network economic theories is discussed to assist in examining

how current wireless network limitations will impede the adoption of wearable

computers by early adopting consumers.

2 The full set of questions used for the two surveys are located in the Appendixes.

3Usability is defined in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer’s Standard Computer Dictionary as: the ease with which a user can learn to operate, prepare inputs for, and interpret outputs of a system or component.

4 This is instead of the clipped and abbreviated web content that is now displayed on mobile devices.


This thesis concludes with an outline of the current challenges and opportunities

presented by the network infrastructure, consumer attitudes toward wearable computers,

and product feedback. Product enhancement suggestions and messaging points are

presented for use by wearable computing firms in their marketing of the next generation

wearable computers to this market. Finally, this thesis presents a prediction for the

potential adoption of wearable computers by early adopting consumers.


Chapter 1: Wearable Computers Overview

Why should you care about the wearable computer? Not because it is some dangerous new bugaboo with the potential to destroy all life on the planet with the flip of a switch, but for precisely the opposite reason: Because it is everywhere, as ubiquitous as it is invisible, capable of changing the everyday minutiae of how we go about our lives, permeating our consciousness, altering fears, desires, and ways of being. You should care because the wearable computer is at once strange and familiar; alien and domestic, a dangerous foe and your new best friend. You should care because, unlike the doomsday-opening scenario you might have been expecting, soon our lives will be dramatically changed by the wearable computer. But the world will look pretty much the same - and most of us won’t even notice.5


The development of a formal definition for a particular piece of technology often

emerges after a customer group has used the product in an established market, and

wearable computers are no exception. Generally, a wearable computer can be

described as a fully functional, self-powered, self-contained computer that is worn on

the body, providing access to and interaction with information anywhere and at

anytime.6 Physically, the apparatus consists of a battery-powered, wearable Internet-

connected computer system with a miniature eyeglass-mounted screen and the

appropriate optics to form a virtual image equivalent to an ordinary desktop

5 Hal Niedzviecki Steve Mann, Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer (Toronto: DoubleDay Canada, 2002).

6 T. Mann Starner, S. Rhodes, B. Levine, J. Healy, J.Kirsch, D. PicardR, and Pentland, A., "Augmented Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments," in Fundamentals of Wearable Computing (1997).pp. 6.


multimedia computer before the user’s field of vision. Because the device is tetherless,

it travels with the user, presenting a computer screen that either appears superimposed

on top of the real world, or represents the real world as a video image.7 Different

product models take on different shapes, but the majority of the models consist of a

central processing unit (CPU) the size of a paperback book worn clipped to a belt

around the waist with a pair of eyeglasses, or a band around the head that has a screen

over one eye to render the display. Models also have some sort of an input device

usually either an optical mouse, embedded keyboard, chording device (a device which

requires keys being pressed simultaneously for each character typed - like playing a

chord on a piano or guitar) or voice recognition technology.

Wearable computers differ from traditional handheld devices in a variety of ways.

First, they are fully-functioning computers with all of the computing power of a

desktop system. Secondly, they often use Head Mounted Displays (HMD) to render

the display.8 Thirdly, different products use a variety of input devices to enter data into

the system that are not keyboard based and include: optical mice, voice recognition and

chording. Fouthly, the human interaction with the system is different due to its

8 In this instance, a fully-functioning computer refers to a computing device that can run various software applications and can provide users with the same range of office support, entertainment and communication that they can expect from a desktop computer.


“always-on” state. Finally, due to their constant use while mobile their battery power

needs are different from other mobile devices.

1.1.1 Fully-functioning Computers

The first feature that distinguishes wearable computers from other mobile devices is

the strength of its computing power. Often compared to handheld devices such as

personal digital assistants (PDA), wearable computers take mobile computing one step

further.9, 10 Thus, wearable computers, unlike traditional handhelds, are fully

functional computers that can offer as much computing power as a desktop computer.

For instance, wearable computer applications used by the military feature full color

schematics overlaid on maps of the battlefield. These types of features are far more

sophisticated than Palm Pilot’s Pocket Word program.

1.1.2 Head Mounted Displays

The second unique features used by wearable computers is their use of HMDs. One of

the most visually distinguishing factors unique to wearable computers is their use of a

HMDs instead of a small screen embedded in the device. There are two major designs

for HMDs. The first consists of eyeglasses with a small LCD display attached to (or

9 PDAs within this thesis is loosely defined as computers that can conveniently be stored in a pocket (of sufficient size) and used while the user is holding it

10 whatis?com, Handheld [website] (December 23, 2002 2002 [cited February 25 2003]).


embedded into) the lens which works by casting a floating display three feet in front of

the wearer's eyes (like MicroOptical’s SVC display used with the CharmIt– see Figure


SVC display used with the CharmIt– see Figure 1.1). 11 MicroOptical’s SVC Display with CharmIt Figure

MicroOptical’s SVC Display with CharmIt

Figure 1.1 Courtesy of Charmed Technologies

The second display used in consumer products consists of a band around the forehead

with a small screen that hangs in front of the user’s right or left eye (like the Poma –

See Figure 1.2 and Figure 1.3)


Xybernaut’s Poma Image #1 Figure 1.2 Courtesy of Xybernaut Corporation X y b e r

Xybernaut’s Poma Image #1 Figure 1.2 Courtesy of Xybernaut Corporation

Poma Image #1 Figure 1.2 Courtesy of Xybernaut Corporation X y b e r n a

Xybernauts Poma Image #2 Figure 1.3 Courtesy of Xybernaut Corporation

Video-Based Systems Vs. Optical Systems The type of HMD used determines how the image is displayed for the user and how the

user is able to view reality while wearing the system. There are two options: one, an

optical based system or two, a video based system. With optical based systems, the

user is able to view the real world directly with one or both eyes and the system

overlays computer graphics or text on top of the user’s view of the real world. Optical

see-through HMDs are worn like glasses with an optical system attached to a location

that does not interfere with visibility (usually off to the right side of the right eyeglass


lens). MicroOptical is the leading producer of this type of unobtrusive display (see

Figure 1.4 and Figure 1.5).

type of unobtrusive display (see Figure 1.4 and Figure 1.5). MicroOptical Display Image #1 Figure 1.4

MicroOptical Display Image #1 Figure 1.4 – Courtesy of MicroOptical

Display Image #1 Figure 1.4 – Courtesy of MicroOptical MicroOptical Display Image #2 Figure 1.5 -

MicroOptical Display Image #2 Figure 1.5 - Courtesy of MicroOptical


The other system used with HMDs are video-based systems where the user can

either view live video or real-world scenes which are combined with overlaid computer

graphics or text. Video based see-though displays are opaque displays that use cameras

near the eyes to present live video on the display. “Using chroma or luminance keying

techniques (keying is the electronic means of replacing a particular value -color, or

chrominance vs. brightness, or luminance- with another), the computer then fuses the

video with the virtual image(s) to create a video-based augmented reality

environment”12 All of these designs are available in either monocular (one eye) or

binocular (two eyes) configurations. The Poma is only available as an optical display

while the CharmIt can use either display.

1.1.3 Input Devices

The third feature that distinguishes wearable computers from other computing

devices is their use of unique input devices. Wearable computers, due to their mobile

nature, demand input devices that are different from the mouse and keyboard devices

used by desktop and laptop computers. The variety of input devices for wearable

computers runs the gamut of the imagination and new alternatives for data input are

being created in wearable academic labs around the world. Currently, wearable

computer systems use body-mounted keyboards, speech recognition software, hand-held

12 Starner, "Augmented Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual


keyboards (or touch screens) and chording devices (see Figure 1.6 for an example of a

chording device called the Twiddler).

for an example of a chording device called the Twiddler). The “Twiddler” Figure 1.6 In addition,

The “Twiddler”

Figure 1.6

In addition, devices such as IBM’s Intellipoint, track balls, data gloves, optical

mice, and the Twiddler are used to take the place of a traditional mouse.

Future research into input devices is focused on allowing the user to direct the

computer’s actions by thought patterns or emotional states through body-monitoring

devices based on thought patterns or heart rate. The peripherals they develop run the

gamut from the rather mundane (like a forehead sensor that can operate your computer

by movement and blinks of an eye) to the more radical (like the US Air Force Human

Engineering Division’s work on a brain-activated computer-controlled device that is

Environments." pp. 10


triggered by reading brain waves).13 Brain-wave reading input devices are not just the

stuff of fantasy. Jennifer Healey at MIT’s Media Lab has built an affective computer

that can read the biometric signals of the user and play music to suit the user’s mood and

emotional state.14 An affective system might be very beneficial for training aimed at

changing ingrained behaviors or altering unconscious reactions to stimuli that cause

stress or fear. Researchers at the University of Rochester equipped a virtual reality

helmet so that is able to recognize key brain signals (and while inside a virtual room),

users can currently turn on appliances by just wishing it so.15 Wearable research centers

are also focused on utilizing haptic devices (haptic devices allow human-machine

interaction through force and touch) to allow for input. The use of haptic devices would

provide the user a realistic experience by providing direct physical perception of digital


1.1.4 Always-On Functionality

The fourth distinguishing feature of wearable computers, which differentiates

them from other mobile devices, is that they are always-on, allowing the user to use the

13 Thomas Bass, "Dress Code," WIRED, April 1998.

14 Ibid.

15 Aries Keck, "Wishful Thinking: Controlling Your World with Brain Waves,", June 9


16 Starner, "Augmented Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual

Environments." pp. 13


product’s features while accomplishing other tasks. Computer users are accustomed to

an interaction with their computer that is initiated by their actions, and this changes that

paradigm of human computer interaction (HCI). With wearables, computing is not the

main task – interacting with the environment is; the wearable either enhances or

supports the user’s interaction with the environment through providing additional

information necessary for the task at hand. Thad Starner, Massachusetts Institute of

Technology Wearable Computing Project17 alumni and founder of Charmed

Technologies (the only wearable computing company solely focused on developing a

consumer product) cites this feature of wearable computers as the most fundamental

shift in HCI. When asked about the challenges facing the adoption of wearable

computers, Starner states, "It's possible to have interactions with your computer that you

don't initiate. That's the change that's going to be so fundamental."18 Unlike other

mobile devices that require the user to divert their attention toward the computing task,

wearable devices allow for a minimal amount of interference between the computing

task and the user. This allows a greater ability to maintain eye contact with the external

environment while conducting a computing task when one or both hands are busy.

17 MIT Wearable Computing Project at the MIT Media Laboratory was founded and maintained by

students who were interested in the intimate and everyday use of wearable computers, and emphasis was placed on augmenting the mind and senses of the user.

18 Manny Frishberg, "What to Wear: Why Not a Computer?," WIRED, October 10 2002.


1.1.5 Power supply

The final distinguishing factor for wearable computers is their need for longer

lasting batteries. Due to wearable computer’s always-on state, these systems rely on

batteries that are longer lasting than what is necessary in current mobile technologies.

Research into power supplies for wearable computers has spawned a rash of research

developments that enhance battery life. German scientists are developing synthetic

fibers that generate electricity when exposed to light and have stated that the fibers could

be woven into machine-washable clothes to create the ultimate in portable solar cells.

Academic research groups are also experimenting with technology that creates power by

capturing the friction created by walking by imbedding a device in the wearer’s shoe.

“The body is a lousy conductor surrounded by a good conductor," Post said. Holding up a shiny, specially rigged leather Nike shoe to illustrate, he explained that the 60 watts of energy generated by an average step could provide power -- and eliminate wires -- for point to point," Post said.19

Current wearable computers have limited battery life. The Poma only has three hours

of battery life and the CharmIt has twelve, but is significantly heavier because of the

longer lasting batteries, while research into longer, lightweight batteries is ongoing.

Current devices are plagued by short batter life or a significant increase in weight to

accommodate more battery power.

19 Lisa Napoli, "Wearable Computer: The User Interface Is You," The New York Times, October 14



1.2 THE HISTORY OF WEARABLE COMPUTING Computer inventors associated with MIT Media Lab’s Wearable Computing

Project developed the modern concept of wearable computers. The man who is hailed

as the father of wearable computers was always fascinated with electrical engineering

and as a teenager, began to play with computing devices to alter his reality and

perception of the world. Steven Mann initially developed his wearable computer in the

1970s as a reality and memory enhancement device.20 Mann brought his inventions to

MIT in 1991, where he became the catalyst for the University’s establishment of the

MIT Wearable Computing Laboratory. He helped foster global discussions on the topic

by proposing the first International Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

International Symposium on Wearable Computing. As a member of the advisory board

of Xybernaut, and a current faculty member at University of Toronto’s Department of

Electrical and Computer Engineering, he is still involved in enhancing the wearable

computing industry and developing new applications for wearable computers.

Mann created the most advanced wearable computer in existence, and therefore,

it is important to consider his personal wearable computer’s (the WearComp) features

and applications when analyzing which features and applications would be attractive to

the consumer market. He built the world's first covert fully functional WearComp with


display and camera concealed in ordinary eyeglasses in 1995. He has been plugged into

his advanced system almost twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week ever since.

Mann uses his wearable computer to enhance his senses and support his intellect. His

wearable inventions have undergone numerous modifications over the years, and as the

world’s oldest cyborg, his wearable equipment allows him to view the real world

through his left eye, and his right eye sees the projection of a computer screen that

displays the processed images recorded by the camera within the eyeglasses lens.21

Those processed images have been modified by Mann to filter out advertising and to

display various text notes next to objects for which he would like additional information.

His privacy block feature (which blocks or modifies advertisements) helps him limit the

number of intrusions into what he calls his humanistic property – the mental space that

surrounds him. Mann’s WearComp also has biometric feedback built into the system to

monitor his heart rate and vital signs, data he inputs into the system via a chording


All of this connectedness separates Mann from even the most innovative of

users, and he realizes that he is a bit odd.

People find me peculiar. They think it’s odd that I spend most of my waking hours wearing eight or nine Internet-connected computers sewn into my

21 As defined by Mann: “cyborg, n. a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent upon a mechanical or electronic device”


clothing and that I wear opaque wrap-around glasses day and night, inside and outdoors. 22

His work is not to be discredited however, and many of his more advanced

features are being used and modified for specific commercial applications.23

The other prominent developer of wearable computing devices is Thad Starner,

who worked with Mann in the Wearable Computing Group at MIT’s Media Lab.

Starner began wearing his computer in 1993. Starner is now a professor at Georgia

Tech in Atlanta and president of Charmed Technology, the wearable computing firm

solely focused on developing consumer wearable technology products. Starner’s

personal wearable computer is based on a pair of black-rimmed glasses that are similar

to Mann’s, however Starner’s model is an optical vs. a video-driven display

These two most prominent inventors in the field share different perspectives on

application of wearable computers. You could characterize Mann and Starner as being

on different ends of the inventor spectrum. Mann could be characterized as the idealist,

who creates technology for technology sake, and Starner is the more economically

practical inventor; creating advancements in technology to meet consumer interest and

need. Mann is fascinated with how wearable computers can filter reality and allow the

user ultimate control over his intellectual space. "Steve's [Mann] lifelong experiment

22 Steve Mann, "Cyborg Seeks Community.," Technology Review 102, no. 3 (1999). 23 For instance, like the application of wearable computers to support self-directed walking tours.


with wearable computers gives us a sort of a living metaphor for our everyday

coexistence with technology," explains Laurier's David Black, an event organizer for a

2002 lecture series (at which Mann was a speaker) at Wilfrid Laurier University. "In the

extreme nature of his cyborg self we have a glimpse or understanding of our everyday

codependency with technology. He's living five minutes in the future."24 However,

many have found Mann hard to relate to. “He approaches technology in a more

anarchistic way," says Peter Lynch, Canadian filmmaker who assisted Mann in the

making of his documentary, Cyberman.25 Starner, on the other hand, is less interested

in exploring how wearable computers can alter reality and personal psychology, and is

more interested in how it can be adapted for real world applications. Starner realizes

that wearable computing’s success lies in making it non-obtrusive in response to the

influence social interaction and fashion has on consumer interest in the product. “The

goal,” says Starner, “is to have the computer disappear into your clothes so that no one

knows you have it.”26

24 Steven Mann, Cyborg: ([cited February 25 2003]); available from

25 Jennifer Martin, "Speakers Series Lecture Examines Cyborgs and Cyber Pop" (paper presented at the

Laurier Communications Studies Speakers Series, Wilfrid Laurier University, March 27, 2002 2002).

26 Stefan Theil, "Love Those Wearables!," Newsweek (2001).


1.3 WEARABLE COMPUTING INDUSTRY & CONSUMER PRODUCTS Both inventors provided intellectual support for wearable computer’s entrance

into the defense, commercial and retail industries. They have been used for a range of

applications including managing ticket theft at sporting events, and advanced check-in at

high-end hotels. There are only two companies, however, that sell wearable computing

products for consumers. They are Xybernaut Corporation (XYBR) founded in 1990 out

of Fairfax, VA and Charmed Technology founded in 2002 out of Santa Monica, CA.

Not surprisingly, Mann & Starner provided the intellectual spark behind both companies

(Mann for Xybernaut and Starner for Charmed).27 The companies have taken different

approaches to the market with Xybernaut collaborating with Hitachi to product a

simplified wearable product with few applications called the Poma at a price point of

$1500 a unit. Charmed Technology produces and sells the CharmIt a true-fully-

functioning computer on its own at a price point of over $3,500.28

Partially due to its early relationship with Mann, its client relationship with the

U.S. Department of Defense, and supported by its vast number of intellectual patents,

Xybernaut has become the largest of wearable computer firms. With offices in Asia,

Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and revenues of $9.5 million in 2000, Xybernaut

27 Charmed Technology’s sales are in the $500,000 to $1 million range, and Xybernaut’s sales are $10- $20 million range with all of its subsidiaries.

See Appendix F for detailed product information about the CharmIt and Poma.


has been able to apply its research, development, and commercialization of wearable

technology to provide mobile computing solutions to clients around the world. In

November 2001, Xybernaut announced a manufacturing-and-marketing deal with IBM

which Xybernaut officials expected would help them sell the strap-on computers to

consumers. “The consumer market never really appeared, and, while its cash

dwindled, Xybernaut couldn't break out of the red. It lost $26.6 million (37 cents per

share) on $10 million in revenue in 2002. It had lost even more, $32.2 million (63

cents) on $9.8 million in revenue, in 2001.”29 In April 2003, Xybernaut announced

that it had backed out of the deal, had plans to cut the cost of its product by 20% and

has turned to IBM Global Finance for a line of credit in exchange for a security

interest in its assets. Clearly, a victim of the larger economic climate in the technology

industry in 2003, Xybernaut is still the company best positioned to develop an

enhanced consumer product.

Xybernaut, as the market leader, is better positioned to develop and market a

consumer wearable device than Charmed Technology; though Charmed is more focused

on the consumer market (this is shown by the fact that they only develop and sell a

consumer wearable products). Ultimately, consumers will only be interested in wearable

29 Ellen McCarthy, "Xybernaut Calls Off $50 Million Ibm Deal,", April 9 2003.


computers if they are offered at a price that they find attractive, and Xybernaut is the

only company that (through its existing partnerships) could produce the units in

sufficient volume to drop the price within a range consumers can handle.

1.4 CURRENT CONSUMER WEARABLE COMPUTING APPLICATIONS The key to developing a marketing strategy for products like the Poma rests in

identifying and communicating how the product fits a distinct consumer need or can

accomplish a current consumer task in a more efficient manner. The environment that

existed within the high tech industry of being able to sell a technology solely on its cool

factor is long gone. Consumers and corporations alike are only interested in purchasing

technology when the technology fills a clear need and has an understandable use that is

either personally enhancing or is able to increase worker’s efficiency. Whereas the cool

factor is the main draw for the innovator market, it is not enough of a rationale for the

early consumer market to purchase and try these products.

Unfortunately for wearable computers, whereas the use for the product are

limitless, a killer app which would help catapult the product from the halls of academic

institutions to the consumer market has not yet been identified.30 Mark Spitzer, CEO of

MicroOptical agrees that a killer application must be identified for successful adoption.

30 Killer app is a slang contraction of killer application. A killer application is a successful and popular software application (often written by a third party), that is generally perceived to be superior in function or that employs the latest and most impressive techniques.


People are still in the 'It's cool, but what does it do?' phase. We need an application for consumers, perhaps something that evolves out of communication devices like cell phones and email and pagers. That's the missing piece right


Similarly, the corporate applications for wearable computers (like assembly lines

where the product is allowing for hands-free data input) do not directly translate into an

application that fills a distinct consumer need.

Current consumer wearable computers offer the same applications that are used

with a desktop computer (Microsoft Office applications, web browsers, etc) only while

mobile. Neither consumer product offers applications that use and enhance the

product’s mobile capabilities.


There are a variety of computing features that currently are not offered by data

telephony or wireless laptop technologies that could be offered by wearable computers.

These features include:

Usable while portable: wearable computers can be used while walking or moving around

Hands-free: Many wearables emphasize the hands-free aspect relying on speech input and heads-up display or voice input. Other wearables use chording keyboards, dials, optical joysticks etc to minimize the use of the user’s hands by typing.

31 "Booting up Something More Comfortable," Wired Magazine, October 14 1997.


Sensors: Wearables can have a variety of informational centers so that the product can provide just-in-time information without interrupting the user like GPS, wireless communications, cameras, or microphones.

Many of the above features have encouraged the development of innovative

applications in academic research labs that, while not currently offered by consumer

wearables, might be of interest to consumers. For instance, the video-based models

offer applications that offer the user the ability to share experiences via video while

mobile, the ability to have the computing system aid in recognition, and the ability to

view customized, GPS-driven information while mobile.


Sharing Experiences via Video

The first unique application that may be of interest to consumers is sharing

experiences via video while mobile. Using the video display to communicate with

others and alter the user’s perspective on reality is a feature that Mann uses daily:

Every morning I decide how I will see the world that day. Sometimes I give myself eyes in the back of my head. Other days I add a sixth sense, such as the ability to feel objects at a distance…I see some items as hyper-objects that I can click on and bring to life. I can choose stroboscopic vision to freeze the motion of rotating automobile tires and see how many bolts are on the wheels of a car going over 60 miles per hour, as if it was motionless…. I can block out the view of particular objects – sparing me the distraction, for example, of the vast sea of advertising around me…. While I am grocery shopping, my wife – who may be at home or in her office - sees exactly what I see and helps me pick out


vegetables…. she can imprint images into my retina while she is seeing what I


Whether or not this feature is of interest to consumers is hard to predict without

field trials. However, the mobile industry is currently marketing products to user that

will allow them to share life experiences while mobile using camera phones.

The key to the power of mobiles -- is that they liberate people from their desktop telephones and computers, moving the action out to that much larger portion of life that encompasses wherever and whenever humans roam.33

Whereas mobile communications are now commonplace among consumers,

consumer data collection will provide a more accurate indication of whether or not this

feature appeals to consumers.

1.5.2 Remembrance Agents

The wearable computer application that is unique and suited to this technology is

the development of augmented memory systems. Palm’s history has shown that users

are interested in conducting specific tasks while mobile, like using day-planners, address

books and note taking options. However, these types of memory agents do not work in

the same way as users are accustomed to remembering information. “Hierarchical

directories or structured data such as calendar programs help only if the data itself is

32 Mann, "Cyborg Seeks Community "

33 Joel Garreau, "Cell Biology: Like the Bee, This Evolving Species Buzzes and Swarms," The

Washington Post, July 31, 2002 2002.


very structured and break down whenever a file or query doesn’t fit into the pre-

designed structure.”34 The wearable computer’s Remembrance Agent is a program that

continually runs in the background, watches the user’s actions and displays one-line

summaries of note-files, old email, papers and other textual information that might be

relevant to the user’s current context. The example used most often imagines a user

taking notes at conference; the remembrance agent suggests relevant documents.

Additionally, the always-on feature that wearables offer does not require the user to

make a suggestion in order to receive the information.

One common practice among the wearable users at conferences is to type in the name of every person met while shaking hands. There have been times when the remembrance agent has reminded the wearer that the person whose name was entered was actually been met before, and has suggested the notes taken from the previous conversation.35

Assistance in remembering items and names seem like a universal social need,

and this feature may prove to be the “killer app” if partnered with truly ubiquitous

hardware. However, only consumer data collection and field trials will reveal if

consumers are truly interested.

34 Bradley J. Rhodes, "A Wearable Remembrance Agent: A System for Augmented Memory," Personal

Technologies Special Issue on Wearable Computing, no. 1 (1997). pp. 2

35 Ibid. pp. 3


1.5.3 GPS Driven Information

The third application that is being tested in academic labs and may be of interest

to consumers I the display of GPS supported information while mobile. Wearable

computers can provide the user with augmented information about their environment

that can include, GPS driven, context sensitive information and displays. A combination

of these features creates interesting real-world applications. For example, the Deep Map

project funded by the Klaus-Tschira-Stiftung is focused on using wearable computers as

mobile tour guides for museums and city tours.36 With embedded GPS technology, the

devices allow visitors to gain information about the object or building in front of them

based on their geographical position. With this feature, it is potentially possible for

visitors to see an overlay of what the building looked like in the 1920s on top of the

current architecture.37

Unfortunately, consumer use of GPS for positioning purposes has three

shortcomings. First, the accuracy of stand-alone commercially available GPS receivers

is limited to 20 meters or so. Second, it is possible to lose satellite visibilities when

36 The coalition of companies involved in the research include: European Media Laboratory in

cooperation with the University of Heidelberg, Department of Geography and Department of Computational Logistics; Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics in Darmstadt: Interactive Systems Labs at the University of Karlsruhe and at CMU in Pittsburgh, Institute of Photogrammetry, University of Stuttgart, University of Mannheim, Technische Informatik, Deutsches Forschungszentrum fúr Kunstliche Intelligenz (DFKI).

37 Jim Nash, "Wiring the Jet Set," WIRED, October 1997.


nearby buildings or dense foliage blocks a substantial part of the sky and the signal.

Signal loss is most noticeable in the downtown areas of moderate to large cities where a

concentration of tall buildings at times occludes much of the sky from street-level

location. Third, distortion is created by reflections of the GPS signal from nearby

structures. 38

1.5.4 Intersection with Smart Fabrics

There are other technologies in development that may be able to provide benefits

and advanced features for wearable computers. The hardware used for input devices

and the CPU pieces of the wearable systems are heavy, bulky, and not aesthetically

pleasing. Developing hardware solutions that address these issues has spawned a

division of wearable computer research focused primarily on developing lightweight

devices that are easy to wear (or in some cases) actually embedded into the user’s

clothing. Industry analyst, Tim Shea, has been widely quoted as predicting that the

future of wearable computers will be intimately linked to the development of computing

systems that are woven into fabrics (referred to as e-textiles or smart


Media Lab alumni and President of International Fashion Machines, Maggie Orth is

dedicated to the development of smart fabric “The tactile and material properties of

what people wear are important to them, and people are reluctant to have wires and hard

38 Fundamentals of Wearable Computers and Augmented Reality, ed. Woodrow Barfield & Thomas


plastic cases against their bodies.”39 Orth and the other fledgling corporations that have

stimulated interest in the development of smart fabrics and have promoted the

perception that when worn on the body, consumers are looking for a device that is


Orth’s smart clothing consists of using silk organza threads (similar to the

metallic yarn that has been used for years for decorative purposes in clothing

manufacturing) and metallic yarn (which is prepared similar to cloth-core telephone

wire) to create computing devices that are embedded or partially made out of cloth. The

yarn is embroidered into cloth by using gripper snaps as the connectors between the

fabric and electronics. “Since the snap pierces the yarn it creates a surprisingly robust

electrical contact. It also provides a good surface to solder to. In this way subsystems

can be easily snapped into clothing or removed for washing.”41

While this low-tech solution to a high-tech problem seems far-fetched, the

technology works and initial consumer tests with wearable keyboards have initially been

Caudell (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2001). pp. 443

39 E. Rehmi Post & Maggie Orth, "Smart Fabric, or Washable Computing" (paper presented at the First

IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers, Cambridge, MA, 1997).

40 Steve Mann Woodrow Barfield, Kevin Baird, Francine Gemperle, Chris Kasabach, John Stivoric,

Malcolm Bauer, Richard Martin, Gilsoo Cho., "Computational Clothing and Accessories," in

Fundamentals of Wearable Computing. pp. 477

41 Orth, "Smart Fabric, or Washable Computing". pp. 3


positive. In one test (Orth presented the results at the First IEEE International

Symposium on Wearable Computers), 50 denim jackets were embroidered with a

keyboard pattern. Some of the jackets were equipped with miniature MIDI synthesizers

that were controlled by the keypad. She presented that, “The responsiveness of the

keyboard to touch and timing were found by several users to be excellent.”42

Since that

presentation, smart fabrics have found their way into the consumer market in other

forms. For example, during the Christmas 2001 season, Foster-Miller Inc., Polartec, and

Land’s End introduced the retail market to heated blankets made of four percent metallic

fiber that created the embedding circuitry. The blankets were cozy without any clunky,

uncomfortable wires.43 Many major clothing manufacturers (like Levi Strauss and

Nike) and high technology firms (like IBM and Philips) have seen the benefit of being

involved in smart fabric research.

Making other parts of the computing device flexible and embedded in cloth has

engaged the attention of Xerox’s Research Center of Canada, which has also announced

the development of a printed organic electronic or POE transistors. These transistors are

reliable enough to replace the silicon integrated circuits that make LCDs so expensive.

“POE circuits, which can be sprayed on flexible plastic sheets, may be the breakthrough

42 Ibid. pp. 4

43 Bob Sullivan, "Finally in Fashion?," MSNBC, October 9 2002.


technology that makes gadgets like roll-up TV screens and truly paper-thin electronic

paper feasible.”44

Most of this technology is still in the testing phases. Smart fabrics are still unable to

make every piece of computer hardware soft enough to blend with cloth and making

the embedded wires truly soft enough to wear. There are still pieces of hardware that

will be stiff and will need to be sewn into an invisible pocket or accommodated in

some other way.

There are however going to be parts of wearable computers (power supplies for example) that are not going to be easily made of fabric. These parts will always be solid forms, but they need to be plastic bricks.45

Researchers attending a Materials Research Society meeting admitted that

current e-textiles are too brittle to wear.46 Smart fabric is limited in its ability to

contribute to some of the challenges of wearable computing features beyond being able

to make most the hardware invisible or embedded in cloth. Smart fabric research does

not directly propose solutions for improvements in input devices or display

improvements. Therefore, contrary to industry hype, beyond consumer interest in the

44 Mark Baard, "E-Fabrics Still Too Stiff to Wear," WIRED, December 5 2002.

45 Woodrow Barfield, "Computational Clothing and Accessories." pp. 487

46 Baard, "E-Fabrics Still Too Stiff to Wear."


novelty of the product, the impact smart fabrics will have on wearable computer

research is limited.

1.5.5 Intersection with NanoTechnology

Advances in nanotechnology will provide yet unknown advancements in

wearable computers. Some of the envisioned benefits include lighter batteries, unique

ways to generate power, smaller CPUs, and different display options. “Three to four

years from now we’ll be able to construct a 16,000-byte memory which will only be a

few microns in size – that’s one-hundredth the size of a human hair,” commented Philip

Kuekes, senior scientist and computer architect in Quantum Science Research at

Hewlett-Packard laboratories. “We’re going 100 times smaller than what’s out there

now. It will be small enough to fit in the fibers of your shirt.”47 Alex Lightman from

Charmed Technologies agrees and predicts, “…. we firmly believe that we will have

molecular-based wearable computing that can store gigabits of information all on Star

Trek-like communication badge, that in turn is connected through a broadband

communications link to the rest of the world filled with billions of similar devices.”48

However, unless the nanotechnology research results in a contact lens display, issues of

47 Lizette Wilson, "Wearable Tech: Tiny Microchips and Futuristic Materials Inspire Designers to

Create Electronics You Can Really Get Into," San Francisco Business Times, November, 1-7 2002.

48 Alex Lightman, Brave New Unwired World: The Digital Big Bang and the Infinite Internet (New

York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002). pp. 12


display and input will still remain one of wearable computer’s largest obstacles for

adoption, and like smart fabrics, nanotechnology’s level of impact on wearable

computers’ real challenge to adoption will be limited.


Chapter 2: Product Adoption Theory

There is an academic field of study that follows new product development and

marketing and focuses on creating models, defining universal characteristics behind

consumer adoption of new technologies, and creating formulas for predicting diffusion

rates for new innovations. 49,50. The work of product adoption researchers Everett

Rogers and Geoffrey Moore are both widely used for their outline of the stages of the

decision making process, their categorization of consumers into groups depending upon

their rate of adoption of new innovations, and their definition of attributes and other

factors that impact product adoption. This chapter will provide an overview of their

work as well as other models and methodologies used to define potential audience

segments that are prone to adopt new technologies, and will assess the strengths and

challenges inherent within a product that could inhibit its adoption. This chapter will

also look at the philosophical premise behind the models used to predict technology

adoption and will discuss their strengths and weaknesses. This chapter will also look at

models of consumer behavior to highlight the consumer motivators and attitudes that

will affect adoption. Finally, this chapter will outline the models and methodologies

49 Diffusion is defined as the process by which an innovation is adopted and gains acceptance by

members of a certain community.

50 Innovation within this thesis refers to the invention of new technologies, products and production

processes, through the successful exploitation of ideas.

most applicable to predicting the adopter market for wearable computer products, and

defining the product strengths and weaknesses and the market challenges and

opportunities that could accelerate or hinder its adoption.

2 Product Adoption and Diffusion Theories Diffusion research is the philosophical foundation behind the development of

marketing positioning strategies that use psychographics segmentation profiles to

identify the most receptive target markets for a particular innovation or product.

Diffusion research, in its simplest form, investigates how factors such as the product

itself, how information about the product is disseminated, the nature of the social system

to which the product is introduced and a multitude of other factors that interact to

facilitate or impede the adoption of a specific product among members of a particular

adopter group.51

2.1 THE PURCHASING DECISION PROCESS Roger has written the seminal work on innovation adoption and diffusion. His

work outlines five factors that influence the rate of an innovation’s adoption. They

include: the perceived attributes of the innovation, the number of people involved in the

adoption decision (individual vs. an organization), the communication channels used to

51 Leyla Namiranian & Renee Hopkins, "Is There Such a Thing as ‘Early Adopters Fatigue’?." pp. 199

promote the innovation, the nature of the social system into which the product is adopted

and the extent of the change agent’s promotional efforts.52 The Gartner Group

expanded his model and combined it with a range of theories developed by academic

and business writers’ focus on technology adoption. Those theories include the work of

Geoffrey Moore and his corporate technology adoption theory outlined in Crossing the

Chasm; Fred Davis’s individual technology adoption theory in his Technology

Acceptance Modeling work; and Clayton Christensen’s examination of disruptive

technology’s affect on consumer behavior in The Innovator’s Dilemma but with a

singular focus on consumer adoption of new technology. Their Customer Adoption

Roadmap looks at:

Consumer attitudes and behaviors toward the technology.

Market conditions, including product pricing, competition, and the maturity of the business structure of participating companies.

Accelerators and inhibitors likely to affect the rate of the adoption moving to the next stage.

Challenges and opportunities for the industries that participate in the product development.

Opportunities for non-technology marketers to take advantage of consumer use of technologies as a service or product platform.53

52 Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, Fourth ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1995). pp. 207

53 Richard Trinker & Brian Smith, "Consumer Technology Adoption Roadmap," Gartner G2 (2002). pp. 5-6

Garner Group’s comprehensive guide will be modified for use within this thesis

– by combining various factors of the most widely used models within a larger context.

2.1.1 Stages of Decision Making

The decision to purchase a new technology is a complex individual decision. It is

impacted by a variety of factors including the consumer’s personal characteristics and

background, the amount of education a consumer has about the product, and the amount

of influence from the consumer’s interpersonal social network. Rogers has defined a

series of stages that an individual experiences in the adoption process. According to

Rogers, the individual passes through five stages:

First knowledge of an innovation

Forming an attitude toward the innovation

Decision to adopt or reject the innovation

Implementation of the new idea and

Confirmation of this decision. 54

At each point in the decision-making stage continuum the consumer’s attitudes

and beliefs are affected by a variety of messages coming from mass media, personal

54 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 161

information gathering, the consumer’s interpersonal network, and product change


2.2 CATEGORIES OF ADOPTERS Consumers do not universally adopt new technology products when they are

introduced into the consumer market. There is one distinct difference between

consumer groups based on their speed to adopt a product once it reaches the market.

Based upon consumers’ individual personalities, socioeconomic status, and their attitude

toward technology they approach purchase and the use of technology differently.56 For

this reason, technology adoption and diffusion literature divides consumers into different

groups depending upon the amount of time it takes them from their first knowledge of a

technology to their successful adoption of the technology. Those groups are Innovators,

Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.57 Based on his research,

Rogers suggests that the percentages of adopters in the consumer market for each

category are as follows (see Figure 2.1):

Innovators – 2.5%

Early Adopters – 13.5%

55 The idea of change agents is based on the hypothesis that every successful idea is first embraced by a

small group of influencers before it spreads to the masses. Such influencers are early adopters, are

strongly connected to their communities, and are naturally vocal and credible.

56 Technology has two components: a hardware aspect and a software aspect.

57 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations.

Early Majority – 34%

Late Majority – 34%

Laggards – 16%

– 34% • Late Majority – 34% • Laggards – 16% Figure 2.1 Courtesy of Technology

Figure 2.1

Courtesy of Technology Marketing Group, Inc.58

58 Technology Marketing Group Inc., Ideas: Using the Adoption-Diffusion Model to

Anticipate Customers' Purchase Decisions [website] (Technology Marketing Group Inc., [cited February 10, 2003 2003]); available from

2.2.1 Innovators

Innovators are the first 2.5% who adopt a new technology and are interested in

exploring new, untested concepts and products, often willing to absorb high costs and

uncertainties for the reward of being first to adopt new technologies.59

2.2.2 Early Adopters

Early Adopters are the next 13.5% to adopt a product. They find it easy to

imagine, understand, and appreciate the benefits of a new technology, and are apt at

relating the potential benefits to their other concerns. The highest numbers of “opinion

leaders” are found among the early adopters. This group does not rely on well-

established references to make their buying decisions and instead prefer to rely on their

own intuition and vision.60

2.2.3 Early Majority

Early Majority is defined as the next 34% to adopt a product and is characterized

as deliberate and practical. They want to see reviews from well-established references

before buying. They need reassurance that the new technology is stable before


59 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 263-264

60 Geoffrey Moore, Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream

Customers (New York, NY: HarperBusiness, 1991), Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. Pp. 12.

61 Ibid.

2.2.4 Late Majority

Late Majority represents the next 34% to adopt a product. They are skeptical

about innovations and often only adopt a product because of the peer pressure from all

those who have already adopted. They do not tolerate uncertainty about a product well

and do not have the financial resources to switch products if the first does not meet their


2.2.5 Laggards

Laggards make up the final 16% to adopt. These consumers are often

characterized as “traditionalists” as well as “isolationists.” They often are suspicious of

new technologies, and are often least able to afford any technologies that are not certain

to succeed.63

2.2.6 Early Market vs. Mainstream Market

Innovators and Early Adopters generally have similar economic and social

characteristics. Early adopters have a shorter innovation-decision period (the time span

between learning about an innovation and deciding to purchase/adopt the product)

because they learn about the product earlier due to their interpersonal networks, and they

require fewer months or years to move from knowledge about the product to decision.

62 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. Pp. 265.

63 Ibid. pp. 265.

Generally, they have more formal education, come from a higher socioeconomic status,

and more exposed to mass media communication, have a high level of interaction with

social change agents, and socially active within their interpersonal network and are more

cosmopolitan.64 Due to their similarities, they are often lumped together as a single


Geoffrey Moore redefined Roger’s adopter categories to combine Innovators

and Early Adopters into one group The Early Market, and Early Majority and Late

Majority into a second group (the Mainstream Market). His work on the chasm

examines the gap in attitudes and behaviors that exists between the Early Market and

Mainstream Market discusses the different strategies needed to market to each group.

(See Figure 2.2) He goes on to predict that firms who do not take into account those

differences in communications strategies when marketing products often do not

successfully breach the chasm between early market adoption of the product to late

market adoption and their products fail to reach mass diffusion.

64 Ibid. pp. 169

Chasm Between Early Adopters and Mainstream Market Figure 2.2 Courtesy of Sage Research 65 Innovations
Chasm Between Early Adopters and Mainstream Market Figure 2.2 Courtesy of Sage Research 65 Innovations

Chasm Between Early Adopters and Mainstream Market

Figure 2.2 Courtesy of Sage Research 65

Innovations don’t just slide effortlessly from one group to the next and all kinds

of high tech products fail because the companies that make them can’t find a way to

transform an idea that makes perfect sense to an Early Adopter into one that makes

perfect sense for a member of the Early Majority. This period of the adoption process is

critical to new product adoption. “The part of the diffusion process between 10%

adoption to 20% adoption is at the heart of the new product success. Before this range,

there is no guarantee that a critical mass of adoption will be reached; beyond this range,

it is often impossible to stop the diffusion even if one wished to do so.” 66

2.3 FACTORS THAT IMPACT RATE OF ADOPTION Product adoption that is partially driven by intrinsic product features influences

the consumer’s decision-making process. Rogers discovered that there is a 49% to 87%

variance in the rate of adoption, which can be explained by the following five attributes:

relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability.67

2.3.1 Relative Advantage

Relative Advantage is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better

than the idea it supersedes.

2.3.2 Compatibility

Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being

consistent with existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters.

Compatibility helps the individual give meaning to the new idea so it can regard the

product as familiar and reduce cognitive dissonance.

65 Sage Research, Technology Adoption Research [website] (Sage Research, [cited February 18 2003]);

available from

66 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. Pp. 259

67 Ibid. pp. 206

2.3.3 Complexity

Complexity is the degree to which a consumer perceives an innovation as

difficult to understand and use. Rogers suggests that an increased perception of product

complexity relates negatively toward its rate of adoption. Products that do not require

consumers to change their behaviors and patterned ways of conducting a task are faster

to be adopted than products that have a high learning curve.

2.3.4 Trialability

Trialability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a

limited basis. Products which allow a consumer to “try them out” before purchasing

reduce the consumer’s sense of uncertainty and risk about the product and accelerate the

adoption process.

2.3.5 Observability

Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to

others. Products that consumers can see being used increase the amount of exposure a

consumer has to a product and speeds up the rate of adoption. For example, viewing

people walk down the street using Sony’s Walkman product helped to reduce consumer

uncertainty and encouraged the consumer to purchase and try the product. These five

attributes (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trailabilty, and observability)

are guidelines for the types of features that influence product adoption rates. By

modifying these attributes and including additional significant attributes, it is possible to

create a model that can be applied to wearable computers.

2.3.6 Consumer Valued Attributes

The five valued attributes described above might not be the most important

perceived characteristics for a particular set of respondents. For example, in new

clothing fashions, the social prestige that the product conveys for the consumer is one of

the most visible benefits that the consumer receives; and yet social prestige is not

mentioned in Roger’s model.68 It is important to ask consumers about what benefits

they perceive they will receive from the product, and to incorporate those benefits into

market messages.

Often features that provide the most benefit (like social prestige) are discovered

through consumer surveys, focus groups, and daily use. For instance, Sage Research

conducted a survey of enterprise IT decision-makers on IP telephony and found: “-

beyond cost-savings - one of the most compelling benefits of this technology category

was the graphical user interface (GUI). Collecting consumer valued attributes,

therefore, is an essential tool to discover the messaging points that will have the most

impact with consumers.

68 Ibid. pp. 214 (Rogers)

The value of social prestige plays a larger role in product promotion and

adoption. This concept is outlined in Malcolm’s Tipping Point, which focuses on a

point of sudden change that suddenly tips the market toward mass adoption. The three

other rules the law of the few (in a given process or system some people matter more

than others), the Stickiness Factor (which says there are specific ways of making a

contagious message memorable), and the Power of Context (human beings are a lot

more sensitive to their environment than they may seem).69 Social prestige played a key

role in cell phone adoption. During the early days of cellular use within the U.S., cell

phone prices and services were so costly that it seems as though social prestige was one

of the most important consumer benefits. Early product placement, advertising and

marketing efforts played off that perception by installing cell phone in high-end cars.70

2.4 CRITICISM OF ADOPTION AND DIFFUSION MODELS There are various flaws in Roger’s Diffusion Model that should be addressed

when applying this model to the adoption of wearable computers. First, Roger’s model

is applied to the adoption of any innovation regardless of the product or technology.

Second, his model does not account for the time that an adoption process may take.

69 Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (Boston: Little,

Brown and Company, 2002).

70 Jr. James B. Murray, Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America

(Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2001).

Third, the total number of innovators and early adopters that ultimately adopt the

technology cannot be predicted and can only be determined after the innovation has

been adopted, or when the adoption cycle is complete. His model therefore, gives us no

clear-cut way to define who the early adopters are for a particular technology – like

wearable computers - while the adoption of the technology is still in progress. The

theory also does not allow us to predict the length of time the adoption process will take,

and does not account for various other market factors that will influence rates of


2.5 THEORIES OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR There are varieties of personal psychological factors that affect a consumer’s

purchasing decision. Marketers need to understand the background that the consumer

brings to the purchasing decision and the decision-making processes that are used. The

consumer’s background encompasses social, cultural, personal, and psychological


The first factor that influences consumer decision-making is the consumer’s

relationship with and opinions of their peer group, family, social role and status.72

71 Hopkins, "Is There Such a Thing as

‘Early Adopters Fatigue’?." pp. 202.

72 Colin Gilligan and David Pearson Richard Wilson, Strategic Marketing Management: Planning,

Implementation and Control (Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann, Ltd., 1992). pp. 105

Especially with technology purchases, recommendations from trusted friends are one of

the largest influences in consumer purchases.73 The second factor is the influence of

culture and how it affects a consumer’s purchasing decision. The third major factor

influencing consumer decision-making is the consumer’s personal characteristics

including: age and life-stage, occupation, economic circumstance, lifestyle and

personality. Marketers often use these characteristics to segment markets for directed

advertising. The final factor influencing consumer decision-making (and the factor that

directly speaks to consumer’s attitudes and feelings toward particular products) is

psychological factors. These include the issues that motivate a consumer’s interest, as

the perception that the consumer has about the product, and the consumer’s past

knowledge and pre-established beliefs about the product.



Unraveling and analyzing consumer motivation involves understanding the

consumer’s biogenic needs, which are physiological (hunger, thirst and discomfort) and

psychogenic needs (need for esteem, recognition or belonging). When these needs

become sufficiently intense, they create a motivation to reduce the tension until the need

is less pronounced. The research about this phenomenon has engaged scholars for the

past 100 years and is the foundation upon which theories of human motivation have

73 See the Communication Channel section, pp. 72.

been built. The most familiar human motivation theories are from the works of

Marshall, Freud, Veblen, Herzberg and Maslow.74

Whereas the Marshallian model is based on the idea that a person’s behavior is

inherently rational and motivated by economic factors, most of the developed models

are based on psychological premises. Freud’s work suggests that psychological factors

that influence behavior are unconscious. Ernest Dichter took Freud’s theories and

developed a series of techniques called motivational research, which attempted to

uncover consumer’s deepest motivations. Veblen developed a social-psychological

interpretations of behavior which highlighted that some of consumer’s motivations are

driven by need for prestige or social standing and his theory forced research about

consumer motivations to consider the affect of social relationships on consumer decision


Herzberg developed the Two Factor Theory of motivation that distinguishes

between satisifiers (factors that create satisfaction) and dissatisfiers (factors that create

dissatisfaction) and proposed that consumer decision-making was a balance of those two

factors. In some ways the most well known, Maslow developed a theory of motivation,

which is explained as a hierarchy of needs. The needs he outlined (in order from most

important and lowest level of need to least important and highest level of need) are:

74 Richard Wilson, Strategic Marketing Management: Planning, Implementation and Control. pp.105

Psychological needs (hunger and thirst)

Safety needs (protection and security)

Social needs (a sense of love and belonging)

Esteem needs (self-esteem, recognition by others, status)

Self-actualization needs (self-development and realization).

Creating a Need for the Product Whether based on economic, psychological, or social psychological

interpretation, consumer motivation toward purchasing products is driven by a sense of

need that is filled by the products purported services and uses. However, often products

are developed based on technological advancements and not directly, as a solution to a

consumer needs. Wearable computers are that type of product. When the product’s

development is based on technological advancement, the corporate marketing

department is responsible for creating the need in the consumer’s consciousness that

leads to a purchasing decision. This type of needs marketing involves promoting a

product or service that nobody asked for (and often could not even conceive of). This

has been successfully executed in relation to marketing such products as Sony’s

Walkman, Betamax, 3-½ inch disk, and Palm’s PDA products.75

75 However, firms must be careful in creating and marketing technology for a technology sake as was displayed during the dot com bust over the last few years.

Palm strategically created a consumer need for the product by taking technology

advancements and refocusing the development to focus on consumer interest basing it

on four values:

Low Price $299

Small Size- small enough to fit into comfortably into a man’s shirt pocket

Simplicity –easy to user for average consumer

Synchronization with the PC –accessory to the PC

By working to make the product compatible with desktops and focusing on

making it simple to operate, they alleviated some of the concerns about the challenges of

learning a new computing product (Roger’s compatibility). Palm then worked to

increase the observability of the product through a guerilla marketing strategy that relied

heavily on partnerships with industry analysts, prominent trade shows, and mass media

spots. They were able to demo the product on Good Morning America and at the U.S.

Robotics Booth (their early partner) at the PC Expo in New York City.76 Their most

successful strategy however (and one that was mimicked by Xybernaut in its early

attempts to introduce its MA V product) was to allow executives that were attending the

Gartner Group’s symposium in October of 1996 to use Palm Pilots to track their

conference schedules. Executives gave the Palm staff a credit card number to demo the

76 Andrea Butter and David Pogue, Piloting Palm: The inside Story of Palm, Handspring, and the Birth of the Billion-Dollar Handheld Industry (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002). pp. 142, 153

Palm Pilot, and if they decided to keep the product, they were charged half the price. At

the end of the conference, 2,500 Palm Pilots ended up in the hands of executives.77 The

result of Palm’s focus on modifying technology advances to fill unmet consumer need

for functionality and usability combined with its marketing strategy made it the fastest

technology product adoption in history. As Donna Dubinsky, director of Palm

marketing at the time recollects, “One million Palm Pilots had been sold in 18 months.

Palm’s little invention had been accepted faster than VCRs, cell phones, TVs, or almost

any other consumer electronic product.”78



Three aspects of the perception process affect an individual’s perception of the

same object: selective attention, selective distortion, and selective retention. Because of

the large number of stimuli bombarding a consumer per day, consumer attention is

limited toward new information and their mental attention is limited. Even when the

message does reach consumers, the consumer’s preconceived notions often distort the

message. The message is far more likely to be distorted to confirm to a consumer’s

existing beliefs than to be heard without distortion if they are opposing a consumer’s

77 The MA V product is Xybernaut’s commercial product which is more expensive and significantly

heavier than the Poma.

78 Pogue, Piloting Palm: The inside Story of Palm, Handspring, and the Birth of the Billion-Dollar

Handheld Industry. pp. 197

beliefs.79 In the 1960s various efforts were made to integrate a variety of theories,

research findings and concepts into a general framework that highlights the

psychological state of the consumer before, during and after the purchase in an attempt

to discover the key to grabbing and holding consumer attention.80

Processing Information about the Innovation The consumer purchasing decision process is an attempt by an individual to

reduce uncertainty by seeking and processing new information about the innovation.

The individual needs to understand the concept of the innovation, its use, and be able to

apply personal meaning to the innovation. Rogers identifies questions like “What is the

innovation?” “How does it work?” and “Why does it work?” that need to be

successfully answered within the marketing and launch strategy of an innovation for a

product’s adoption.81 To that list, one could add questions of quality like “Will this

last?” “Am I getting quality functions for my price?” as essential questions that need to

be answered for technology products.

The Communication Channel The communication channel used to educate consumers about an innovation also

affects the rate of adoption. Innovation diffusion researchers like Brown and Pieters

79 Richard Wilson, Strategic Marketing Management: Planning, Implementation and Control. pp. 110

80 The principle researchers during that period were Nicosia, Engel, Kollat and Blackwell, and Sheth.

81 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 165

argue that, due to the high amount of uncertainty about new technology products, mass

media channels are not as effective for complex technology products where a variety of

factors need to be considered during the innovation decision process.82 Interpersonal

communication channels are much more effective for that type of decision process.

Mass media marketing for a new innovation is most effective when the goal is to reach a

large audience quickly, create and spread knowledge about a product, and encourage

consumers to change their weakly-held attitudes and beliefs (all in an attempt to increase

observability). Interpersonal communication is much more effective in persuading

consumers with strong attitudes or when the product complexity requires more time to

educate the consumer about the product features.

Role of Change Agents The role of change agents in the product education process is essential and in

many of the adopter groups it is the main medium through which the consumer learns

about and makes decisions to adopt a product. Involving change agents during the

promotional effort plays upon the psychological human tendency to reduce cognitive

dissonance by surrounding oneself with concepts and people that are similar. It is easier

to receive new information from a trusted, familiar source than from an unknown,

unverified source of information. Many diffusion scholars believe that the

82 J.D. Pieters, "The Marketing of High Technology Production in the Technological Environment,"

predisposition of individual’s influences their behavior toward communication messages

and the effect that such messages are likely to have. “Individuals tend to expose

themselves to ideas that are in accordance with their interests, needs, and existing

attitudes. Individuals consciously or unconsciously avoid messages that are in conflict

with their predispositions.”83 However, it is possible to develop an individual’s interest

in a new concept when it comes from a peer source. Especially with technology

adoption, where the majority of hardware and software purchases are made due to

interpersonal recommendations, marketing strategies that utilize change agents are

essential. Based on Roger’s characterization, early adopters rely on information from

change agents more heavily to learn about, access, and decide to purchase new products.

Therefore, utilizing change agents when marketing to early adopters will have results

that are more effective.

2.6 PREDICTING MARKETS FOR NEW TECHNOLOGY The successful launch of new technologies is often based on product adoption

predictions; however, in mature, well-understood consumer markets, only a minority of

product launches are successful (around 1 in 10).84,85 The question remains: can a

Southern African Business Review December (2000).

83 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations. pp. 164

84 Successful adoption in this case is based on Carey’s definition of a product “taking off” – “attainting

the lowest level of sales and penetration at which one would have confidence that he service would not

marketer predict the successful adoption of a new technology for which there is

currently no consumer demand? Various methodologies have been developed to answer

that question and aid in predicting potential markets for new products.

Forecasting demand for a new technology product relies on a variety of

methodologies. However, most of the methods used create an imperfect result. For

example, AT&T in 1980 released a study predicting the future of cellular services. “The

study claimed that by the year 2000 there would be only 900,000 US cell phone users –

a number that dramatically underestimated the snowballing effect of falling prices and

the desire of Americans to talk while moving. By mid 2000 there were more than 100

million US cell phone users – more than 100 times the number AT&T predicted.”86

Even assuming the best intentions from the individual creating the prediction, and

supported by solid scientific market studies, most forecasts result in over-inflated


The difficulty in predicting the adoption of an information technology is largely

based on the complexity of the factors that need to be included in the estimation.

be withdrawn because of subsequent lack of demand.” viewed as enough sales of the product to warrant its continued presence in the market.

85 John Carey, "Forecasting Demand for New Consumer Services: Challenges and Alternatives," in New Infotainment Technologies in the Home: Demand-Side Perspectives, ed. Nikhilesh Dholakia Norbert Mundorf Ruby Roy Dholakia (Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996).


Researchers must not only consider consumer desire or demand for the product (which

might be non-existent for a new product consumers have not been exposed to), but they

must also take into account policies that might affect how the product is offered. In

addition, they need to consider the impact that network effects, standards, and

interoperability, as well as the marketing strategy, pricing and product competition

might have on the product offering. 87

2.6.1 Bass Model for Predicting Adoption

One of the methods used to predict product adoption is the Bass Model (or

sometimes called the “S” Curve), which predicts that, through time, demand for the

product will start slow, and at some point increase rapidly, eventually flattening until the

saturation level for the product sales is reached (See Figure 2.3). To use this model, the

researcher must predict the saturation level, estimate when it will be reached, and fit an

S curve to those estimates (often based off an S curve from a similar product).

86 James B. Murray, Wireless Nation: The Frenzied Launch of the Cellular Revolution in America. pp.


87 These terms are covered in depth in Chapter 4.

Figure 2.3 Bass Forecasting Model also creates an index of market potential for the new

Figure 2.3

Bass Forecasting Model also creates an index of market potential for the new

product and rate of adoption. It allows the marketer to predict the total number of

adopters from the mean year of adoption based on the prediction of the number of

adopters from the time of the prediction to the mean year of adoption. All of this is

based on pilot launches of a new product, or from managerial judgments made based on

the diffusion history of analogous products.88

88 Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations.

The Bass Model of Diffusion assumes that two types of communication channels

influence potential adopters of an innovation. The first channel is mass media and

interpersonal world-of-mouth channels. The second channel is individuals adopting an

innovation because of a mass media message occur continuously throughout the

diffusion process, but are concentrated in relatively early in the process. Individuals

adopting because of interpersonal communication about the innovation expand in

numbers during the first one half of the diffusion process, and thereafter decline in

numbers per period, creating the S-shaped diffusion curve. The Bass model also

assumes that the rate of adoption during the first one half of the diffusion process occurs

at the same rate as the decline of the rate of adoption during the second half making the

S-shaped curve symmetrical.89

2.6.2 Criticisms of the Bass Model

Applying this model to technology products presents challenges. This model is

based on a few simple assumptions that might not apply to telecommunication products

& services. The first assumption is that the market potential of a new product remains

constant over time. This model, therefore, cannot be adapted for the network effects that

occur in telecommunication markets (and would be present in the wearable computing

89 Ibid. pp. 81

market). This is shown in the adoption rates of other telecommunication products and

services (see Figure 2.4).

telecommunication products and services (see Figure 2.4). Early Subscriber Growth for Select Telecomm. Services 90

Early Subscriber Growth for Select Telecomm. Services 90

Figure 2.4

The second assumption is that the diffusion of the new product is independent of

other innovations. The telecommunication industry is based on various

90 Gerald Faulhaber, "Broadband Deployment: Is Policy the Way?" (paper presented at the Brookings Conference, Washington, DC, 2003 2003).

interdependencies between products, networks, and services; and therefore this

assumption is not suited to predicting the adoption of telecommunication products. The

third assumption is that the nature of an innovation does not change over time. With the

fast pace of product improvement in the technology product industry (as seen by release

of versions of software), technology products have a higher likelihood of changing as

more users are exposed to and provide suggestions about the product features. The

fourth assumption is that marketing strategies - such as changing a product’s price,

advertising it more heavily, and so forth - does not influence the diffusion process.

Within the telecommunication industry competitive pricing and economies of scale

force many companies to price products close to cost and stability of marketing

strategies is not the norm. Finally, the model assumes that supply restrictions do not

limit the rate of diffusion of a new product. The history of technology products is

peppered with references of under-predicting consumer demand and the creation of

supply shortages. Palm Pilot’s initial launch was challenged by various hardware and

software glitches including battery problem caused by the extra width of a warning

sticker attached to the inside of the battery door. All of these delays resulted in

customers who had placed their orders up to 4 months before having to wait to receive

their new Palm Pilots. When the products finally did reach retail shelves, the demand

quickly outstripped the ability to supply the product.91

This model can have an unrealistic high demand at the saturation point, by the

fact that the product may never come near the saturation level, or it might never get to

the point where the curve starts rising. Furthermore, it is difficult to estimate how long

it will take the product to reach particular points within the S Curve. Even though the

Bass Model is widely popular, the assumptions upon which it is based raises concerns

about using this model to predict technology products.

2.6.3 Delphi Method for Predicting Adoption

An alternative theory used for predicting product adoption is the Delphi method.

This is a technique where groups of experts convene to create a consensus forecast for

the market. This method can often provide insights created from the group interaction

that are valuable to marketers. However, there it is unproven whether an expert’s

prediction on product adoption is any better than someone else’s prediction. In some

cases, the prediction might be biased due to the expert’s personal interest in the


91 Pogue, Piloting Palm: The inside Story of Palm, Handspring, and the Birth of the Billion-Dollar Handheld Industry. pp. 144-151.

2.6.4 Other Models

There are various other ways to predict a product’s market potential. First, a

marketer could derive a forecast for the entire demand for a product based on a similar

established market. This is accomplished by taking the (similar market’s) demand and

multiplying it by an estimate of the future market share for the new service


example, predicting the Internet’s adoption would be based on the demand of a similar

established market (like consumer’s expenditures on information gathering) and a

percentage of that demand would be used based on the number of consumers in that

market that share the same demographic characteristics as the predicted consumer base

for the Internet. Of course, this is based on an assumption that information gathering is

the Internet’s paramount value to the consumer.92

Second, predicting the future market for a product can be based on individual

purchasing decisions. This is accomplished by extrapolating the potential individual

purchases into an estimate for the market as a whole by using demographic

information.93 For instance, if the product is predicted to be largely purchased by

college-educated males, then a prediction for the market can be developed by

determining how many college educated males are present within the US market and

would potentially be interested in purchasing the product.

92 Carey, "Forecasting Demand for New Consumer Services: Challenges and Alternatives." pp. 40

Finally, predicting the future market for a product can be accomplished by

asking a sample of consumers if they would be interested in purchasing the product and

extrapolate that number based on demographics for the predicted market as a whole.

This method has drawbacks as well. For instance, in the case of products that are

entirely new to the public, the likelihood that they truly understand the value of the

product and what it can do is based on a limited set of information (often based on

verbal descriptions or photos, but no interaction with the product). Verbal descriptions

of the product (via a phone survey for instance) have tendency to inflate the positive

attributes of the product and limit the consumer’s awareness of the negative aspects of

the product. Zangwill, author of Lightning Strategies for Innovation: How the World's

Best Firms Create New Products, suggests that forecasting is a waste of resources and

that companies should instead simply launch new products into the market, assess the

consumer responses, adjust the design of the product or withdraw the product based on

the feedback.94 However, this strategy is not fitting to a product that has various

software and hardware components, and a variety of uses that might lead the consumer

to misunderstand the product’s full range of features and applications.

93 Ibid. pp. 41

94 Ibid. pp. 54

2.7 USE OF PRODUCT PREDICTION THEORIES IN THIS ANALYSIS To overcome the various shortcomings of predicting adoption of consumer

technology products using models, this analysis will instead gather consumer data about

their attitudes and behaviors that may affect adoption. Establishing a model of

predicting new technology adoption (like the wearable computer) without an

understanding of the barriers that currently exist within the mind of the early adopter

consumer market (like product compatibility issues) would be a wasted exercise. In

addition, what is currently missing in the market research firm’s predictions of consumer

adoption of wearable technologies is a discussion of how the pre-conceived attitudes that

consumers have toward wearable computers is truly the largest barrier to entry into the

mass market. Therefore, this thesis will rely heavily on consumer behavior theories, and

the Gartner group model to arrive at an analysis of the barriers to consumer adoption of

wearable computers, with an emphasis on uncovering consumer attitudes and feelings

toward the technology.

Chapter 3: Data Collection Studies

Not only is there a danger of the technology being used to monitor people to make them into obedient productive cyborgs, but there is also the potential that people will become too dependent on this technology.95

Are the fears of technology being used to monitor people or the fear of people

being dependent on technology legitimate or widely believed? Would these fears affect

consumer’s attitude toward new technology like wearable computers? This thesis is

focused on discovering consumer attitudes and behaviors toward wearable computers

that may influence consumer adoption. The three data collection efforts consisted of

two online surveys, one focus group, and one daily use trial of Xybernaut Corporation's

Poma product by a member of the target market. First, two email-driven/web based

surveys were launched and asked early adopter consumers about their feelings and

associations with wearable computers, wearable computer displays, and their integration

with smart clothing.96 Second, a focus group was run with tech-savvy consumers using

the Poma. Finally, a test subject was selected out of the focus group to use the Poma on

a daily basis and he recorded his social interactions and provided comments about

product usability.

95 Mann, "Cyborg Seeks Community "

96 The full set of questions used for the two surveys are located in the Appendixes.


3 Data Presentation Throughout this data collection effort, inquiry has focused on collecting

consumer feedback about five areas: product features and usability, interested in

always-on, full function mobile computing, concerns about social interactions, interest

in the benefits of smart clothing, and the impact of culture on consumers’ pre-existing

concepts about wearable computing. While this research will not present a statistically

valid representative sample, it will present a qualitative understanding of the issues

surrounding early adopter consumer interest and concerns about wearable computers.

For this chapter, the demographics for each data collection group will be

presented along with a definition of the methods for each data collection activity. The

data will be presented based on the themes of issues or concerns that were similar

among the respondents’ answers from the four different data collection efforts. Under

each theme, each data collection group’s unique response are highlighted where

applicable and indicated by sections, allowing for identification between the survey

group’s concerns about mobility vs. the daily-use experience with the mobility of the

product. All focus group participants are identified via a pseudonym. Comments by

focus group participants are presented in normal quotations. The comments collected

anonymously from survey group respondents are indicated by italics and with bullets to

differentiate one respondent from another.


Consumers sampled in the four data collection efforts provided oral and written

comments about their associations, concerns, and pre-existing attitudes about wearable

computers. Many of their comments challenge the industry-preconceived notions about

consumer’s interest in always-on mobile computing. The consumer sampled for this

study indicated their disinterest in always on computing, concerns about the impact the

technology would have on their social interactions, and their lack of interested in the

integration of smart fabrics and wearable computers. They suggested various product

enhancements and provided feedback about their interest in various features and

applications. They also demonstrated a range of associations between wearable

computers and pop culture concepts and provided marketing suggestions that should be

taken into account when marketing an improved consumer wearable computing product.

These issues and concerns are presented as individual sections that contain comments

from the each of the applicable data collection groups so that the reader can view how

the level of interaction with the product resulted subtle differences between the data

groups’ comments.


For the first email survey, the early adopter consumers were selected and asked a

series of questions about their current technology use, what technology products they

own, and what their attitudes were about wearable computers and their features. The

consumer audience for this survey was a group with positive attitudes toward


technology and whose members owned more than one mobile product. Attitudes toward

wearable computing were defined through a series of 24 questions about:

Demographic characteristics

Previous mobile communication device ownership/familiarity

Attitudes toward technology

Interest in wearable technology features97

The twenty-four-question web survey utilized the service to

send an email invitation, sent December 3, 2002 with a link to an online survey. The

first email was posted to the listserve for DC Web Women (DCWW) and for

Georgetown University’s Communications, Culture, and Technology (CCT) program.98

Participants were then encouraged to send the link to the online survey to men they

knew who were technologically oriented. The survey was also posted three days later

on a listserve for alumni from an anonymous technology company where only men were

encouraged to answer. A small sampling of the researcher’s personal contacts (most

respondents were colleagues in the technology field or college age students) was also

solicited via email. The resulting pool of respondents was largely employed in the

technology industry. A total of 256 people (97 men and 157 women) responded.

97 To view the complete survey, see Appendix A.

98 DC Web Women is a free listserve of over 4,000 women in the Washington, DC Metro Area that are

involved in marketing or web work. Approximately 199 students use the CCT graduate program

listserve to exchange news, information and support.


Key terms used in the survey were defined for participants. The term wearable

computer was not initially defined in order to get respondents to provide unbiased first

reactions to the term. The definitions provided for these terms are as follows:

Mobile Communication Devices Mobile Communications Devices were defined non-explicitly as devices that

enable the user to manage communications while away from the home or office.

Wearable Computers Respondents were asked to provide their own definition of what they thought the

term “wearable computer” meant, and were directed to select the adjectives that they

associated with a provided definition of what a wearable computer was, as well as select

the specific tasks and features they thought were performed by wearable computers.99

A link to an image of the Poma was also embedded in the survey. Due to technical

problems, not all respondents were able to see an image of a wearable computer.

Attempting to fix the problem, a link to a picture of the Poma was added to the

introductory email asking the respondent to answer the survey. Some respondents were

99 The definition and summary used was: “A wearable computer is a fully functional, self-powered, self-contained computer that is worn on the body. It can provide access to information, and interaction with that information, anywhere and at any time. With heads-up displays, unobtrusive input devices, personal wireless local area networks, and a host of other context sensing and communication tools, the wearable computer can act as an intelligent assistant, whether it be through a Remembrance Agent, augmented reality, or intellectual collectives.”


able to use the link to view the image before taking the survey. There is no way to

determine, however, whether or not a particular respondent actually viewed the image.

3.1.1 Determining Early Adopters

Respondents were asked a multiple-choice question about their feelings toward

technology and their current or previous use and ownership of a variety of mobile or

wearable products. The question, “What three adjectives would you use to describe

your current relationship with technology?” allowed them to answer affirmatively to the

following options:















Upset The respondents that answered affirmatively in terms of their relationship with

technology were categorized as early adopters (hereafter referred to as PositiveTech)

and their responses were singled out from the total respondents. A significant number of


respondents (153 out of 256) were categorized as the early adopter group (referenced as

PositiveTech) and their responses were separated from the larger group for analysis.



The demographics for the survey group are as follows. More women than men

responded (157 vs. 97) with a total of 356 respondents.

Age & Gender The largest age group (68 out of 256 respondents) were ages 31-40 with the

second largest group (47 out of 256) composed of three different age groups 25-30, 41-

50 and 51-60 year olds. The age groups for PositiveTech followed the pattern for the

entire survey group with the largest group in the 31-40-age range, etc.

Geography Most of the respondents (for both the entire respondent group as well as

PositiveTech) lived in the suburbs (127 out of 256) or in an urban area (with 89 out of

256). Interestingly, even though the survey was only sent to DC metro area-related

listserves (and 226 out of 256 respondents to the survey noted they were from the US),

there were 16 respondents from Mexico, five from Canada, three from Europe, and one


respondent each from Asia, Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), and the West


Income and Professional Title The largest number of respondents selected the income range of $50,000 to

$74,999 (62 out of 256) with the second largest number of respondents (41 out of 256)

selecting the range of over $100,000 a year. The income for PositiveTech followed the

pattern of the larger group.

Respondents were also asked to select a professional title closest to their own.

The largest number of respondents (within PositiveTech) selected Trained Professional

(76 out of 153), Self-employed/Partner (50 out of 153) was the second largest

response, and Consultant (23 out of 153) was the third most popular response.

In summary, survey respondents were mostly women ages 31-40 who work in

the DC metro area and make $50,000 to $74,999 a year as a trained professional or self-


Familiarity with and Ownership of Mobile Technologies Respondents were then asked which mobile technologies they previously or

currently owned (See Figure 3.1). Out of the entire survey group (PositiveTech and

non-PositiveTech), most respondents (85.5%) noted that they owned or have used a

100 The DC metro area comprises the Maryland and Virginia suburbs within commuting distance of



pager, 98.8% a cell phone, 86.7% a walkman, 90.6% a pager, 87.1% a phone with

Internet access, 92.6% a laptop, 87.1% a camcorder, 84% a digital watch and 84.4% a

smart phone.

For the PositiveTech group, 60% owned or had used a pager vs. 58% of the non-

PositiveTech group. In relation to cell phones, the percentages were PositiveTech

(95%) vs. non-PositiveTech (94%) respectively. For walkmans, PositiveTech (91%) vs.

non-PositiveTech (86%); for PDAs, PositiveTech (75%) vs. non-PositiveTech (67%);

for phones with Internet access, PositiveTech (47%) vs. non-PositiveTech (47%); for

laptops, PositiveTech (89%) vs. non-PositiveTech (97%); for camcorders, PositiveTech

(66%) vs. non-PositiveTech (76%); and for smart phone the percentages were

PositiveTech (25%) and non-PositiveTech (22%) respectively.


Respondents who Own or Have Used the Technology

with PDA







smart phones



Survey #1: Mobile Device Ownership

120 100 80 60 40 20 0

Types of Mobile Devices

Positive TechEveryone Else

Everyone ElsePositive Tech

Figure 3.1

Internet Usage Most respondents used the Internet daily. In the PositiveTech group, 68

respondents (44%) accessed the Internet one to three hours a day. Sixty (39%) accessed

the Internet for over eight hours a day, and 54 (35%) accessed the Internet three to five

hours a day. Almost three quarters (72%) of PositiveTech accessed the Internet over

three hours a day with 28% of them accessing the Internet for five to eight hours a day.

For the rest of the survey group (non-PositiveTech, 47% accessed the Internet over three

hours a day and only 18% accessed the Internet for five to eight hours a day.

Almost all of the respondents were interested in mobile Internet. Most (247 out

of 256 of the respondents) were interested in accessing the Internet while mobile (152


out of 153) and everyone in the PositiveTech group wanted to be able to access the

Internet while mobile. Almost all (152 out of the 153) The PositiveTech chatted using

the Internet for the same percentages and period of time(s) as the entire survey group

with 54% chatting online for less than an hour. In sum, this group responded strongly to

the benefit of full page mobile Internet provided by wearable computing devices.

Instant Video Sixty percent of the all the respondents wanted to share an experience instantly

with their family and friends via video or photo, with 63% of PositiveTech interested in

that feature and 55% of non- PositiveTech interested in that feature.

Online Gaming Use The HMD used in some wearable computers offers full color displays which

would allow consumers to engage in mobile computer gaming, and online gaming, if the

device were Internet enabled. When survey participants were asked about their online

gaming use, online gaming was only played by 35% of PositiveTech and only 15% of

non- PositiveTech.101 Of the respondents who indicated they did play online games,

19% of all respondents spent once a week playing online games. A quarter of weekly

101 This might be due to the larger number of women who answered the survey and perhaps with more men answering the survey, (who represent a larger number of computer game players) there would be more interest in mobile game playing.


gamers (25%) were PositiveTech vs. 9% of non- PositiveTech. This shows that while

online gaming is a growing market, it would not be a killer app for wearable computers.

3.1.3 Daily Technology Use

Respondents were asked to select activities for which they used technology on a

daily basis. Their options were Scheduling, Email/Chatting, Creating Documents

and/or Digital Memories, Sharing Audio or Video Files, Playing Audio or Video

Files, and Managing Information or Data. They were then asked if this task was a

function they could potentially engage in while mobile. (See Figure 3.2 and Figure 3.3)

Survey #1: Daily Technology Use

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 % of Respondents Scheduling
% of Respondents
Business Email
Digital Memories


PositiveTech N-PositiveTech


PositiveTech N-PositiveTech



Figure 3.2

Survey #1: Interest in Daily Technology Use While Mobile

100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 % of Respondents Scheduling
% of Respondents
Business Email
Digital Memories


P-While Mobile N-While Mobile

P-While Mobile

P-While Mobile N-While Mobile

N-While Mobile


Figure 3.3

Daily use of technology for scheduling was selected by 63.4% of PositiveTech

(vs. 36.5% of non-PositiveTech). Almost three quarters, (71.1%) of the entire survey

group responded that they thought this would be more efficient if they could use this

feature while mobile (with 71.1% of PositiveTech indicating their interest in scheduling

while mobile, vs. 79.2% of non-PositiveTech).


Email/Chatting Out of all the respondents, 92.9% used technology daily to connect with family

and friends, with slightly more PositiveTech (94.1% ) than non PositiveTech (91.1%)

using technology daily for this function. More than half (64.6%) of PositiveTech were

more interested in this feature if they could use it while mobile, vs. 59.5% non-


Using technology daily for chatting was selected by 42.3% of all respondents

(with 41.8% PositiveTech using technology daily for this purpose vs. 43.3% of non-

PositiveTech). Almost half of all the survey respondents (47.2%) thought this would be

more effective while mobile (47.9% PositiveTech and 46.2% non-PositiveTech). A

large number of respondents (89.2%) used email for business communication on a daily

basis (62.9 % PositiveTech vs. 37%), and 75.1% of PositiveTech thought this would be

more efficient while mobile vs. 68.4% of non-PositiveTech.

Documents/Digital Memories Not surprisingly, almost all of the respondents (92%) used technology daily to

create documents (93.4% PositiveTech vs. 90% of non-PositiveTech), and 50.3% of

PositiveTech thought this would be more efficient while mobile vs. 58.7% of non-

PositiveTech group. More than half (55.6 %) used technology daily for creating digital

memories (59.4% for PositiveTech and 49.4% for non-PositiveTech) and this

discrepancy might be due to the large number of respondents who work in the web


design or graphic design field. Slightly more than half of PositiveTech (54.7%) thought

this would be more efficient while mobile vs. 47.3% of non-PositiveTech.

Audio/Video Files Only one half of survey respondents (50.6%) used technology daily to share

audio, video, or data files, (53.5% PositiveTech vs. 45.6% non-PositiveTech). Almost

half of PositiveTech (43%) thought this would be more effective if it was mobile vs.

89% non-PositiveTech. More than half of the survey respondents (52%) used

technology daily to play audio or video files, and 55.6% of PositiveTech were interested

in this feature while mobile vs. 51.6% of non-PositiveTech.

Managing Information/Data More than three quarters of all respondents (88%) used technology daily to

manage information or data (88% PositiveTech vs. 86.5% of non-PositiveTech). Of the

PositiveTech group, 71.6% were interested in this feature while mobile, vs. 64.2% of

non-PositiveTech group.

In summary, the entire group used technology primarily for communication,

creating documents, and managing information and data. The PositiveTech group could

envision using a wearable computer to assist them in conducting all of those functions

while mobile; while the non-PositiveTech group were not quite as able to envision those

features, except when it came to entertainment functions. The non-PositiveTech group


owned more video cameras than the PositiveTech group, and was significantly more

interested in sharing audio and video files while mobile.


A second survey was launched on February 14, 2003 to the same group of

consumers (minus the personal contacts) to ask them questions about wearable

computers that were omitted from the first survey. The second survey also asked

questions about consumer interest in smart fabrics and smart fabrics’ role as a potential

package for wearable computers.

The sixteen-question web survey utilized the service to send an

email message to the entire DCWW listserve and Georgetown University’s and the

Communications, Culture and Technology program’s listserve, but not to the list of

personal contacts. DCWW survey participants were then encouraged to send the link to

the online survey to men they knew who were technologically oriented. The result was

that 93 people (15 men and 78 women) responded.

A variety of terms was defined for the survey participants. The survey was

structured so that participants would provide their own definition of “smart fabrics or e-

textiles” before reading the definition provided or seeing the image of a smart fabric


product. Definitions and images of wearable computers, smart fabrics, and three types

of mobile device displays were provided.102

Wearable Computers

Wearable computers were defined as:

“A fully functional, self-powered, self-contained computer that is worn on the body. It provides access to information and interaction with information anywhere and at anytime.103 Physically, the apparatus consists of a battery- powered, wearable Internet-connected computer system with a miniature eyeglass-mounted screen and the appropriate optics to form a virtual image equivalent to an ordinary desktop multimedia computer before the user’s field of vision. Because the device is tetherless, it travels with the user, presenting a computer screen that either appears superimposed on top of the real world, or represents the real world as a video image.”104

Wearable computers allow you all the functionality of your home computer, yet you can access all your familiar applications and files while mobile. In addition, since wearable computers are always-on, they can assist you in remembering a variety of important items throughout your day though a remembrance application.105

Smart Fabrics

Smart Fabrics were defined as:

102 To view the complete survey, see Appendix B.

103 Starner, "Augmented Reality through Wearable Computing. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual

Environments." pp. 6

105 Steven Mann, "Humanistic Intelligence: `Wearcomp' as a

New Framework and Application for Intelligent Signal Processing" (paper presented at the IEEE, November 1998).


E-textiles, smart fabrics involve microelectronic components that are directly connected to electrically conducting fabric and sewn into clothing, thus directly integrating the electronics in the textiles to ensure comfortable, highly wearable smart clothing, thus allowing the full integration of electronic applications in clothes. Electronic clothing weaves all sorts of intelligence into textiles, including the ability to detect dangerous chemicals, sanitize themselves, and serve as communication networks. Applications run the gamut, from health and sporting goods to sophisticated combat uniforms.106

A visual example of smart clothing was also provided for survey respondents

Mobile Displays

Varieties of mobile displays were also presented to encourage feedback from the

survey respondents.107 The displays used were:

Head Mounted Display (HMD) – defined as: “By projecting the equivalent of a full-size screen two feet in front of the user, the SV-3 heralds a new era of data presentation. The SV-3 is ultra-lightweight, ergonomically designed, can attach to eyeglasses.” An image was used for additional illustration.108

Microdisplays - defined as: “Microvision's technology would allow users to flip up a small lens at the base of a phone or wear a lightweight headset to have the experience of looking at an image with the size and quality of a laptop or desktop monitor. Unlike alternative solutions that project images from a miniaturized screen, Microvision's display uses a single tiny mirror to scan a low-power beam of colored light across the eye, creating the effect of viewing a full-size screen.” An image was also used.109

Traditional handheld display – this option was simply defined by an image.

106 "Infineon Unveils Technologies for for "Smart" Clothing," (Global Sources, 2002).

107 See Appendix B.

108 MicroOptical, Products (MicroOptical, 2003 [cited February 18 2003]); available from

109 Microvision, Microdisplay Product Sheet (Microvision, 2003 [cited 2003]); available from


3.2.1 Determining Early Adopters

Respondents for the second survey were categorized as early mobile adopters

based on their membership to the DCWW listserve and the technology-oriented men

that they forwarded the email invitation to, and their current or previous ownership of

mobile devices. Whereas the first survey was sent to a wider variety of individuals, the

respondents from the first survey were then divided into PositiveTech and non-

PositiveTech and the PositiveTech respondents were more valuable to this data

collection effort. The second survey eliminated the group of personal contacts (many of

whom were non-PositiveTech respondents) and limited the audience of the second

survey. An assumption was made that the individuals answering the second survey (by

way of their membership in the various technology communities and based on findings

from the first survey) were already positive toward technology and the question that

allowed them to comment on their attitudes toward technology was un-necessary.110

Responses to the question about their current mobile devices supported the

assumption that they were open to adopting new technology based on their previous

purchases. Thirty respondents out of 93 (32.3%) currently or previously owned (C/PO)

110 In the first survey, it was determined that the relationship between PositiveTech and respondents who owned a laptop is significant based on Pearson’s Correlations at the .05 (2-tailed) level with a coefficient of –.141. For those who owned a smart phone, the coefficient is -.139 based on Pearson’s Correlations at the .05 (2-tailed) level.


a pager, 85 out of 93 (91.4%) C/PO a Walkman; 85 out of 93 (91.4%) C/PO a cell

phone; 36 out of 93 (38.7%) C/PO a cell phone with web access; 55 out of 93 (59.1%)

C/PO a PDA; 10 out of 93 (10.8%) C/PO a smart phone; 74 out of 93 (79.6%) C/PO a



Second Survey Demographics

Here are the demographics of the survey group.

Age & Gender:

Fifteen respondents (16.1%) were in the 18 - 24-age range, 24 respondents

(25.8%) in the 25 - 30 age range, 36 respondents (38.7%) in the 31 - 40 age range, 15

respondents (16.1%) in the 41 - 50-age range, and 8 respondents (1.1%) in the 61 - 70

age range. Fifteen of the respondents (16.1%) were male and 78 of the respondents

were female (83.9%) totaling 93 respondents.

Geography Forty-six respondents (49.5%) lived in an urban area, 42 respondents (45.2%) in

a suburban area and 5 respondents (5.4%) in a rural area. Almost all respondents (92 out

of 93) were from the United States with one respondent from Mexico.


Income and Professional Title Respondents were then asked to select a range that represents their annual

income. The largest number of respondents chose the $40,000-$49,999 range (24.7%)