Nearly half of Americans are at least a little interested (46 percent) in owning a watch- or wristband-style wearable tech device, with more than one-quarter (27 percent) specifying that they are very or somewhat interested, according to an online survey of 2,577 U.S. adults by Harris Interactive.
One bright spot for wearable tech is that fewer than four in 10 Americans feel it needs to cannibalize an existing tech category in order to earn their interest, with 38 percent saying they would only be interested in wearable tech if it could replace something they already use, such as a smartphone. Less than half (45 percent) disagree with this sentiment.
Opinions are more evenly split on the matter of whether wearable tech can be stylish, with 43 percent agreeing it can be and 41 percent disagreeing.
In addition, men are more likely than women to believe that wearable tech can be stylish (47 percent of men versus 40 percent of women) and that it can be useful for their lives (46 percent for men and 34 percent for women).
More importantly, respondents were evenly split as to whether wearable tech was just a fad or whether it would fail to become as common as smartphones. Skepticism is also the leading sentiment where usefulness is concerned: while four in 10 Americans agree that that wearable tech could be useful for their lives, 47 percent disagree.
Those with children under the age of 18 are also consistently more interested in wearable tech than those without, with majorities at least a little interested in a watch or wristband type of wearable tech (59 percent among those with children under 18, versus 41 percent among those without) or some other type (55 percent and 42 percent).
"In the end, Americans aren't yet displaying truly decisive opinions either for or against wearable tech, which may reflect a simple lack of clear understanding of the category as a whole," the report noted. "The variety of devices coming to market thus far, and of the inconsistency of roles they're designed to fill in consumers' lives, can make it hard for the public to wrap its head around just what these devices are all about."
While 46 percent are at least somewhat interested in some other type of device (26 percent said they are very or somewhat interested), fewer show an interest in owning a wearable tech device in the headset or glasses vein (36 percent said at least a little, while just 20 percent said very or somewhat).
While the public remains skeptical of wearable technology, especially concepts like Google Glass, a recent report from IT research firm Gartner suggests these technologies could be very beneficial to businesses.
The use of smart glasses has the potential to improve worker efficiency in vertical markets such as manufacturing, field service, retail and health care, with the report projecting that the greatest savings in field service would come from diagnosing and fixing problems more quickly and without needing to bring additional experts to remote sites.