WEAR: Early vs. Late Adopters

From: Technotranscendence (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Date: Sun Apr 09 2000 - 12:25:09 MDT

On Sunday, April 09, 2000 7:55 AM Greg Burch GBurch1@aol.com wrote:
> I'm no "sociological guru", but I sure love to speculate :-) In the
> and intermediate-term, wearables with really good real-time
> reality-augmentation agents could give their users a huge advantage in all
> sorts of human activities. They could also cause a kind of mental fatigue
> for their users the like of which we've never seen before in human
> experience. Feel flooded with information and overwhelmed with the need
> "keep up" with all the channels of communication you have available to you
> now? Just wait for the era of true ubiquitous telecommunications.
> I wonder whether the ealiest adopters of really capable wearables might
> experience a massive surge in competitive advantage simply because it will
> take some time to work out the best balance of info-flow and basic monkey
> ability to deal with the dataflood that will be available. Perhaps by the
> time the early adopters work out just what a workable interface is like,
> price will be so low that a mass market will be able to afford them - sort
> like what happened with PCs and the web.

Might it not also be true that later adopters might benefit from not having
to reinvent the wheel? In other words, later adopters could benefit from
the experience of the early adopters rather than having to figure a lot of
this stuff out for themselves? This does appear to be the case with a lot
of other technologies, especially if one holds one's money back until the
technology develops more and gets cheaper in the process.

Also, there does seem to be on this list and in the culture in general the
idea that adopting innovations early is always beneficial. But innovations
are not always progressive! Take central banking for instance. This
"social" innovation came about in the early 19th century and is practically
ubiquitous today, yet it seems pretty regressive in many ways. Britain, who
adopted it first, lagged behind the US in the late 19th and early 20th
century. (Of course, the US tried to emulate the practice many times but
failed until the early 20th century, so this is not really an example of a
later adopter learning from the experience of an early adopter.)

This is not to say I believe wearable computers are not innovative. (True
be told, the idea has been around since the 1970s and, if my memory's
correct, Xybernaut, who recently got a lot of press over this has been
manufacturing them since the mid-1990s. (Early customers included the US
Navy. I actually talked to someone working for Xybernaut in 1997 --
business related.) The major barrier to their current widespread use
appears to be price. The line Xybernaut sells is above laptop prices, which
puts them beyond the range of the average computer consumer. See


Daniel Ust

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