Surprise: People Don't Want to Wear Computers on Their Face

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 25 2013 1:30 PM

Survey: People Don't Really Want to Wear Computers on Their Face

The Miz wearing Google Glass
Professional wrestler The Miz is among a minority of Americans who are interested in conspicuously displaying their wearable technology.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for WWE

Americans want their tech subtle like a Volvo, not conspicuous like a Lamborghini.

A new survey finds that a majority believe “wearable technology” like smart watches and smart clothing will someday be as ubiquitous as smartphones are today. But most would prefer not to wear it on their sleeves—or, worse, their faces.

The survey, by the cloud-services company Citrix, asked 1,000 U.S. adults for their thoughts on wearable technologies. While 60 percent see wearables as an unstoppable trend, 61 percent said they have no plans to purchase a wearable device themselves. And if they do, they don’t want to advertise it to the world. Seventy-three percent said they’d prefer their wearable tech to blend into their everyday clothing rather than serving as a visible advertisement of their tech savvy.  (That number is lower among Millennials, but still a majority.)

Citrix wearables survey results

Source: Citrix Wearables Survey, Nov. 2013

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The generation gap also shows up in people’s responses to a question about what fictional wearable technology they’d prefer. Millennials went for Tony Stark’s full-body armor suit from Iron Man, while their parents would be more comfortable with an unobtrusive Starfleet wrist communicator. As for real-world tech, the survey would seem to be good news for smart-watch purveyors—and smart socks purveyors, for that matter—and a blow to Google Glass.

Citrix Wearables survey

Source: Citrix Wearables Survey, Nov. 2013

On the other hand, the 27 percent of adults who do want to wear their devices like a billboard can take heart: They should have no problem standing out from the rest of us.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

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