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

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


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.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Dear Prudence
Sept. 16 2014 6:00 AM Can of Worms Prudie offers advice to a letter writer who wants to blackmail a famous ex with tapes of his fetish.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.