Comfort isn’t just a Vision Pro problem, it’s a wearable problem

As I sit here writing this in the Apple Vision Pro, I’m acutely aware of how the light seal presses against my forehead and cheekbones. It was relatively comfortable when I put it on an hour ago. But now I push the bridge every now and then, like I’m a cartoon nerd saying, eh, actually – just to give my face a break. This is despite the fact that I did the scan to determine my perfect fit for light sealing (33W, in case you’re wondering). So no, I’m not surprised that many Apple fans who returned their Vision Pros cited comfort as a major issue.

But this isn’t exclusively a Vision Pro problem. It’s a bearable problem.

I say this often in my reviews, but comfort is king. For other gadget categories, comfort is mainly a matter of weight. With wearables, fit adds an extra layer of complexity. You’re not going to wear a smartwatch, smart ring, smart glasses or a mixed reality headset if you’re not comfortable doing so. The catch is that it’s difficult to scale a comfortable fit for the mass market. Even when a company does its best, someone is always left out.

Smartwatches are often available in multiple sizes: 40-42 mm for smaller wrists, 44-47 mm for medium wrists and 48-50 mm for larger wrists. Problem solved, right? Not quite. Smaller smartwatches often run into problems due to technical limitations. They have worse battery life compared to larger watches, which can hold sturdier batteries. The largest watches also often get the latest features first. (See: Garmin Fenix ​​6X and solar charging, Apple Watch Ultra and dual frequency GPS, etc.) As a person with small wrists, I always have to choose whether I want features and battery life or comfort. Anyway, I have to give something up.

The average ring size for women is 6, and for men 9 or 10. In the US and Canada, regular rings are available in sizes 3 to 16. Half sizes are also an option. With smart rings, there are few, if any, available for people with a ring size smaller than 6 or larger than 13. Smart ring makers like Oura, Movano, Ultrahuman, and Circular also don’t support half sizes. It is understandable. Smart rings contain technical components. That makes it impossible to resize them, and it makes financial sense for companies to mass-produce only the most common sizes. But it means you only get 7 or 8 size options with smart rings, compared to about 28 with regular rings.

Every time I review smart glasses, I get people in my DMs asking how they fit. For those of us without aquiline noses, glasses without proper nose pads are constantly sliding off your face. That happened to me when I reviewed the Amazon Echo Frames Carrera Cruiser. It gets old very quickly. I’m sure Amazon has its reasons for only offering a standard fit, but low nose bridges are very common. It leaves out a large group of people worldwide.

The core problem is that every human body is different. You could say that companies should try to provide a customized fitting experience for the best results. But that can also be a logistical nightmare. To get my hands on a pair of the now-defunct Focals by North, I had to physically go to their store in Brooklyn and have my face 3D scanned. At launch, online scans were not an option. Then I had to come back three weeks later for an adjustment with the actual product. Those smart glasses fit me best, but for most people, in-person fitting wasn’t feasible unless they lived near the company’s stores in Toronto or New York City. By the time Focals by North rolled out app-based fixtures, the writing was on the wall for the company.

I have no solution. I think the best thing a wearable device manufacturer can do is prioritize comfort and make devices more portable with each generation. Those who don’t do so at their own risk. It doesn’t have to be a category-wide innovation either. The Evie Ring has added an open opening at the top, making it easy to take it out if your fingers swell. It’s small, but portability has improved dramatically. When done right, prioritizing comfort has the added benefit of minimizing how many people are left out.

With the Vision Pro, Apple has done a pretty good job of accommodating as many face shapes as possible. But if it really wants spatial computing to become a thing, it needs to brainstorm ways to make it comfortable enough for the future big majority of people to wear for several hours at a time. Some people are lucky because that’s all their experience. For me, the headset is relatively comfortable. Today that wasn’t enough. I only read two-thirds of this article before I had to delete it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *