samsung smartwatchLarge high-tech companies may be pushing the market for wearable computing devices ahead, but consumers’ aren’t buying, at least not yet. “There appears to be a large gap between current technology and mass adoption,” according to a new study from international market research company TNS.

Three-quarters of consumers are aware of at least one wearable computing device. Just 9% are interested in using them, however, according to TNS.

Efforts to raise awareness by major high-tech industry players, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch announcement, are sparking greater consumer interest, TNS found. Though there was no significant change in near-term purchase intent, interest in learning more about wearable computing technology increased 6 percentage points in TNS’ latest survey.

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“Wearable computing is still in its infancy. The main challenge lies in convincing people of its value and developing a device with mass appeal. The future of computing will be wearable, the question is, which kind of computers will people actually wear?” TNS SVP Tom Buehrer elaborated.

The feel of wearables is a critical factor in consumer interest and adoption, TNS continues. More than half (52%) of consumers surveyed stated a preference for a device worn on the wrist. The arm was the second most popular location at 24%. Raising serious doubts about Google Glass, just 5% indicated interest in wearing a device over their eyes.

The cost of purchasing yet another computing device is also a big factor and barrier, according to TNS’ findings. Fifty-five percent of consumers believe wearable tech will be too expensive, while 24% said they already have too many devices.

Finally, there’s the issue of privacy. Nearly one-third (31%) “are genuinely worried,” citing privacy as a hurdle in adoption.

Despite all the hurdles, TNS believes wearable computing devices hold enormous market potential, particularly in applications for health and fitness, navigation, social networking, e-commerce and media. Nearly 34% of those surveyed said they would use wearable technology to monitor their health and communicate with friends.

“Imagine having information that literally is right in front of you that reminds you of important information that you should already know, like a colleague’s name or important anniversary dates,” Buehrer concluded. “Imagine using your wrist to pay for lunch or to buy movie tickets? Wearables will transform our lives in numerous ways, which we are just starting to imagine.”

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