Wearable technology articles and news seems to be popping up daily. You may have even seen someone wearing those weird looking glasses by Google.
Webopedia defines this as:
Wearable technology (also called wearable gadgets) is a category of technology devices related to health and fitness. Other wearable tech gadgets include devices that have small motion sensors to take photos and sync with your mobile devices.
You may have read articles on people using Google Glass. You may have heard about the new upcoming iWatch or seen people with Fitbits who are tracking their calories and steps. Consumer use always drives the experience and as marketers, we start to figure out how to utilize these new tools to drive brand awareness and ultimately new business. This is a hot growth area that is following the same rise as smartphones.
Projected Wearable Computing Device Shipments: (Fortune, 2014)
Activity Trackers: 57 Million
Health Care: 34 Million
Smart Watches: 25 Million
Wearable Cameras: 16 Million
Smart Glasses: 11 Million.
Wearable Technology is really wearable brands. Brands are coming to life while a person is wearing this technology. Check out this graphic of the well-connected man.
Let’s review a few types of Wearable technology:
This is still fairly new. People wearing these in public have been called “Glass-holes”. It’s that awkward feeling if your being recorded while talking to someone wearing a camera on their glasses.
A wide variety of companies are starting to use Glass. We are starting to use it to access experts across the world to improve patient care. One interesting use of Glass was when Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital partnered with the Houston Zoo to give young patients a close up view of the animals they could not enjoy otherwise. See this video to see how this was used:
This shows how brands such as hospitals and zoos are using Glass to engage their brand with their customers and advocates.
The use of Glass is really only in the beginning stages. You can find more Google Glass examples here: https://www.google.com/glass/start/explorer-stories/
These cameras have been worn by military and police. There are many wearable cameras coming to market. Why would someone use this type of device versus their smartphones? It is the ability to take photos without having to take your smartphone from your pocket and have a constant stream of photos to review.
These cameras take constant images over time so you don’t miss anything. Some take static images, while others take video. I have tried the Narrative Clip. http://getnarrative.com This wearable camera is hands-free and automatically takes pictures. If there is a photo you want to take at a certain moment, you just tap the camera front. This gives you searchable and sharable photos. Other wearable cameras are the Autographer and the Mecam.
Wearable Watches and Bands:
These started coming out over the past couple of years. These range from watches with actual screens to bands that wrap around your wrist or clip to your clothes. These devices track any number of things and apps can be developed to track almost anything. The world of James Bond is coming to your house.
Some of the few devices that are seeing popularity include Fitbit. This device tracks activity such as steps, calories burned and miles walked. The Pebble has an actual screen face that shows time and other information. This device has fitness apps as well as sending you notifications to your wrist. These can include calendar reminders, text messages or even email. These are one-way communication devices, meaning you can receive but not respond.
The Apple iWatch comes out in 2015. It will be interesting how many people are walking around with their wrist up, scrolling through these small screens. Currently, you need to have these devices connected to your smartphone to be able to have updated information sent to the device.
Now back to; should you care?
This depends on you personally and the type of business you are in. Do you think a wearable device will help your brand and help your customers connect with you? This will certainly be a dilemma for marketers on how to manage the type of data that people will consume on these devices. We have spent years working to understand how to use social media, then mobile came into play and now we have to consider wearable technology. It is becoming harder and harder to disconnect. We use to hear from our boss. “Did you read that file I put on your desk” to “Did you read the text I sent you?” to “ Can you turn on your Google Glass so I can see what you’re looking at?” It has become a world of instant feedback.
It’s hard to know what the next thing might be that we will have to consider. Maybe it will be time machines.