May 13, 2015 by lucychlin
On Sunday I ran my first 10km race in 5 years and a lot has changed during that time. I wore a chip that recorded what time I had started and finished, and I was able to look up immediately after the race what my time was (53 minutes, 46 seconds). An automated photo was taken at the finish line and as I was wearing an activity tracker, I knew how many steps I had taken, how many calories I had burnt and what my heart rate was. I haven’t been wearing a health wearable device just for exercising either, it’s overtaken my life as I’m now consciously aware of this access to personal data and I constantly monitor my activity daily and more frequently than brushing my teeth!
The wearables space has been increasing momentum and is already proving to be a revolutionary change in consumer behavior. This new age of information has been a wake-up call of awareness that humans are no longer separated by technology. Even with my mobile device, I have purposefully left it behind every now and again, but with a small device that is strapped to your wrist or clipped to your trousers, it goes wherever you go, even motivating you to action.
Wearables go beyond the health industry too. The wearable watch will become a new mass channel for communication, making payments and receiving notifications/alerts that do more than just simply tell time. Consumers are now always connected, always “on” and coupled with other wearable devices like the GoPro and Google Glass, it will also log your activities visually and this is a new way to document and photo-log your life.
Disney is an outstanding leader in this field already. They’ve spent $1 billion implementing the MagicBand that customers receive outside the park, and worn on your wrist, it tracks your every activity inside the park. Acting like a credit card and personal identification, the MagicBand can unlock doors to a Disney Resort hotel room, enter theme and water parks, check in at FastPass+ entrances, connect photos to your account and make payments at restaurants and retail stores. In addition, bands are waterproof and can be personalized with own chosen color and Disney accessories, making a family visit to the Disney theme park more convenient, helpful and interactive, elevating the customer experience for both kids and adults alike.
Other benefits of wearable technology:
- Variety of choice: Wearables now range from clip-on’s, watches, headbands, glasses, clothing, even tattoos and implants. With a wide range of choice, consumers can choose which device they prefer to use, is most relevant to them and best fit most comfortably into their lifestyle.
- Knowledge is power: Ralph Lauren launched their biometric “smart shirt” at the US Open 2014 and can now measure important performance-oriented biometrics including heartbeat and respiration as well as psychometrics such as stress level and energy output. Players who wear the shirt can track the biometrics and make adjustments in real time improving breathing, form and play.
- 3D storytelling: No longer is the transfer of information a 2D experience relayed by sight or sound, but virtual reality coupled with devices like the Oculus or Google Cardboard will provide an immersive experience like you are a participant in the story itself. I.e. A soccer player in the World Cup, a medieval knight building civilizations, or experiencing a real time earthquake devastation or warzone scenario that will visually and emotionally involve consumers, driving them to make donations.
Having a company know so intimately about my data and actions can lead to other challenges with privacy and ownership of information. I also do not want to be spammed with too much information or targeted to the point that it will become “stalker-like” and “creepy”. There is a fine line of balance that organizations and businesses will need to be aware of when marketing to the consumer.
Ultimately, I am excited about where wearable technology is headed in the future as it will make my life more convenient and personalized. The sense of control over my own data that I will need to feel will continue to be important. Adoption of wearables has been gaining, but I don’t think it will overtake the mobile phone as a replacement. It will however, sit alongside, mobile and tablet as another channel of communication and information that consumers will use as part of their daily lives.