An Update on Wearable Predictions

GlazedConAfter the Glazed Conference by Wearable World in San Francisco the past two days, it is time for an update on the eight wearable predictions in the post Wearable Technology: Fashion, Fad or Future?

First of all, don’t expect quarterly updates.  An annual update that coincides with Glazed will do from here on out.  While I’m at it I’m taking the opportunity to add two more predictions. Ten predictions does sound better than eight but the new predictions are more than an attempt to round out the number; they’re important for the activity we will see as the wearables market grows and develops and wearable solutions put technology to work for you.

1)      Wearables of the future will be more than fad devices; they will satisfy customer needs.

This was a topic brought up in several of the Glazed sessions. We are still going in the direction of wearables being more than fad devices.  Nike’s move to shift focus away from wearable hardware means the Fuelband may become the first of the fallen fad devices.  Other devices like Google Glass may become to be seen as stepping stones to where we are going to go because they’ll be replaced with technology that better satisfies customer needs solving problems we do not even know can be solved today.  It will take a decade to decide which of today’s devices are fad devices and which will have multiple generations during that decade.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #1

2)      Where wearables are silo solutions now, in the future they will be better integrated with other wearables and the wider Internet of Things.

Apples HomeKit framework announced earlier this week is a prime example of where players are making moves to bring value to consumers through connecting devices.  Integrated solutions in the wearable world are beginning to emerge but there is still a lack of an accepted standard or definitive leader in this space; I see a silo to integrated transition starting in the next 18 months.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #2

3)      Companies that combine the information of multiple sensors in multiple wearable devices will create more value for their consumers than producers of single wearable devices.

Wearable fitness products appear to be the area where this prediction is being proven.  Another place is in manufacturing.  Because the overall wearable space is so new, there hasn’t been time for industry consolidation of complimentary wearables but it will start to happen in the same timeframe as the silo to integrated transition.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #3

4)      Wearables will become more intelligent because of developments in sensor technology and the ability to translate data from these sensors into insight via analytics.

We’re still on track to see sensor tech and data insight adding to the intelligence of wearables.  I’m excited to see the many solutions out there in health, fitness, manufacturing and many other areas.  Do you have an interesting product or data solution you’d like to talk about?

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #4

5)      The cost of sensors will continue to go down, thus enabling more uses and innovation with sensors in wearable devices.

Robert Scoble pointed out that Bluetooth beacons retail for around $30 each but a company such as Walmart purchasing thousands of Qualcomm Gimbal beacons will see prices well below $10.  While not a sensor (and this prediction is about sensors), the pricing of BTLE beacons is an indicator we are still on track for prices of components for wearable technology to go down enabling more use and innovation.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #5

6)      Wearable devices will need less frequent charging because of better energy storage and lower energy consumption.

Glazed was not immune from the midafternoon conference clustering around power points to charge up, a pretty good indicator this problem isn’t solved yet.  Battery life was talked about several times and some argue the inconvenience of carrying an extra battery pack is less important than the value some wearable devices create.  Intel’s charging bowl is an example of solutions aimed at keeping our wearable devices fully charged but if a smart watch spends the night in the bowl, it isn’t going to be able to do any sleep monitoring.   It may take several years for a breakthrough in this space.  Of course, I’d like to see it sooner than later so if you’re engaged in this space keep at it!

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #6

7)      People are going to use wearable technology to make a statement about who they are.

Yup.  Fashion tech is happening with the devices that are out there and it is going to happen with more devices.  I met Emily from Keyrious and Ben from Connected-Designs who are both working on wearable jewelry.  Apple fans will be clamoring for the iWatch.  Other wearable solutions are out there and more coming, including in luxury brands.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #7

8)      People are going to use undetectable wearable technology by using wearable ultra-sensitive micro sensors, sensors smaller and more sensitive than the innovative seat belt microphone in Audi’s R8 Spyder that enables clear cell phone conversation with the top down at lightning speeds.

In the health/wellness space you may see more of this; for example, if someone is on 24 hour heart monitoring for a heart condition or a woman is using a wearable to monitor body temperature to detect ovulation they may not want others to know what devices they have on.  While the world may not know what you are wearing under there, check back on this prediction to see what secrets can be kept.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #8

Two New Predictions

Obviously this list is not complete and could literally include dozens of more points; however, I’m honing in on two things here that are highly relevant to wearables.

9)  The debate around ownership of wearables-generated data will continue.

The odds are not in favor of consumer ownership and much of what will happen depends on government actions.  With Google receiving 10,000 requests a day for search activity to be forgotten in Europe it is possible to see there is certainly interest by consumers in controlling their information.

While consumers requesting to be forgotten are concerned about privacy, the real issue here is the value exchange.  Whether they know it or not, consumers get the short end of the stick; they probably do not even know about today’s data broker marketplace.  If consumers received enough value for being all-in and offering their data, then this will be less of an issue.

Will data warehouses become like banks, where data is the currency on deposit and customers receive a quantifiable value similar to account interest offered by banks?  Probably not and, among other reasons, this is because if a consumer knows their data is on deposit they will want to control where the information is used, unlike in the banking situation where money is money and bank account holders have no real interest in how their interest is earned.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #9

10) Contextual awareness will be enabled by wearable device adoption and become the next big thing in marketing and customer experience.

You would be hard pressed to have attended a session at Glazed where the word context was not used; entire panels discussed contextual awareness!  The topic is hot and it is due largely because of the value that can be derived from contextually understanding a customer, a business situation or the world.  Social media marketing has received its lashings for being ineffective; however, social media along with other data streams can now be utilized to provide contextual marketing messages.  More importantly, context can be used, as Jeff Stevens of ContextM said, “to enhance the customer experience.”   Customer in this context is much more than a person in a store, this could be anyone in any situation, at home, at school, at work, at play, at…

As people rely more and more on their devices to provide them with valuable, relevant information, people will expect and prefer contextually aware information and experiences.  Context isn’t just a topic for the CMO; contextual awareness has the opportunity to impact many aspects of business and all industries, including industries that have been immune from major technology changes because of their rudimentary nature.  It is going to take a decade before we look back at irrelevant ads and experiences void of augmented information based on context the way we look at brick sized cell phones but it will happen; contextual awareness will be the next big thing in marketing and customer experience.

see more in Who to Watch for Prediction #1o

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