change

Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #10

Skully Helmets captured my attention in January at the VLAB Young Entrepreneurs event.  That night Marcus Weller, Skully Helmet CEO, told an amazing story about his inspiration for the worlds smartest helmet.  Following an accident where he totaled his bike when the car in front of him slammed on its brakes while he was reading a street sign, Weller had a dream where he was reliving the accident.  “But I noticed something very different,” Weller said, “I had GPS navigation kind of floating in front of me like a hologram and I watched as the car hit the brakes and I went around it.”  When internet searches returned no results for the helmet, Weller built a team and product that, among other features, incorporates location based GPS navigation into a helmet.  Location is a form of context.  The point of sharing Weller’s story is to introduce context and the final industry watch for the 10th wearable prediction.

 Josh Bradshaw with Marcus WellerJosh Bradshaw of WorkTechWork.com with Marcus Weller, Skully Helmets CEO August 14, 2014

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

This is the tenth and final post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series for details.

Weller’s contextually aware helmet is one example of a person’s location context being used to generate value for the wearer.  The wearer’s experience is enriched with information.  My first introduction to technology enabled contextual awareness came through Jeff Stevens, Founder & CEO of ContextM.  Stevens rightfully demoted content from its place as king in the world of mobile marketing and claims that in mobile marketing “Context is king, and content is queen.”

How so?  Enabled by computational power and data from data warehouses, social streams and wearable devices, marketers can go beyond targeting based on generalized segmentation:  relevant messages can be sent to a person by creating a complete understanding of several different forms of a person’s context.  These include but are not limited to a person’s location, who a person is with, where a person has come from, and, with the power of predictive analytics, where the person might be going next.  (For those interested in privacy, check out Who To Watch for Prediction #9 and Small Towns and Connected-World Privacy.)

Enrich Customer Experiences With Wearable Data

Context is about more than targeted marketing based on ambient intelligence; context is also about enriching customer experiences.  Customer experiences can be enriched in many ways which means there are applications of context out there yet to be discovered in the world of wearables.  Context can also be built in such a way that a device can understand its own context as well as the context of the user.

Sensor Platforms, which was recently acquired by Audience, developed FreeMotion™ Library, a software solution that enables sensor enabled device applications to better understand both the contexts and, where possible, the intent of a user engaging with a device.  For the purposes of this discussion we can consider smart phones as wearables because of their numerous sensors (and decorative cases people use to make a statement about who they are; see Who to Watch for Prediction #7).

FreeMotion™ enabled applications can understand various device contexts such as whether the phone is in a pocket, in a hand or sitting on a flat surface.  Similar to other fitness tracking wearables and the Moves App, user contexts can be derived from sensing current motion in the device.  Combined with location or other forms of context, the device can respond differently because sitting on the sofa at home is quite a different context from sitting in a train or sitting in a meeting at work.  As sensors consume energy, a focus on resource management is also made in order to improve energy consumption on the device (learn more about energy consumption in Who to Watch for Prediction #6).

Vehicles, Wearables & Context

No one is going to wear a car, but the car is becoming contextually aware.  Vehicles are now able to detect and communicate with phones and soon will be able to interact with other wearable devices.   We can look at contextual aware cars such as Google’s self-driving car, which has to be acutely aware of its own environment, for inspiration on context with wearables.

Lane assist technologies and automatic braking such as those  demonstrated in this stunt video by Hyundai are becoming available in a number of vehicles.

Mercedez Benz is developing amazing innovations for their smart cars.  Check out this Mercedes Benz contextual car demo with Robert Scoble, Startup Liaison Officer for Rackspace

And when it comes to amazing, a return to Weller and the contextually aware smart helmet is in order.  People are willing to support contextually aware innovation.  Only a few days into an Indiegogo campaign, Weller and his team have exceeded their $250k goal for the AR-1 by an astonishing 466% with over $1.1 million raised.  I tested it out at their offices yesterday and it is better than all the hype.Josh Bradshaw with AR-1

This is the last post in the Wearable Industry Watch.  For more details click here.

Back to the 1st Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #1

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #9

Back to Wearable Technology

Advertisements

Technology Offering Brands Effortless Mobile Shopping

Brands provide luxurious retail experiences, experiences unique to the brand, experience that are the brand. While brands have managed to own the in store experience, the brand experience is not replicated online. Each website only gives you more of the same inconvenient browsing and shopping carts. The virtual browsing and carts do not mirror the in-store brand experience.

Granted, some online brand experiences are better than others. Burberry successfully created one of the best online brand experiences out there today. They have great pictures and a sleek website. Their models actually are wearing the clothing as opposed to it being photo-shopped on. The Burberry site learns what you are interested in and after a short data collection period it is obvious their system harnesses the power of analytics turning data into insight in the form of relevant product suggestions. Moreover, the Burberry ADD TO BAG button uses the word bag and not the word cart, making it obvious the brand manager focuses on the experience.

Burberry's Add to Bag

BUT it is still the same click to add to a virtual shopping cart mentality. You do not get the same experience as in the store, where hands are involved as a product is touched, examined and then purchased. It does not matter the type of store; online shopping is not the same as in-store shopping.

Grability co-founder and CEO Sebastian Mejia and his team took this issue to heart when creating their solution. He explained that the Grability product is “an online customer experience so simple that no one is excluded from using it. It takes the real life shopping experience and brings it to your mobile device. Grability, based in New York, is the new paradigm of how shopping should be: immediate, gratifying, fun, universal and simple.”

Grability is working with large retailers all over the world, including Europe’s largest department store El Corte Ingles.  Have a peek at Grability’s solution for grocery retail:

Grability Video

(Click to play video demo)

No online shopper will want anything but the ease and simplicity of shopping with their fingertips ever again. The Grability retail experience pales all existing solutions by magnitudes and is the perfect example of technology working for you to make life simpler. Retailers who fail to provide experiences like Grability’s patented technology will be left behind.

Marketers who see this solution know it is the perfect setup for A/B testing. But something is more important: Virtual shelf space will become more valuable than the most expensive physical shelf space in any retail store. The world of brand management in every retail space just changed.

It changed most for online retailers offering products from multiple brands because online shoppers can now shop in virtual aisles much the way they browse physical store aisles. “Forget about banners,” Mejia said. “This is the most valuable form of mobile advertisement; non obtrusive, targeted and closest to the purchase intent.”

With high quality data, Grability enables further segmentation and new niches can be found. The real power of the Grability solution is that brands can now pay for placement within the online shopping environment exactly the same way they pay for placement in store. With insight from Grability into every individual placement, the value of those placements just went way up.

For decades retailers have only been able to analyze a basket of goods after that basket is filled. Now they have the ability to see exactly how people shop. With the insight gained, they can provide a virtual store designed for the individual that is so personal there is no reason to shop in any other way or in any other place. In the coming decade customers will be disinterested when they are not presented with what they want and completely turned off when the experience is not easy, simple and beautiful.

“Grability is not stopping with food,” Mejia told me. “Grability will spread to every product, especially the products of luxury retailers who wish to optimize the best mobile experience and enable brands to leverage their brand equity in the online world.” His team is able to produce some very convincing sample solutions with high end brands such as Clinique, Dior, Jimmy Choo, and Valentino as well as samples for retailers like Walgreens and Rite Aid.  In every case, the gentle swipe of a finger guides the product to your cart, bag or scale.

Dior

Absolut

RiteAid Cold & Flu

RIteAid Cereal

Whole Foods Produce

These interfaces represent effortless mobile shopping that mirrors the real experience in such an innovative way it is actually a better experience than shopping in the store. Shopping is no longer about the retailer getting a consumer into their experience; retailers must now bring their experience to the consumer wherever they are in the world with whatever device they are using. In online markets, brand promiscuity is only a click away. When your branded experience is in the pockets of everyone in the world and it feels as natural as the Grability solution, the chances of brand abandonment go down.

Grability’s superb report card includes reducing cart abandonment by 70% over other solutions offered by the same retailer. They rightfully earned a place among the winners of the Intel Challenge and were selected as one of the top 25 finalists to compete in the global challenge in Silicon Valley last fall.

Grability boasts a 600% increase in mobile sales and 300% increase in total online sales over a four month period for Colombian retailer La Rebaja. Is some of this cannibalization? Probably but a big chunk of it is coming from competitors and it is better to cannibalize on your in store shopping, where margins are thinner, inventory costs are higher and operations eat at your profitability, than to see yourself eliminated by innovative competition. Does anyone remember a book store called Borders

I mentioned Grability to a friend on Facebook:

GrabilityFBChat

Instacart beware: this is one of your customers and Grability has you beat with just a video clip! I’ve looked at Instacart as well as Netgrocer, Peapod, Safeway Online Grocery Delivery, Walmart To Go, Meijer and Costco among other online shopping solutions. Every one of them could benefit from working with Grability.  “Our goal is to continue making customers happy by providing the best shopping experience and make Grability the standard way of buying products in mobile” said Mejia

It comes as no surprise that Grability has been profitable since delivering their first product. They’ve also built their product with no outside investment, no seed, no A round (at least not yet and Mejia declined to comment). Investors and brand managers can only imagine what some well managed capital will do inside this company that puts technology to work for you.

Two thoughts from the PITME Catalyst Conference

Yesterday I attended the PITME Catalyst Conference in San Francisco, CA.  The conference highlighted the work of entrepreneurs in the Middle East as well as provided engaging conversations surrounding entrepreneurship in various areas.  As a technologist, the conference excited me because of its entrepreneurial nature and all of the entrepreneurs who participated in the event were leveraging technology to one extend or another.  As a global citizen, having lived outside of the US twice, the conference excited me because I know that with the internet, every business with a website, even in far off places in hard to pronounce regions of the world, is an international business.

The conference has me thinking two things this morning.  First, the internet is in the hands of more and more people every day, especially in the Middle East.  Of course this is not something new to cross my mind; however, I was reminded of it again yesterday.  Some people in the region have never owned a computer, let alone heard dial up or even enjoyed browsing at high speed.  Yet, they have connected mobile devices and are now connected to the world.  These devices are in the hands of everyone, from the upper echelons of society all the way down to the street beggars, who may have to stop begging for a moment to take a call on a smart phone, as Vivek Wadhwa experienced during recent travels.

The second thing I’m thinking about is a similarity between each of the presenters, both in the panels and in the pitch demonstration.  There were people from all over the Middle East, men and women with different backgrounds and varying ideas in products, in services, in software yet they all had something in common.  They are all working at change.  Embedded deep in each entrepreneur, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world, is the desire to see change.  These entrepreneurs meet with resistance to change as there are many who see change but do not want to make changes.  Yet, with technology, resistance to change is futile.  The best entrepreneurs understand how people work, and how to combat the resistance to change.   Regardless of industry, entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate embracing change while championing technology solutions that invite their customers to change.