Context

How Does Apple Watch Score Against @WorkTechWork Wearable Predictions?

Apple Watch does not get a perfect score on the WorkTechWork Wearable Predictions that were made in March.  Read on to find out why.  Each prediction is listed, with comments on Apple Watch and a link to more details from the recent industry watch.

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

SCORE!  Apple Watch goes beyond tracking fitness and is more than a fad device.  “The list of features is a mile long,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said when introducing Apple Watch.  While not all of these features have been shared with the public, many of the features will satisfy real customer needs.  There is no doubt Apple understands wearable technology should enrich the lives and health of people and make a difference, a difference from technology working for people.

More on 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.

SCORE!  Apple Watch integrates with Apple’s HealthKit, one of the platform announcements covered in the Wearables Industry Watch for this prediction.

More on 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.

SCORE! Apple Watch combines the information from sensors in the watch and sensors in the iPhone to create Wearable Alpha, value above the value a customer receives based on the use of just the watch or just the phone.

 

AppleWatchWearableAlpha

More on 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.

SCORE! The Apple Watch uses an accelerometer and gyroscope along with optical sensors that use both visible and infrared light.  No other wearable in the market does this.  Through the HealthKit integration Apple and app developers will be able to leverage analytics to derive insights.

More on Prediction 4.

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

TBD: $349 is where pricing starts for the Apple Watch.  There is always a premium for Apple products, especially when they are new.  For now we have to wait to see what happens over time with both the price of the Apple Watch and the costs for the sensors inside.  Bluetooth, NFC and other sensor technologies in the watch have come down in recent years but the focus of the prediction is to look into the future, seeing the costs going down.

More on Prediction 5.

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

TBD: The jury is out still because Apple has not released specifics on the battery for the Apple Watch.  This prediction has two components, energy storage and energy consumption.

The storage question status is TBD but it will be answered soon enough (the battery will probably not benefit from 300% increased capacity from the battery life “Holy Grail” mentioned in the Industry Watch, but we can hope, right?).

Lower energy consumption comes through design, software and functionality that is wearable specific.  Apple did not shrink an iPhone and put a watch band on it; Apple Watch was designed as a wearable.  But, before I can really give Apple Watch a pass on this aspect, I need to get my hands on one and see how good the battery stands up after several full days of use.

More on Prediction 6.

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

SCORE!  From Apple.com: “There is an Apple Watch for everyone.”  With three different collections and multiple bands, Apple Watch provides smart watch shoppers with more options for customizing their smart watch than all of the existing smart watches on the market combined.  These options along with the millions of appearances possible for the digital face earn Apple Watch a coveted place as the leader in fashionable wearable products.

More on 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.

N/A – There could be ultra-sensitive micro sensors inside that we are not aware of yet but if you have the Apple Watch on, people are going to see it.

More on Prediction 8.

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

SCORE!  Because the Apple Watch generates data and it integrates with Apple Pay, people are already asking tough questions about data security and privacy.  Apple, however, stands firm that it is in the hardware, not the data business.  As Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Charlie Rose last night, “I think people have a right to privacy. I think that’s going to be a very key topic over the next year or so, and we’ll reach higher and higher levels of urgency as more and more incidents happen.”

Here are some related links:

More on Prediction 9.

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

SCORE!  The Apple Watch is itself contextually aware; it knows when it is on or off your wrist or when your wrist is turned towards you to look at the watch face.  There will, no doubt, be the opportunity for apps and services to be developed that are aimed at enriching customer experiences.

More on Prediction 10.

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

Wearables Predictions: Who to Watch for Prediction #9

Do you have your wearable-generated data?  Can you even get it?  If you can get it can you use it?  Can you sell your own data?  Can you control who uses your data?  The answer to all of these questions?  no. No. NO.  NO! NO!!

This is the ninth post in a Wearable Industry Watch Series for each of the 10 Wearables Predictions.  Follow this blog or Twitter handle @WorkTechWork to be notified of each part of the series. To view all predictions and links to the other parts of the series, visit the Wearable Industry Watch Series.

Prediction #9:  The debate around ownership of wearables-generated data will continue.

Rachel Kalmar, Data Scientist at Misfit Wearables shared last August she has been wearing 10 different fitness trackers for months.  What does she have to say? “I can’t get my data!”  She makes the point of the value of time resolved data and this illustrates the point that wearable technology is creating data that not only do users not own, they cannot even access it!

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Possession is nine-tenths of the law

Just in case you thought your data was yours, those privacy agreements take care of the final one-tenth of the law.   But, even though it seems like all hope is lost, the debate around ownership of wearables-generated data continues.  Here is look at some examples of things happening in this space

Value is the reason for the debate: Data is worth something

Is the Moves app really free?  Not if you value your data; your data is worth more than knowing how many steps you took (see prediction #1 for how Moves turns your phone into a wearable fitness tracker).  Moves was acquired by Facebook in April and then changed their privacy policy to enable data sharing with Facebook. Data can become insight, insight can trigger action, action that creates value and it is that value that companies are after, it is that value that made Moves an acquisition target in the first place and it is that value that some feel comes at the expense of their privacy.

The debate will continue and it may boil down to context vs privacy (more coming on context with the next prediction, see my thoughts on small town privacy here).  Wearable technology will generate more and more data.  All of it is worth something and when there is something worth fighting for in capitalistic free markets, expect a fight.

So goes Silicon Valley so goes Europe? 

Nope; at least not in the case of data privacy and ownership hence Europe’s right to be forgotten.

One European leader in this debate is the Qiy Foundation whose focus is on giving individuals control over their data, enabling them to share data with only those they trust.  I’m anxious to watch what will come from Qiy, particularly if the consortium can find a way that more value can be created when data is under the jurisdiction and ownership of the data generator.

The right to be forgotten is not necessarily the same thing as data ownership or privacy.  As will many well intentioned rules, it does create its own set of problems.  Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called the right “deeply immoral.”  How could something well intended be deeply immoral?  People are losing the right and ability to access information.

The Debate Continues

Here are some interesting reads regarding what is happening in the debate; this is not a comprehensive list and each is just one small part of the picture.  Enjoy these and dig in further on your own searches around privacy topics.  The short of it is the debate continues.

Facebook Data Privacy Class Action Joined By 11,000 And Counting

Google Spotted Explicit Images Of A Child In A Man’s Email And Tipped Off The Authorities

How Safe is your Quantified Self (white paper by Symantec)

Americans want a better privacy balance

A bag of chips can be used against you

Five Things Privacy Experts Want You to Know About Wearables

Some humorous makeshift ‘wearables’ that take a creative approach to protecting your privacy

Next Prediction: Who to Watch For Prediction #10

Previous Prediction: Who to Watch for Prediction #8

Back to Wearable Technology

Small Towns and Connected-World Privacy

I grew up in a small town, a town with more animals than people and with not even one traffic light until well after I moved away.  Families have lived there for generations.  Everyone knows everyone, their business, their religion, their background.  Those who chose to live in small towns chose to concede privacy for the benefit of community, community safe for business and for family; knowing everyone around you in a small town network is a tremendous safety net.  Image

Our family ran an auto parts businesses.  In small towns you can serve customers in ways unheard of in densely populated areas because you do know everything about your customer.  In some cases frequent customers from town could walk in, say they are changing their oil and my dad or uncles could walk to a shelf and grab the right oil filter for their vehicle without asking more questions.  Along the way they could generate conversation about other maintenance areas for their vehicle that might need to be addressed.  That’s small town personalized service and people love it.  People in small towns can rely on it in more than just an auto parts business, every small town business can personalize their customer experience because they know you, your family, your habits, where you live, where you work, if and where you worship, where you went to school, where you like to fish and on and on.  Small town business owners understand a customer’s context!

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I came to the Bay Area in 1997.  Community is different in a metropolitan area.  Most people don’t even know their neighbors, let alone their neighbor’s oil filter.  Yes, there is a lot of privacy but there is also a lot of mistrust.  People don’t know everyone they interact with and connections and service are not as personalized; that small town familiarity just doesn’t happen.  Not only that, even though humanity has survived for thousands of years with small town familiar type relationships, it seems that sort of familiarity in today’s metropolitan areas is unwelcome.  This presents a service challenge as businesses have grown into large chains with operators who cannot know their customers at a familiar level.

Of course, businesses have tried to scale small town-like personalization because they know of the benefits; that’s why Ritz Carlton tracked which candy bar wrappers were in the garbage in guest rooms on 3×5 cards long before databases could store long-tailed customer data.  When people started buying with credit cards, things started to get easier.  Marketers could get to know their customers by accessing info through data brokers.  Loyalty cards brought more change and insight.  Businesses could analyze a basket of goods and anticipate future behavior.

But then Target determined a daughter’s pregnancy before her father knew and then people became concerned about privacy because they thought marketers were getting too familiar for their own good.  It gets more interesting, though, if you look at the game changing role of the internet and networks.  Why?  Because in order for a network to work, it needed everything to have a unique identifier and MAC addresses were introduced for every electronic device.  Flash to the small town: everybody knowing everybody is a network of people and businesses where one’s identity is akin to a MAC address, all nodes are known to the network.

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Here is a snapshot of the available Wi-Fi signals inside the Walgreens around the corner from my place.  There are five and all five are full strength. They are all secured so this is not Walgreens providing superb free internet to its shoppers.  Having a great connection for staff and registers is no justification for five either; the whole store could be covered with one, maybe two.  There are five because of a little known fact that your phone’s Wi-Fi broadcasts its MAC address and, while I have no insider information on this from Walgreens, my guess is that Walgreens is using MAC address tracking on every MAC address emitting device that comes in range.  There are more than enough points for triangulation through some basic trigonometry, the same math taught in my small town high school, for Walgreens track every Wi-Fi enabled device is as it moves around the store.  With this information Walgreens can not only analyze the basket of goods at purchase but how that basket of goods was constructed.  There could be huge marketing benefits for both the business and the consumer because of that type of analysis at scale.

BUT wait, isn’t this an invasion of privacy knowing how someone walks up and down the aisles in a store and connecting it to what is in the basket at the end of the purchase?!?!?!  Well, go back to the small town stores example.   You might also think about small boutique shops.  In more personal, intimate shopping experiences the shop keeper watches you, interacts with you, knows you and provides you with better service; they know how the basket of goods is constructed and they know to a certain level how it might fit into your life.  Walgreens understanding how their customers construct their baskets of goods is not that different from the thousands of small town store owners who understand how their customers shop in their stores.

Of course, Apple’s announcement that it will randomize MAC addresses affects what Walgreens might be able to do.  However, there are still other ways to circumvent the randomization if a customer ops in.  For example, Walgreens has an app and if a user agrees to install it and use it in store, MAC randomization does not matter because a customer tells Walgreens who they are regardless of MAC randomization so they can know the customer, their loyalty card and so forth.  Wi-Fi also isn’t the only way to detect a phone and Walgreens could partner with ProxToMe and use Bluetooth Low Energy to go beyond simple tracking as I discuss here.

Offering a contextual recommendation or coupon on a smart phone relevant to an individual and their location inside a Walgreens in my book can be just as helpful as an attentive shop clerk in a small town who knows their customer and offers contextually relevant recommendations.  And as far as privacy goes, even if Walgreens knows my detailed purchase history and shopping pattern, it isn’t the same as the small town drug store pharmacist knowing me and knowing what goes in my basket of goods for whatever medical ailments people in my household might have because to Walgreens I’m a number (maybe even a MAC address) and to the small town pharmacist, I’m a neighbor (at one point the pharmacist lived across the street).  There are some things your neighbor ought not to know so go ahead Walgreens, be innovative and partner with entrepreneurs and put technology to work offering contextually aware products and services without telling or being the neighbor.

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

Back to Wearable Technology

Five Trends Enabling Contextual Understanding

Every CMO of every organization needs to understand context and how to leverage it to benefit their customers and their balance sheet.  Context goes far beyond location and Robert Scoble did an excellent job of providing real examples of value derived from situations I will call contextual marketing in his keynote at AWE 2014.

Among other things, Scoble points out five trends enabling contextual understanding:

1)      Sensors

2)      Wearables

3)      Location

4)      Social

5)      Data

ScobleAllAboutContext

Both Dewy Decimal-esque 3×5 card customer tracking in the old days and technology enabled contextual understanding of customers today help marketers deliver the right the right message to the right person at the right time brings the greatest value to both the buyer and the seller of goods or services, a point I make here regarding ContextM and ProxToMe.

Of course all of this ties in to my mantra “Don’t work for technology; make technology work for you.” because marketers who use technologies that leverage context to deliver the most value to their customers are certainly putting technology to work for the marketing dollars under their jurisdiction.

BTLE Enabled Proximity Technology Working for the CMO

I love sitting down with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and hearing what they are up to.  The conversations usually goes well beyond what is on their website because they’re either in ‘stealth mode’ or too busy changing the world to worry about keeping a website 100% up to date.  Their determination to change the word with technology doing new and amazing things for you is absolutely exciting.  Carlo Capello, CEO of ProxToMe is no exception.

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I met Carlo at Silicon Valley’s 2014 Italian Innovation Day and have had the opportunity to chat with him about a wide range of topics as well as to see him pitch (his was one of the 55 Plug and Play pitches I write about here).  Carlo has positioned ProxToMe as a Proximity-as-a-Service solution for proximity based interaction.  What that means to B2C and even B2B CMOs is that using ProxToMe’s patented technology, businesses with mobile apps can first recognize and then share content with customers based on proximity to Bluetooth Low Energy (BLTE) beacons.

Carlo and his team began working with BTLE before Apple’s iBeacon move.  Now that essentially every iPhone is a beacon, ProxToMe’s solution and expertise in this domain mean amazing things for their customers.  “We do for offline businesses what Amazon does online. We let our clients learn more about their customers shopping habits and provide a new direct channel to influence what they buy,” Carlo says.

ProxToMe provides brands and retailers a full hardware and software solution comprised of Bluetooth tags and a mobile SDK (software development kit for my marketing friends).  This way the brand maintains control of the in-app experience and can leverage all of the insight they may have with respect to a particular customer at the point in time they approach a beacon.

Ben Davis from Econsultancy makes the point, “Retail apps still have their place in a mobile optimized world, but they’re increasingly characterized as devices for customer retention.”  ProxToMe helps avoid that characterization by generating customer involvement based on location, a form of context.

With contextually intelligent systems such as those offered by ContextM,  the ProxToMe solution becomes even more powerful because it brings the ability to not only send messages to customers in the store but to send the right message in store, a message that will increase wallet share and improve customer retention and engagement.