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 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.
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