Over the last several days, as many of you likely have, I’ve been keenly following updates from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
For those who don’t know, it’s during CES that many new tech gadgets and innovations are revealed, essentially playing the role of a one-stop-shop for where we can get a glimpse of what the future of tech has in store.
Of the many cool new electronic devices being shown off at this year’s show (that I’ve read about thus far anyway) – predictably – it looks as though wearable tech is one of the major trends being observed.
Virtually every major electronics player is diving into the wearable tech ring, each with their own take on what they believe to be the future of this emerging segment.
Pebble, one of the earlier players in wearable tech, and Kickstarter success story raising over $10 million, announced a new model that is very much a Pebble smart watch, but in a new premium form factor.
The Core, Sony’s entry into the wearable market, gathers and logs data from users’ lives and displays it in their Android app, LifeLog. The key differentiator from many wrist-worn devices is that The Core isn’t just about logging physical movement, but about lifestyle information as well. Also, this solely another wristband; it can be affixed to shoelaces, or clipped onto any item of clothing.
Even Intel – typically thought of as being a chip maker – is getting into the wearable game with smart bracelets, pulse-sensing ear buds, a smart watch, a reimagining of a Bluetooth earpiece, and has even partnered with Barneys to create devices that look more akin to pieces made by fashion designers than computer engineers.
This is just a tiny sampling of the huge number of players in the game, and I think it’s safe to say that wearable tech is no trend or fad; it’s here to stay.
Reflecting what we’re already seeing from wearable tech, in the future we’re likely to see a proverbial menagerie of devices released ranging from simple and clever, to complex and sophisticated.
Also, assuming wearables follow trends in innovation that other technology has seen in recent years, we can anticipate that such devices are going to be increasingly connected, able to sense our location and surroundings, and depending on the use-case, able to discretely function, or allow for more involved use and input.
Now comes the fun part; some far-fetched predictions about what impact all of this will have on social interactions brands have with, and digital utility that brands provide to, their audiences.
Only time will tell the accuracy or ludicrousy of any of these predictions, but here we go anyway:
1. New social media platforms will emerge that cater to users of wearable devices
Current social media integration on wearable devices tends to be limited to the receipt of notifications. This is largely due to the challenge that wearable tech presents, as the social media giants we know today were all designed for interaction to take place on screen-based devices. With limited screen real estate on wearables, and in some cases none at all, new platforms will emerge, or legacy platforms will adapt, to facilitate meaningful interactions on wearable tech.
2. Micro interactions will win the day on wearable devices
When social media platforms gain functionality beyond simply displaying notifications, focus and attention will be given to facilitating user interaction on wearable devices. Initially, due to limited methods of input, micro interactions – likes, +1’s, favourites, stars, hearts and thumbs up – will be a primary focus.
3. Data will be logged for social sharing on supporting devices
We’ll continue to see data logged on paired apps and devices for review, sharing and interaction at later times. This will add to the library of content users and brands will have to share with each other, and interact with.
4. Circumstantial content will be created and auto-published, and will be highly contentious
Wearable devices will detect specific circumstances under which to publish updates to new and existing social media networks automatically, or with a simple prompt to approve or disapprove a pre-populated post (think Foursquare check-ins that happen without any prompts, just when you enter a new location). Of course, these updates will prove to be highly contentious due to privacy concerns.
5. Voice recognition will move beyond being a superfluous feature and will have great utility
Again, due to limited inputs on wearable devices, voice recognition and dictation will have heightened utility versus more traditional screen-based devices. Because of this, an entirely new wave of social media platforms and applications will be developed for voice (think Twitter-HeyTell hybrids, voice search, or Siri).
6. Brand adoption will be rampant
Brands are constantly looking for new ways to gain the attention of new consumers, and provide greater value to existing customers to build their value proposition and strengthen loyalty. The relatively inexpensive and scalable application of wearable technology will be highly appealing, and we’ll see few interesting applications, and an absolute glut of useless wearable tech by brands across the globe.
7. Facebook will acquire someone who does it well in the early days
Ha! A new social platform will emerge as providing a great deal of value for users of wearable devices and Facebook will snatch them up.
There are already some brands that have embraced and masterfully applied wearable tech to expand their value proposition and product offerings.
Arguably the most successful of these is Nike and their Fuel Band, which we can look to as being a precursor of what to expect from a variety of brands in the future. The Fuel Band is proof of concept, and it will be immensely interesting to see what Nike, and many other brands have in store.
What’s your take on wearable tech?
Is wearable tech a category that will affect your business category?
How do you see social media being integrated (or not) with these new devices?