Posted on December 13, 2013 by: Joe Wilson & Anh Ta, Digital Project Manager & Digital Strategist
Information has undergone massive shifts with each sea change in technology. Humans started with the spoken word. Then the written word transformed our view of the world; information no longer had to be memorized. Next came printing, electronic media, digital media and mobile. And now we’re on the verge of something profoundly exciting – the post-mobile world.
Wearable computing is on the brink of exploding. The market for these devices is expected to increase from $750 million USD in 2012 to $5.8 billion in 2018. But this isn’t a world where smartphones will become obsolete. Rather, wearables and other body-integrated technology will change the way we interact with mobile devices. Now, all our actions and moods are potential content. Wearables represent an evolution from tools we use consciously to technology that is an extension of ourselves.
The single greatest promise of wearables is the tight incorporation with mobile and other connected devices, integrating with any Internet-enabled platform such as mobile apps, game consoles, set-top boxes and even something as mundane as a coffeemaker. Imagine never having to set the timer on that brewer again as your wearable detects when you wake up and starts the coffee.
Is there a way that your brand can directly engage with this emerging technology? Find integration points with other existing tools. Consumers don’t want multiple siloed devices. Technology is best when it fades into the background, barely noticeable to users. That’s why technology makes so much sense in wearable form. Glasses and watches are instruments with which people are already familiar. It’s natural for us to look at our wrists and expect to see useful information. Our vision of the world is impacted every day by our glasses. Wearable tech takes something that is already useful and enhances it.
Active vs. Passive Engagement
Computers and smartphones force users to actively engage. “Let me stop what I’m doing and look that up.” Wearables, on the other hand, stay engaged at all times. This unique factor allows them to push information rather than requiring us to pull it from them. Face-recognition technology can tell us with whom we are talking. And GPS sensors can display that our favorite coffee shop is nearby.
The Kickstarter campaign for the NFC Ring touts the ability for a stylish, low-profile ring to unlock your front door, provide contact information through just a handshake and customize settings for other connected devices. These features are available without ever needing to charge the device. The user never has to worry about it. It just works. This type of assimilated convenience is the ambition of all technology.
The task should be to find a problem consumers have that can be solved using post-mobile platforms. A good example is the Sherwin-Williams app for Google Glass. ColorSnap helps consumers select color palettes for home decorating projects. The app shows the exact Sherwin-Williams paint colors to correspond with photos taken through Google Glass. It also saves and shares results and gives directions to the nearest Sherwin-Williams store.
Disney is experimenting with technology that allows transmittal of sound through the body. Inshin-Den-Shin users are able to transmit an audio message via touch – in this instance by touching one’s finger to another person’s earlobe, which generates an electrostatic field that creates vibrations audible to the receiving person. Imagine the day when a parent and child can share a song just by holding hands. The happiest place on earth will all of a sudden be a lot more magical. And in a way that is consistent with Disney’s brand promise of keeping the magic of childhood alive.
So what key factors apply to brands in the post-mobile world?
- Integrate Wearables with Existing Platforms
The world is connected and consumers expect devices to recognize that. Wearable innovation will come in the form of companion technology that can make a seamless transition from one platform to another.
- Solve a Problem
Consumers don’t like advertising, but they do like brands that make their lives easier. Wearable technology presents a unique opportunity to enhance mundane tasks and opens up numerous possibilities for innovation.
- Use Data to Manipulate the World Around You
Wearables allow us to know more about our users than ever before. How can that data be harnessed and used?
Gesture recognition, improved voice-audio recognition and implantable electronics will further push the wearable revolution. In this world, the technology fades into the background. We’re hesitant to call it a separation from technology; in fact, it’s more likely a deeper immersion. The post-mobile world promises seamless interactions between environments and devices. Brands will have to be equal parts clever and less intrusive to keep up with the wearable trends. Blending wearables with the devices that already drive consumers’ digital lives is key to competing in this new and exciting market.