Some folks wear their hearts on their sleeves. But before long, it's more likely they'll wear their hard drives.
Welcome to the age of wearable tech, where everyday attire from wristbands and eyeglasses to shirts and shoes are transformed into cutting-edge computers designed to receive, transmit, and display information in ways never before imagined.
These gizmos, which often link via Bluetooth to mobile devices and actionable smartphone apps, offer a range of powerful features. Smart glasses such as Google Glass and Epson's Moverio allow users to, for example, browse and shop online, navigate to a destination, enjoy movies and music, and interact with social media. Smart watches such as Sony's SmartWatch 2 and Samsung Galaxy Gear can (depending on the device) dial or receive a mobile call, check the weather, and allow access to email, texts, calendars, and social media capabilities. Specialized displays such as Pivothead's glasses record HD video and shoot still images, while motorcycle riders can attach NUVIZ, Inc.'s Ride:HUD chin bar device to their helmets. And fitness fans can wear high-tech gear that measures everyday activity, monitors calories burned, and indicates exercise efficiency-among them are the Nike+ FuelBand SE and Heapsylon's Sensoria-enabled socks and anklets.
While it would be easy to dismiss this as another flash-in-the-pan fad, consider that Berg Insight predicts sales of wearables such as smart glasses, smart watches, and fitness trackers to reach 64 million units in 2017-a 50.6% per annum increase from 2012, when only 8.3 million wearables shipped worldwide.
In addition, wearable tech will become popular in mainstream markets within 2 to 3 years, per a recent study by SSI that polled more than 3,600 people from seven countries, including the U.S. One out of three respondents were also "very" or "somewhat likely" to buy a wearable device: 65% and 55%, respectively, listed wristbands and smart glasses as their first choice among devices they were most interested in.
EXCITING POSSIBILITIES FOR PUBLISHERS
Wearables offer great potential for digital content providers to expand their reach and offer useful information, products, and services to customers in dynamic new ways. Annie Scott Riley, senior social engagement manager at Carmichael Lynch Spong in Minneapolis, says body-worn gadgets allow consumers to have even more immediate access to content than they ever had before.
‘Rather, content may need to transform to Twitter-like nuggets or always be delivered to these audiences in video format.'
"Whether users are Googling content from their faces or sharing it from their watches, publishers need to think beyond desktop, mobile and tablet delivery, both from the perspective of online and offline user experience," says Riley.
Devices such as Google Glass can also open new doors to the personalization of digital content.
"Imagine tailored content that's delivered to the end user at the ideal time and place and in the format of their choosing or automated based on their lifestyles or other habits," says Andrew Cross, wearable practice tech area lead at Walker Sands Communications in Chicago.
Steve Papermaster, CEO of Appconomy in Austin, Texas, has no doubt that wearables will have a huge impact on the content industry. "You can advertise or push selected content to pinpoint targeted individuals while they are at the maximum likelihood to purchase," Papermaster says. "That can be while they are exercising, walking through a store, or even at a sporting event. Augmented reality can now move mainstream as the ability to see people, places, and things becomes perpetual through the lenses of smart glasses and sensors. So the reach of content providers, publishers, and advertisers becomes almost omnipresent."