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Smart-wear is undoubtedly the buzz word of 2014 in the world of technological innovation. In an increasingly trendy world, fashion and technology have seamlessly fused into a winning combination producing wearable devices that are ‘smart’, which compute and add immense aesthetical value. Welcome to the world of Wearable Technology! Gone are the ages when computable technology was restricted to desktops and remained ensconced in the realm of Science Fiction. Indeed technology has reached within an arm’s reach both in the literal and figurative sense! Watches that indicate temperatures, T-shirts that light up with LED’s, Athletic gear that changes colour to show the intensity of workout etc were perhaps unimaginable even a couple of decades back. Today Google Glass, Apple’s iWatch, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone are just a few of the scores of products that have come up in the last few years that constitute Wearable Technology. The wide range of capabilities these devices can perform is quite staggering. For example Nissan is developing technology to provide a driver’s car data directly to the driver’s smartwatch.
Wallaby which is a mobile and online credit card optimization solution for the Samsung smartwatch provides users with the ability to make financial decisions. The current global Wear-Tech industry is estimated to be worth around $4.5 Billion with a phenomenal expected growth rate. More than 100 million shipments of wear tech products are expected to be made by 2016. The technological advancements made in this regard are incredibly diverse and cut across several fields such as electronics, sports, medical devices, fitness and lifestyle etc. This unprecedented growth brings with it rich opportunities for marketers. Marketers realize the immense potential of data that can be gleaned from wearables that can receive text messaging, GPS directions, shooting photos/videos, mobile coupons, etc. These wearables are worn like an article or clothing and gather large volumes of information. Different devices record different types of data that can be tailored to suit the preference of the wearers.
Producers and Advertisers have a huge responsibility to extract and manipulate the data that can be used to publish information in the form of demos, testimonials etc that describe consumer preference patterns and provide wealth of knowledge about areas that need to be improved upon to better satisfy the wearer. One of the major beneficiaries of this data boom is content marketers. Here basically the idea is to attract and retain customers by creating and publishing relevant content. So in the case of wearable technology, Augmented Reality and Geolocation technology could allow content marketers to push notifications based on a person’s surroundings. For example, they can send sales alerts when a person walks near a store or price range and number of bedrooms when a person is close to a hotel. The Trulia for Google Glass Application for example has mastered in exploiting this technology. No article on marketing is complete without the mention of Big Data which is the order of the business world today. Almost every major company today has incorporated data analytics into corporate strategy. Considering the big boom in wearable technology, exploiting computing the need of the hour.
The data garnered from devices offer invaluable information and a more granular understanding about consumer’s habits and routines preferences, trends, tolerances and threshold for immediate needs etc. Data pulled from multiple channels can be neatly sliced and segmented and this enables marketers to create campaigns and customize solutions to cater to the users. Cloud based services can leverage this huge potential of the data explosion by storing and crunching numbers on the cloud. All the data procured from devices can be beamed into the cloud. Modern sports and fitness wear technology has made significant progress in this regard. For example, consider an athlete who has a wearable wristband. Training data and analysis could be customized in the cloud based on others who have accomplished similar goals. During training, the wristband could collect important information such as heart rate and location and send this data to the cloud for analysis. The cloud could send relevant information back to the wristband on where to go next and what exactly to do. However it is critical to understand that these opportunities bring with them a complex myriad of problems and challenges.
These range from pure technical limitations to philosophical complexities concerning human behaviour. One of the major technical hurdles in marketing wearable technology is the low battery life. Another important obstacle is in overcoming the shortcomings of wearable devices having a considerably small screen size. Most of the devices don’t have a typing facility and there is hardly space for showing more than a single search result. This severely cripples the search functionality. Next arises another matter of considerable concern in the form of data privacy. With huge amounts of data being churned out, people become more wary of data misuse and understandably have more reservations about increasing personal information being let out in the public. For example very recently bar owners in San Francisco banned Google Glass because of its perceived threat in its ability to record photos, videos and sounds. In this sense marketers face difficulties in reassuring the public that data privacy is of utmost importance and will be looked after.
Wearable device makers then need to work in compliance with requirements of data privacy laws. With the exponential rise of smart devices, and the advent of wearable technology promotes the idea of ‘ubiquitous’ computing and reinforces that the vast world of the web will be accessible anywhere as an integral part of our environment. The industry may still be in its nascent stages with marketers having their fair share of problems to grapple with in promoting these ultra-sophisticated products, but there is no denying that technology giants are constantly on the prowl to grab a major portion of the pie the scope of this industry has to offer.