Paving The Way for Wearables

[:en]By Sibel Gray, Wearables Lead, Internet Marketing Association

This winter I embarked on a journey to get in shape. Along the way, I developed a dependency on fitness trackers to gain insight and evaluate my training routines and check my progress. The data gathered by these activity trackers was eye-opening, and the realization that this is only the beginning was even more staggering.

For me its just health and fitness data. For brands wearables will pave the way to covetable information. The digital communities and data created by a single device banded to our bodies are kind of scary and give us a glimpse of the future we face.

By 2018, the wearable market is estimated to be worth 12.6 billion U.S. dollars according to Statista. Approximately 40% of individuals who participated in the survey indicated their interest in these technologies, with 48% revealing they would use it for health and fitness purposes. The global wearable technologies market is forecasted to grow to around 134 million units, and wearable device market to grow around 6 billion U.S. dollars by 2018. These statistics are an indication of an industry that is on the verge of exploding.

These cutting edge technologies go beyond smart watches and fitness trackers. They include high-tech clothing, glasses, contact lenses, fashion accessories such as rings, earrings, bracelets, head-bands, bags etc. They can either be worn on the body, or even ingested (e.g. smart pill technology). These embedded mini computers essentially have the capability from measuring heart rate, movement, breathing patterns, activity tracking, and analyzing sleep patterns to remote monitoring patients and diagnostic imaging.

Most products out on the market are still in their infancy. However, they will get smarter, and capable of logging a lot more data. Wearables will become more sophisticated, and will continue to gather valuable data pertaining to our health and fitness history, our buying behaviors, emotional state and moods. These biometrics will provide further insight, and analytics for marketers and advertisers that have been absent before.

Brands will be able to gauge emotional reactions to products and services in real-time, allowing them to improve their marketing plans from just targeting customers based on geo-location. The mined data will also create opportunities for brands to engage customers in unique ways, such as forming personal relationships with them based on their physical and emotional feedbacks.

Ultimately, marketers are going to have to personalize experiences for the end user, and provide justifiable benefits if they are going to target advertisements and market products based on and individual’s habits and lifestyles. In addition, marketers will need to demonstrate sensitivity to valid privacy and security concerns raised for wearables. Balancing public mistrust and worry against profitable insight is going to be a thin line to walk.

After trying various wearables, I now realize the way we connect online, our interactions – including our online social habits – will evolve. Wearables can inspire us to live healthier and motivate us to reach our personal goals. However, the devices themselves will need to mature in style and functionality. Rather than providing raw data for health metrics these devices will need to deliver actionable insight to make them worth wearing first.

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