WEARABLES & LIFE+: Jeff Malmad

Mindshare defines ‘wearables’ as any technology worn by a human externally that is ‘beyond the three screens’ and that integrates with a human’s own biometric characteristics, which includes activity trackers, smart watches, augmented reality devices, fitness watches, sensors, and the broader spectrum of health-related devices.

In the near future, the world of wearables and sensors will become omnipresent in our daily routines.  Mainstream activity within this space is growing and these 10 factors will help elevate the use of wearables through 2014.

  1. Health and Wellness are becoming more and more engrained in the general public and consumers are finding health and activity applications beneficial. According to Flurry, they have seen a 62% increase in usage of health and fitness apps over the past six months. This compares to 33% increase in usage for the mobile app industry in general (active sessions). Growth in health and fitness is 87% faster than the industry, which is itself growing at an astounding rate.
  2. Advertising has done a great job promoting the devices and usage of this area from a paid media perspective, the latest iPhone commercial showcases health and activity as a core component of the device highlighting apps and capabilities that could be leveraged to improve your life.
  3. Style statement with early adopters and fashion publications. Wearable technology has been highlighted at fashion shows and in public eye with celebrities and athletes. Google Glass has partnered with Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley to create a more stylish and mainstream Glass.
  4. Social and Two Screen Integration with mainstream programs and activities, the latest season of Big Brother has the contestants wearing activity trackers to rank the Houseguests from most active to least active, resulting in potential rewards or punishments throughout the season based on activity.
  5. Costs of devices are coming down as more and more hardware is introduced to the market, sensors are becoming less expensive and operating systems are integrating open APIs within the ecosystem.
  6. Competition with smartphones in terms of usability, to date, the best wearable has been your smartphone; this will continue to be the glue that connects. Sensors and products will become smarter and smaller. Additionally, with rumors of an iWatch we already have seen announcements and products in the watch space from Microsoft, Google and Samsung.
  7. Launch of HealthKit from Apple and Google Fit platform. Both will drive developers and hardware providers to create experiences for consumers that can help with product usage sustainability.  This will also help drive standards in a market with none.
  8. Results and word of mouth, there was an uptick in the usage of health and fitness apps and purchase of wearables during the 2013 holiday season, results for consumers take time to pay off.  With the summer here and looking to the second half with new product announcements and holiday/new year resolutions, look for more uptick.
  9. Rewards for health and wellness, begin to see the tracking of consumers health activity to your insurance company on a opt in basis. For example, Humana launched Humana Vitality points that rewards people for living a healthy active lifestyle and you are tracked through wearables.
  10. Brands provide value and experiences through challenges or gamification of activity. This will become more common as brands begin to leverage activity challenges and leaderboards in their social.

For brands to resonate in this experience, we must provide additive experiences and value to the consumers in a non-intrusive natural way. As we work to build upon current programs and create future ones, lack of imagination will be the only thing holding us back.