Wearable technology is a remarkably fast growing and game-changing trend. According to PwC’s The Wearable Future report released in 2014, 1 in 5 Americans has a piece of wearable technology. There are a wide variety of wearable technologies, the most popular being smart watches. Other pieces of wearable tech include fitness trackers and augmented reality lenses (e.g. Google Glass). Piper Jaffray’s Erinn Murphy and Christof Fischer estimate the wearable tech category will grow from 21 million units in 2014 to 150 million units in 2019, a 48% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
With respect to social media, wearable technologies will bring about numerous changes to how we interact with it. Mainly, wearable technologies will likely increase the usage of voice-based commands. Typing on a watch would be both time consuming and frustrating while it’s simply impossible to type with lenses. Although voice based functions are already available, they are seldom used because most users rely on the keyboard to do most of their communicating. Ideally this increased usage of voice recognition technology will lead to a greater demand which will beget superior voice recognition technology. Furthermore, utilizing voice-based functionality will likely result in social media updates becoming more informal and conversational, thus changing how people communicate across platforms. Additionally, the small screen sizes available on wearable technologies will likely increase demand for more succinct and concise pieces of information. As a result, I anticipate that Twitter will benefit tremendously from the rapid adoption of wearable technologies.
With the adoption of wearable technologies, people will become more accessible than ever, presenting a host of unique challenges and opportunities for advertisers. Instead of going through all of the painstaking seconds that it takes to reach into your pocket and take out your smart phone (and possibly put in a passcode), those lucky individuals living in the future can glance at their wrist or tap on their lenses instantly. Brands must cater their marketing initiatives to ensure that their messages/offers are convenient and simple to capitalize on. Linking users to a site that’s not compatible with a smart watch or other wearable technologies will instantly drive them away. Already marketers must ensure their message is being properly distributed on PC’s, tablets and smartphones, each medium being smaller than the last. With smart watches, marketers will have to create content for screens as small as 38.6mm x 33.3mm.
In a world where a sizable chunk of tech firms’ revenue comes from ad sales, it isn’t a matter of if wearable technologies will have advertisements, it’s a matter of how they will distribute ads. Despite being far more accessible, people are also far more limited in what they can see and do with their wearable technology. Banner ads simply won’t be feasible on smart watches, as they’d take up a significant portion of the screen and no sane person wants a random ad flashed right in their eye via augmented reality lenses. The likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google will have to adjust their marketing strategy in order to monetize their social media platforms.
With this hyperconnectivity, brands will be able to engage with users unlike ever before. Near field communication (NFC) will almost certainly become more commonplace as users continue to adopt wearable technologies. Picture walking by a business, feeling your wrist vibrate and being informed that they’re having a two hour flash sale. Discounts and special offers would only be a tap of a screen away. However, consumers who pay upwards of $17,000 for a smart watch most likely wouldn’t appreciate having their personal space and time encroached upon. Put simply, people don’t want to be coerced into watching ads on a watch, an item that has traditionally been considered fashion apparel.
The advancement of wearable technologies will likely blur the line between social media and real world socializing. When someone takes a photo/video with their phone, more often than not it’s apparent that they’re doing so. With technology such as Google Glass, someone only needs to tap on their glasses and they could live broadcast whatever they like while drawing far less attention. Granted it would be odd to encounter a stranger wearing a pair of Google Glasses glaring at you, and would likely raise cause for concern. Regardless, an increased usage of wearable technology will almost certainly result in more moments being recorded. Sadly, there is a stigma associated with wearing Google Glass. This article details a man’s year wearing Google Glass, during which time people consistently glared at him, felt generally uncomfortable around him and openly referred to him as a “glasshole.” This is likely the result of the technology being so new. I remember when the first iPhone came out, people would consistently gather around at parties to take a look at the cool kid’s new computer phone. Like most technology, it will take time for the people to adjust, but I anticipate augmented reality lenses such as Google Glass and other pieces of wearable technologies will become commonplace within the next decade.