Wearing Social Media

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).

Wearable-Tech

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.

'And this wearable smartwatch sends a text to my wearable smartglasses to let me know when I'm not wearing any pants.'

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.

A new Apple Watch is seen during an Apple event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, September 9, 2014. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

The 18-Karat $17,000 Apple Watch. Why buy a car when you could get a watch?

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.

9 comments

  1. Great blog post! I was struck by two of your points: 1) Your mention of voice recognition changing how social media is used. I imagine voice recognition resulting in declining use of social media. Social media is often used for private messaging, or for communicating things that we would not necessarily voice out loud. Ultimately, I imagine the rise of voice recognition having a negative impact on social media as people will feel like the might as well call to talk to someone or wait to tell someone something in person if they have to say it outloud anyways!

    2) I loved your point about smartwatches alerting us of deals at stores as we walk by. This would be extremely powerful technology, and I truly think that convenience and money saving purposes like this will be the reason that smartwatches are eventually adopted by the public. I am interesting to learn more about how this technology unfolds. To me, it still seems so futuristic!

  2. Great Post. Wearables are definitely changing the world around us. With more and more new innovations everyday, it has become very hard to cope with all these introductions. One thing I thought about when reading your article was: the voice based functions. Siri has been around for many years, but people barely use it because artificial intelligence is yet not fully there. Siri doesn’t understand many of the things we say, because of hard word usage, sound, or accent. Improvements should be made before this tech catches up. Moreover, even though wearables help in many things, their limited size ( as you mentioned) seems to be unattractive. I will still look at my big iPhone screen to communicate, share and talk rather then look at a few inches screen. Loved the post, great content, and definitely made us think of where wearables are taking us. But the question is: Do you think they will become the hit?

  3. What is really funny about the idea of wearables for me is that I LOVE the idea of them, being able to communicate quickly and have technology interact with our bodies is something that I think would make social media and communication alot less intrusive to daily conversation than having to pull our phones out constantly. Like when I saw the Google Glass concept about being able to see directions with the glasses, I was so excited. The funny part for me is that I really haven’t been able to find any type of wearable so far that I truly enjoy. The designs seem too small, too obtrusive, or not really usable. What I think needs to come next is some type of integration of a full-sized smart phone screen onto our wrists, much like the arm bands people use to run and listen to music with. I saw one concept where the screen was projected on your wrist by a small band device that linked to your smartphone. Now there is a wearable design I can get onboard with!

  4. Great post! I agree that always on tech will enable us to interact with social media much faster. Google glass and others will make sending snapchats or instagram pics incredibly fast and easy and hence reduce the already small barrier to post our lives online. The technology of location aware messaging is already here and works through BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons) and can be accurate enough to send marketing or promotions in each aisle of a departmental store. It requires you to check your phone so it hasn’t taken off that much. But you make a great point that wearables will make it much more easier for shoppers to check the promotions and companies to target those customers. The adoption is increasing daily and hopefully we will see some amazing things come out of it.

  5. I recently did my presentation on wearable tech, so I really appreciated the insights you brought!

    In particular, the effects of advertising seem to bear a lot of truth. Marketers will have to get more creative, but then again, the new medium will allow for new creativity. Cool idea from @nayyarp12 about location-based notifications as a potential source.

    Based on my prior research, it seems like a major segment of the wearable community (especially with smartwatches) is the health/fitness community. I wonder how advertisers will take that into consideration.

  6. Nice blog post. Not sure I agree about the necessity of advertising (you get ads on your iphone), but I agree that how we integrate this into our lives is going to be an interesting debate/ process. I, for one, really look forward to the day of augmented reality, where I can see digital data on top of the real world. It will make life much easier in so many ways. You might like https://vimeo.com/46304267

    1. That was a really cool video. If you like the idea of augmented reality, check out the show Black Mirror, specifically season 1 episode 3, “The Entire History of You.” The episodes don’t relate to each other so there’s no need to start from the beginning. Here’s the synopsis from imbd: “In the near future, everyone has access to a memory implant that records everything they do, see and hear – a sort of Sky Plus for the brain. You need never forget a face again – but is that always a good thing?”

      It’s a great show. It takes a look at the darker side of future technologies/policies.

  7. Great post — I can say from experiencing with my watch that social experiences are different when you are wearing the device. Responding back and forth quickly with preset phrases and emojis works way better than you may expect, and I am looking forward to the time when there are even more options and expanded inputs. I have never used the Google Glass device, but I think it was an exciting concept. Thank you for sharing the article about the man who wore Glass for a year — won’t this article be fun looking back, when we are all wearing similar devices in the future? He focuses so much on how uncomfortable he makes people — but I suspect that will change.

  8. Really interesting post. With wearables, tech companies are treading into unknown territory: fashion. Up until now, fashion hasn’t mattered a great deal with technology; your computer and phone are essentially boxes with screens on top. Sure, tech is slowly turning into great design (thank you Jony Ive), but I think we’re really going to see this with wearable technology.

    If you’re going to wear something, you have to like how it looks a lot. Apple and Motorola are doing a pretty good job of bridging the tech/fashion gap with their watches, but most other brands are really not doing well at all. I think one of the bigger reasons Google Glass failed was that it looked really goofy; there was zero sex appeal there. This is going to be an area where companies are going to have to up the ante – possibly even partner with fashion brands just like Apple is doing with Hermès.

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