Wearable tech took off at CES 2014. DigitasLBi’s Tony Bailey, Vice-President/Group Director, Technology Capability Lead, Chicago & San Francisco, explains why brands need to pay attention to one of the hottest categories in electronics.
Just 1 year ago, there's no way anyone would have convinced me that in 2014 I'd be wearing a plastic bracelet every day. In fact this time last year, the full scope of the Lance Armstrong scandal was just becoming clear, and the ubiquitous yellow bracelet had all but disappeared. Now here I am, the owner of two different brands of fitness trackers, evaluating them based on the experience of the app and the amount of meaningful information they can provide.
The wearables buzz was ubiquitous at CES 2014. Everyone from Intel to LG to established players like Fitbit and Jawbone were talking about their new wearable devices. The explosion has been enabled by new standards such as Bluetooth Low Energy, which allow for continuous data exchange with mobile phones that minimize battery drain. It was also clear that more and more vendors have solved one of the biggest hurdles, the style aspect of the device.
But beyond aesthetics, the device needs to bring value. Survival of the category, like with any new technology, will depend on its ability to change the way we behave. Counting steps to encourage us to get out of our office chair more often is just the first step in a long journey. Smart watches like the Pebble, the Toq and the yet unannounced "iWatch" are about more than Time & Temperature and seeing who is calling.
These watches can be a filter to the countless notifications that inundate us. They’re an intimate spot where a consumer can choose what information s/he is going to receive—and odds are, corporate email is not going to be one of them. But the signals that bring a smile will be: an Instagram like, a Snapchat message or maybe even a favorite retailer's promotion, to name a few. For those select apps that break through to the wearable category, the reward is going to be a deeper level of engagement.
This is all unexplored territory, but it's definitely a space where any brand with an app needs to be paying close attention.