CES 2015 Trends To Watch: Wearables

As in years past, we’ll see a lot of wearable products on the floor at CES in 2015. Many of these products, however, will likely become obsolete only a few months after the show. The culprit, Apple’s Watch, scheduled for release in early 2015. The tech community is already referring to this period leading up as “Before Apple Watch” (BAW).

When it comes to wearables, we are on precipice of an explosion in consumer adoption. The Global Smart Wearable Market Forecast & Opportunities predicts, wearables penetration to hit 275MM by 2019.

Two area’s I’ll be watching closely at CES include haptic technology and biometrics.

WIRED Magazine defines haptic technology as “any form of nonverbal communication involving touch.” In an August 2014 article, WIRED refers to this advancement as the “Neo-Sensory Age,” a technology movement that takes previously inanimate objects and brings them to life through touch and feedback. Most wearable devices already use this tech in simple form. For instance, Jawbone’s UP band provides vibrations in their alarms feature to wake consumers up or serve reminders. In the coming years, however, the way these devices communicate with their owners will begin to evolve notifying them of the data from their surrounding environments as well as vary the cadence of the vibration based on emotions or as unique identifieers, similar to the way ring tones do today.

Biometics on the other hand has enormous potential for furthering preventative healthcare. Advancement in sensor technology are allowing wearable devices to monitor our heart rate, VO2 max, sympathetic nervous response, blood glucose levels, EKG, temperature and much more. Essentially, this technology has the ability to democratize what previously required a laboratory visit. While not replacement, certainly an aid in early detection. In addition to the physiological data and emotional data could be a game changer for marketers. Imagine your consumer is watching say — the Superbowl, wearing a device that’s tracking their physiology and then serve an emotionally informed message aligned or creative rotation aligned with that content experience in real-time. Far out but not that far. TechCrunch recently published a great article on biometrics and worth a read.

On the floor, expect to see every type of wearable you can imagine whether it’s a watch, head-worn device, jewelry or even sensor-laden fabrics. At the end of the day, my belief is that consumers will decide where on their bodies a sensor, well — makes the most sense. For marketers, we need to exhibit restaint as this technology usage continues to rise. Like mobile devices, the act of over-notification vs utility could cause significant consumer backlash.

7 examples of brands are testing wearables right now

  1. Coca-Cola has its own fitness and sleep tracker created in partnership with Misfit, called the Shine Coke Red Edition. Coke created a the game called “Just Dance Now,” part of an effort to promote active lifestyles and hosted a dance off in Paris where the bands could be paired. According to Coca-Cola’s website, future plans are in the works to deepen other consumer experiences through music, health and their own corporate wellness programs.
  2. Disney’s MagicBand allows visitors at Disney theme parks to buy food , merchandise, check into their hotels and more. With the tap of the band customers can open their hotel room doors, check in at fast-pay locations and connect to the Disney PhotoPass experience throughout the park.
  3. Diageo is rumored to be testing applications to promote responsible drinking. This idea of monitoring digital behaviors with the intent of promoting positive and responsible behaviors is certainly the right way to think of applications for this technology.
  4. Porsche “Art of the Thrill” Porsche used Hexoskin Shirts to monitor biometrics from 25 drivers testing their new Macan model. The shirts measured the drivers breathing, heart rates, acceleration and other data points in real-time to map each driver’s unique “thrill” experience identifying at which point in the race each driver’s highest “thrill.”
  5. Amtrak became the first brand to buy programmatic wearable ads enlisting FitAd, an early-stage wearables ad network to deliver messages to consumers on golf courses promoting their Acela Express routes on the east coast. Ads were delivered via GolfShot on SONY and Samsung Smart Watches. You can read the full article in AdWeek here.
  6. Intel released a prototype for their smart shirt targeting the exercise set, particularly cyclists. The product uses conductive microfibers to tell those wearing the shirt information about their heart rates that can be transmitted to any blue-tooth enabled smart phone.
  7. Virgin Atlantic started testing Google Glass and SONY smart watches this February to enable flight attendants to assist first-class passengers in the check in process personalizing and enhancing the customer experience.