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The Guardian exploring use of wearable technology as news gathering tool

Experimentation: The Guardian is exploring how it can use wearables

The Guardian is exploring ways in which to use wearable technology as a news gathering tool as well as audience consumption platform, according to Guardian group product manager Tom Grinsted.

Speaking to The Drum about how the publisher is preparing for any future boom in the wearable tech sector, Grinsted said the Guardian was exploring a variety of ways in which news could be consumed on different wearable devices such as smartwatches and Google Glass, but added that the Guardian was also considering how wearables could be used to create news as well as consume it.

“We’re looking at how the content we produce is going to be represented or repurposed to be most usable on wearables,” he said, “but we’re also keen on looking at how we can use wearable devices to generate our news in the first place. We’ve just started experimenting with that.

“A good example is we sent a couple of pairs of Google Glass to Glastonbury this year to record reaction and also help as a reporting tool.

“So I think for us it’s two-fold; how does this technology help our consumers to consume our content, and the other is how does this technology help us to create content in new and exciting ways.

“You can imagine plenty of use cases for something like Glass where you can interview people without having to hold a camera – so a one-man-band-type journalist. In cases where you’re reporting in close quarters or where you have to move a lot, having technology that takes a lot of the effort out of producing multimedia content is only ever going to be a useful thing.”

On the consumption side, Grinsted said that the Guardian is considering how smartwatches would work more effectively as a curation device alongside the smartphone as a consumption device.

“For smartwatches we have ideas around the watch being a curation device but the phone being a consumption device,” he said.

“You can see the beginning of our work around that on Android Wear, which we were a launch partner for. Guardian alerts and follow alerts are all optimised for smartwatches at the moment and the idea now is that the smartwatch is the notification and curation device. You can read straight away, or you can save for later to consume on the phone.”

Grinsted added that while the publisher had set itself no timescale on product creation for wearables, he hoped that through experimentation the title could stay ahead of the market.

The Guardian was one of the first brands to take advantage of the Google Glass UK launch earlier this year with a Glass app, and in July Guardian Labs chief Anna Watkins revealed that the publisher was exploring branded content opportunities on the device.

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Angela Haggerty

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