CES wearable technology: Experts from Vserv, IAB and WeSEE discuss

By Ishbel Macleod | PR and social media consultant

January 9, 2014 | 6 min read

New technology is being unveiled at the CES in Las Vegas this week, with wearable technology which measures and logs details one of the big areas of discussion.

Sony has announced a "SmartBand" allied to a "LifeLog" which captures your smartphone actions, while Runphones has a sweatband which tracks your performance when running. This all comes on the back of news that 68 per cent of people say they would be too embarrassed to wear Google Glass in public.

The Drum caught up with experts in the area of mobile and advertising to see what effect this could have on the sector.

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Adrian Moxley, CMO and co-founder, WeSEE

These devices will become a more personal extension of our smartphones and tablets by being worn on the body. Fitness is an obvious use for these – taking things like pedometers and exercise tracking apps one step further. The other main area that this technology is developing is ‘visual wearables’, such as smart watches. With the launch of Google Glass product set to be announced too, visual wearables are likely to burgeon in the coming year. Once we begin to see mass adoption of these products, it will redefine how we view and interact with the world around us. Based on use, the devices will be able to offer personal recommendations for entertainment, shopping and dining, and of course, keep us plugged into social. While wearables offer a great opportunity to reach a large cross-section of early adopters and on-the-go consumers, brands must be consider consumer concerns regarding the amount of personal data being collected on them. With many individuals fearing a “Big Brother” style future, successful brands will be those that mine data and show consumers that they are doing so to provide superior user experiences. Undoubtedly, these hyper-aware and location-based devices will open new advertising opportunities and the less intrusive these are the better. For example, if the devices are used as personal media streaming devices, advertisers have an opportunity to offer smart, overlaid targeted adverts depending on the content that is accessed via the devices. Alternately, if consumers are viewing lots of images of clothes using Glass, sponsored ads could be targeted at their device. How brand advertisers will make the most of these new technologies still remains to be seen, but wearables could shake up media consumption habits, and therefore digital advertising, as much as smartphones first did a few years ago.

Alex Kozloff, head of mobile, IAB UK

With releases from players such as Sony, Intel and Netatmo at this year’s CES, wearable technology is topping the headlines across the world. Ear buds and wristbands have never been so buzz worthy - but what does this mean for marketers? We’re still some time off seeing mainstream marketing of scale through these technologies, but I think the opportunities are exciting. If today your ear buds allow your music to match your heart rate and connected toothbrush can monitor your family's dental hygiene via a smartphone app, it’s not a leap to apply the same technology and creative thinking to make marketing even more relevant and useful in the future. Wearable technology brings the consumer even closer to the tech they already rely on, providing marketers an opportunity to carve a role for themselves as part of that experience to engage with their customers in increasingly exciting ways.

Simon Robinson, senior director marketing & alliances EMEA, Responsys

Recording an individual's activities on an interactive timeline, Sony's new "life-logging" software will enable brands to understand consumers like never before. As marketers realise the importance of understanding a consumer's likes, dislikes and past behaviour in order to build effective relationships, Sony offers a powerful personalisation tool that has the potential to transform how marketers reach and engage with individuals. However, with many consumers anxious about the amount of data collected on them, marketers will need to be transparent about what information they are collecting and how they will use it to improve the customer experience. How brands will harness this technology remains to be seen, but looking at consumer smartphone actions will be essential in order to improve the marketing experience. The most successful marketers will be those who respond to individual consumer behaviours and use carefully chosen information to orchestrate a co-ordinated and integrated campaign across all touch points in order to win customer loyalty in the long-term.

Dippak Khurana, CEO, Vserv

We’re seeing so many wearable devices hitting the market this year, from Google Glass to smart watches like Pebble, and advertisers will have to take notice if they hope to engage users beyond the point of mobile and PC. Through cross-device consumer targeting, advertisers will need to adopt marketing strategies that reflect the multi-screen, consumer lifestyle. We will definitely see a scramble from content creators in the coming years to capitalize on these new products as they try to reach their forever-connected consumer. It’s not just the developed markets anymore either. Emerging markets are showing continued growth with Android crossing 80 per cent of the world’s smartphone market. It’s only a matter of time until we see more of these wearable devices in areas like India and Latin America, which means that brands will need to be more focused on their audience and tailor ads to the device, rather than just a blanketed approach.”

Jim Dowing, managing partner, Cake

Wearables, conclusively, is the dominant trend of the conference. A good job too, many would argue. Fashions may change – but they don’t if you work in the male-dominated consumer tech industry. A nice pair of chinos, a checked shirt (white crew neck T-shirt barely covering unsightly chest-meets-throat hair) and a cumbersome laptop bag have operated as a uniform for a solid twenty years. That uniform is now neatly accessorised across a number of body parts. Eyes, wrists, necks, ears and heads are just some of the appendages that can now work in synch with the smartphone – most notably Sony’s SmartBand – which life-logs your activity and movement. This is CES though, the pace of change continues at breakneck speed. We should enjoy this ‘wearable’ outer stage. Research in the FT shows that a growing number of people are open to the idea oftattoos on skin with embedded sensors, or implants measuring heart rates. In 2015, ‘wearables’ may begin their evolution towards ‘internals.’


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