We've heard a lot of talk about Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear. We're anxiously awaiting Apple's next move. But are wearables still all hype? In her insight presentation, "What Wearables Mean For Marketers," at the iMedia Breakthrough Summit, Sarah Rotman Epps, senior analyst, Forrester Research, shared her findings.
Epps is a "Glass Explorer," she said, sharing a photo of herself caught in a moment of delight as she received an unexpected phone call via Google Glass. "Another reason I love this photo," she added, "is because it captures the last truly happy moment I had with Google Glass." Why is she down on Google Glass? Epps went on to explain to attendees just what's hype and what's reality in this space.
Myth No. 1: Wearables are mainstream now.
In reality wearables are still niche. Six percent are using wearable tech to track sports performance, 5 percent track sleep quality, 5 percent track daily activity, and 3 percent track back posture. In other words, it's still early. But according to Epps, research shows that people are surprisingly open to the idea. When asked what they would be willing to try as a wearable device, 29 percent said a clip on clothing, 28 percent said the wrist, and 12 percent said glasses. Some even said tech embedded in clothing was a the best idea, and 3 percent said they would have tech tatooed on their skin. Tim Cannon, co-founder of Grindhouse Wetware, is one of a few people already engaging in what is being called "body hacking or "biohacking."
Myth No. 2: Wearables are great for health tracking but not much else.
The reality here, Epps says, is that consumers are interested in a variety of scenarios. Disney is breaking ground with its "magic band." And according to a research, 44 percent of respondents would be interested in tech that allows them to unlock their car or house so they don't have to carry their keys. Respondents were open to many other ideas. Twenty-nine percent said they would like to use tech to track their child's activity.
Myth No. 3: Smart watches will be the next big thing.
The truth? They are overhyped. Epps pointed out that smart watches have been around more than a decade. And watches are on the decline. Sure, Galaxay Gear will have few takers, she said, but an Apple product will show more promise.
For Epps, the biggest problems with wearable tech today are limited battery life and faulty hardware. Users also complain of chart fatigue, saying that while they are interested at first, their data quickly becomes boring and predictable. However, as we begin to address these problems, adoption will grow. Epps highlighted that although currently overhyped, wearables are definitely next up for growth in personal computing. It's just early yet.
So what does this mean for marketers? Much more data and intimacy with technology will be a result, and with that comes much more responsibility. Keep in mind that consumers are looking for utility in this space, Epps emphasized, not just advertising. Now is the time to "educate your colleagues, experiment, and partner."
Epps suggests keeping your eye on Apple. While Samsung's strategy appears to be just leaping in and doing it because it can, she predicts Apple will take a smarter, more thoughtful approach that could lead, eventually, to mass adoption.