The wonder of wearables

by Jane Duru, Editor

How many steps have you taken today? Did you get the right number of hours of REM required for a good night’s sleep last night? How many calories have you consumed this week?

Unless you’re one of the relatively small numbers of smart watch early adopters or health app addicts, it’s unlikely that you know. But at last week’s BIMA breakfast on wearable technology, held at the Ivy with moreish French pastries and tea on tap, the Wardour team got a glimpse of the spate of new devices that are on their way, and they go far beyond mere ‘life-logging’ devices. As Paul Landau of Fitbug rightly pointed out, once you’ve got over the personal horror of your own vital statistics, these devices offer little long-term incentive to improve to all but the most motivated.

But in the not so distant future, wearable tech will mean something rather different. The ‘Dorothy’ attached to your shoes will call a cab whenever you click your heels together, while your Ringly ringwill buzz when you receive an important email. Foxtel sports channel customers will be able to don vibrating shirts that put them at the heart of the action, while Durex’s Fundawear will enable long-distance couples to experience remotely controlled, ahem, stimulation.

Could ‘wearable content’ be another strand appearing on the horizon? Hearing about Pinterest’s integration with Apple’s new smart watch – the app will send pop-up notifications whenever you’re near one of your pinned places – a colleague pointed out this could be a precursor to the travel guide of the future.

Cultural norms have yet to catch up with technology, though. In the same week as our breakfast pow-wow, Google announced the withdrawal of Glass from sale. The combination of the £1,000 price tag, privacy concerns and the fact that it was rather unattractive seem to have outweighed the potential technological benefits to consumers. But Google has its proof of concept – and doubtless Glass 2.0 will appear at some point with solutions to these problems.

The legislative, cultural and business implications of wearable tech are relevant to many of our clients. Digital security company Gemalto is busy addressing the privacy and data security issues that wearables raise, the RSA will take a keen interest in how we harness these new technologies for social benefit, and our financial services clients are doubtless keeping tabs on innovators in the tech space.

As editors, keeping abreast of what should be on our clients’ radar through industry events like these is great for generating interesting and surprising ideas – the kind that go on to produce compelling content. And when there’s a pastry or three involved, well, you don’t have to ask us twice!

Published Jan 30, 2015

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