One in every 13 people on Earth is on Facebook. The Facebook population is three times that of the United States, and skews 56% female. As a consequence, Facebook has a social graph of interconnected people and organizations. Each of us has a “statistical self” living in different databases, some of which we are aware, such as Facebook, and others we are not. Either way, our data leaves a translucent slime trail like a snail.
The current statistics we are focused on in wearable technology are mainly biometrics and figuring out ways for people to understand things like your heart rate and your movement. But eventually it will also include understanding the environment around you and how your location can impact your experiences with people and objects. This subject starts to get very interesting when our physical selves are creating data points that can be measured and indexed across the population.
The sports industry was the first category to recognize that integrating technology for an on-body experience is a way to add more value and change consumer behavior. Take Nike for instance, which was one of the first in 2005 with the Nike+ product. Now they have the FuelBand, which is based on an accelerometer to measure movement, a universal metric of activity. Nike is about setting goals and monitoring activity and they understand that comparing your performance to others in the database is a motivation for people to participate. As a leader in this space, Nike will be another brand to watch to see how they incorporate new possibilities around the new metrics as wearable technology advances.
The next boost in wearable technology may come by creating market scale. There continues to be much speculation about Apple’s trademark filing for iWatch, which could either mean they are launching into wearable technology or they imagine we will all squint our eyes and watch TV on an even smaller screen strapped to our wrists. If iWatch turns out to be Apple’s foray into wearable technology, then we can easily imagine how fast mass market adoption will be pushed.
At the same time a new site is being beta tested called Bodybook (http://www.bodybook.com/players). Bodybook is a social fitness site with challenges, rewards and progress tracking based on the consumer insight that weight loss (or gain) is contagious based on your circle of friends. But there is big potential in a bodybook of a different kind that could create a market where individuals sell their own physical data that has been collected via wearable technology. Individual behavior to participate, or opt-in, to a variety of Big Data marketplaces would be changed through a financial incentive for selling data to create their own statistical profile. The clinical trials marketplace would be one such example of the power that comes from linking people to create organized indexes.
One of the commercial questions marketers should be pondering is, “How will the more discreet experience of wearing technology and generating personal content create new markets and new opportunities?”
An even tougher question is, “What happens when consumers start to get wise and they have the ability to sell their personal data on a social media site like a reimagined Bodybook?” You shouldn’t doubt this change is coming.
Today, consumers are walking around with the ubiquitous cell phone and they have become used to the idea of always being connected, always having quick access to data and getting feedback when and where they want it. They understand ecosystems and frameworks in technology to some degree and the motivations to “place” their statistical self into different marketplaces for their personal benefit will create different transactions and marketplaces. Some may be motivated by the benefit of participation to see themselves in a larger context, and some by the financial incentive received for offering their physical data.
A few areas expected to transform through the incoming wave of wearable technology and the uniquely physical data related to it include:
- Unobtrusive patient monitoring
- Diabetes care
- Vital signs monitoring
- Clinical trials monitoring
- Chronic disease management
- Emergency services
- Personal security
- Remote monitoring of elderly or children
- Weight-energy monitoring
- Fitness monitoring
- Sports performance
From a purely consumer perspective, people may be interested in seeing remarkable portraits of their statistical self in comparison to others. “How do all of those captured moments translate into the shape of my data and how can I take advantage of it?” may be the type of consumer question popping up in the near future. From a marketer’s perspective this will open up compelling new opportunities and better consumer targeting for the early market movers. The wearables market is already on the move as major players from industries like automotive, entertainment, communications, security and healthcare are about to enter the arena. It will be an exciting time to watch the market segments unfold and commercialize.