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What is the Next Big Thing in Wearables?

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Author: Ashley Waters, Vice President, Media at PAN Communications, headshot
Ashley WatersVice President, Media Relations

Recently, PAN worked with the ad:tech team at their annual conference in San Francisco. In between working with attendees, running social media, and making sure all went smoothly, we were able to attend a few of the sessions, including one that addressed the future of wearable technology.

The session on wearables was lead by industry experts Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, Kirk Drummond, Co-Founder and CEO of Drumroll, and Lauren deLisa Coleman, Founder of Lnk Agency. All agreed on the potential places wearables are heading to – and the one place it’s not.

Image by Keoni Cabral used under CC license.

By 2019, the wearables market will be a $53 billion industry, according to Juniper Research – so it’s safe to say it’s not going away any time soon. The current state of wearables is that the consumers are very curious, but for the marketers it’s all about scale. More products are being churned out every day, but the actual adoption rate is very slow in comparison.

Wearables’ main appeal is giving their owners something they crave: personalized data collected in real time. The main challenge is that not only does the visual appeal of the device matter, but also – and more importantly – how valuable and accurate the data collection is.

Experts agree that millennials will determine what will be the next trend in wearables. But since they are a diverse and large group – there are several subsets within the category of millennials – it will be difficult to predict which wearable will speak to to which groups the most. Here are a few that the experts leading this session discussed as the next big thing:

Biometric Wearables

Removable tattoos, stickers (like this Indiegogo campaign for a heart rate monitor that adheres to skin), and other unusual innovations will drive interest immediately. Those who want to be an influencer within a group of friends will go this route. It’s not quite as extreme as implementing wearable devices inside your body, but it’s moving towards that shift.

Cracking the notification code

We live in a notification economy – where all of our gadgets are vying for attention. If you wear a smart watch, for example, you get the vibration on your wrist before you receive any other type of notification. App developers will find that their popularity will be very much dependent on knowing what the user wants notifications for, and – more importantly – what they don’t need to know as it happens.

Finding the next specialty area

The world of wearables is chaotic outside of fitness. Everyone is trying to figure out what the next dominant specialty area will be. Experts predict travel as a possible areas since there are so many logistical hurdles that wearables may be able to simplify – transportation from airport to cab or public transit to hotel, splitting fares, getting directions, finding your room assignment. Wearables can add tangible improvements to people’s lives by simplifying travel.

Ultra-Personalized Content

Content that gets customized to you dynamically. For example headphones that will change the music you are listening to when you work out based on how fast you are running, or how fast your heart is beating. Or Bluetooth enabled ski goggles that change where you are going based on the type of workout you want.

Now that we know what to look out for, we can also predict what can safely be ignored. The experts at the ad:tech digital conference discussed what trends are going to fizzle and don’t have enough value – including the Apple Watch. Lauren deLisa Coleman said, when it comes to millennials, “the items need to be so sexy and alluring that you HAVE to have it.” At this point there is nothing you can add to a smart watch that would make someone buy it who didn’t already purchase one. The curiosity is there, but that “have to have” factor is missing.

An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.