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The Future of Wearable Technology

The Future of Wearable Technology
Ally Reis

Wearable technology is on the rise as companies like Sony, Samsung, and Motorola join the ranks of Google and potentially Apple in the development of smartwatches. At present, some 15 percent of consumers are using this wearable technology, a term that includes everything from Google Glass to fitness bands to smartwatches.

If any company were to come to the forefront in designing a smartwatch, it would inevitably be Google. The company recently announced that it would indeed be delving further into wearable technology with a carefully designed and simple smartwatch model known as Android Wear.

Google’s approach to smartwatch development is backed by its experience with wearable technology (i.e. Google Glass), algorithms strengthened over the years and access to data. Not only is the company already more than qualified to produce the ideal smartwatch, but it’s looking to include third-party developers and potentially average users in the process of development, as well. This experience and willingness to include ideas outside its own is what could make Google’s Android Wear one of the more successful endeavors into wearable technology.

This particular smartwatch will be focused on context, paying attention to the wearer’s location, the time and the wearer’s physical movements to emphasize specific notifications over others. In this way, the device can do things like notify you of a jellyfish warning when you head to the beach to surf or remind you about that picnic with your friend later today. It will also tell you what beaches don’t have jellyfish or what you need to bring with you to the picnic.

Though the world of wearable technology is incredibly exciting, these smartwatches will need to be executed carefully in order to avoid becoming a nuisance or an redundant smartphone equivalent. One thing that Google has handled quite well in setting apart smartwatches from smartphones is in its management of notifications. Focusing on getting the notifications to be well timed and only shown as necessary, Google manages to avoid over-stimulating the user with text, noise or movement. Additionally, its smartwatch will take spoken commands that allow the user to pick things like which taxi company they want to call when they say, “Ok, Google, I need a cab.”

In the realm of potential annoying smartwatch notifications lies the impending ad incorporation. With the initial release of smartwatches, companies will likely hold back from allowing advertisers to push ads to users. However, once demand grows for the new technology, ads will likely be able to take on a much bigger role in the smartwatch experience.

While smartwatch ads may not differ too much from smartphone ads, what will set them apart in the end will be the ability to hypertarget ads on the watch. Advanced hypertargeting would, in an ideal situation, prompt your smartwatch to note that you are in a new city and have it send you an ad for a popular restaurant that your Facebook friend liked recently. For this type of helpful ad to work, it would require layers of information gleaned from essentially all parts of the user’s life, including those outside the use of the smartwatch.

However, no matter how well targeted a push ad is, it’s often still interruptive and not well received by the user. The answer to this on smartwatches may then be the use of branded apps. For example, unlike your smartphone, your smartwatch has the ability to monitor your pulse. This could then be used in an insurance company sponsored app that would give you suggestions on how to lower your heart rate with diet and exercise. Alternately, this could be used by department stores monitoring your pulse as you walk through the store, prompting you with advertisements when they note an elevated pulse as you look at an item you like.

The real hurdle with advertising on smartwatches will be convincing users to agree to marketing on their wrists. Without this agreement, users will likely find the technology invasive and consequentially avoid purchasing it. In spite of this, Google does seem to be on the right track toward a simple model designed for the user experience that could likely find a way to seamlessly incorporate advertisements.

No matter how well designed the technology becomes, it will still take some time to find the right way to incorporate ads.  Also, talking to your watch in public will likely always seem a little weird. However, the concept of a smartwatch will definitely continue to be a popular idea in our increasingly technological world.

[Sources: Wired, Mashable ]

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