With Samsung’s recent release of the Galaxy Gear watch and Google Glass soon to hit the shelves, we are seeing the next wave of user technology. As long as hardware producers can keep prices down, we should expect rapid market acceptance of these devices.
Because of this technology, new opportunities for capturing our customers’ attention are on the horizon. While at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, I spoke with Robert Scoble, startup liaison officer for Rackspace, about the latest trends in wearable technology.
Where are we now with wearable technology?
Robert Scoble: We are in the early stages of the first phase, which is mostly about activity tracking. They are mostly tracking how active you are and how did you get your 10,000 steps in today.
What can we expect next with wearable technology?
Scoble: We are close to a second wave where we are going to have sensors that more accurately watch our activity while watching what is going on in the web stream. That is really where developers are going to get lit up. There is a shirt company that is making sensors that go into your clothing. They will watch how you sit, run or ski and give data on that information. They are even sensors coming that will watch your blood glucose level.
Where do you see companies being able to market with these devices?
Scoble: The [Google] Glass is first wearable device that knows where you are aimed and it is watching your eye, that tells it where you are looking. If I am walking through a shopping mall it can figure out if I am not shopping, or if I stop and look at the Gap or the Apple store. If I walk into the store even better, it can serve me [advertisements] now based off my behavior.
This sounds like there are going to be some major privacy issues.
Scoble: Yep. I think privacy is going to dramatically change over the next few years. People are going to be worried about who gets access to the data. When you go into a doctor visit in a few years are they going to be saying ‘Oh, you didn’t work out this week.’ We are going to change our privacy, but not likely give it up.
With the advent of wearable technology, companies will soon be able to better provide ads to customers based on their real-time activity. If your blood sugar is low, devices can offer coupons for food. If you are looking at a shirt in a department store, devices can suggest additional items based on what you have in your closet.
If all this sounds a little scary, it should. The amount of personal data that could be collected will far surpass current levels. Companies will have the opportunity to move past sending random push notifications via NFC, low energy Bluetooth or geo-location-based maps. We are moving into a world where companies will be able to offer us products and services based on our last two hours of activity. This is both exciting and frightening at the same time.