The Apple Watch is only weeks away from release and this week brought with it the device’s first wave of reviews and a heightened level of anticipation. While the release of Apple’s wearable is an exciting prospect for iPhone owners, it is also an event that will be carefully scrutinized by the company’s competitors. For some time, the Apple Watch has been considered the trailblazer of smartwatches, with other companies holding back on their own wearables to see how Cupertino’s time piece fares in the consumer markets.
If the Apple Watch ends up being a hit, and wearable tech finally catches on, there is plenty to look forward to. No longer just for active living applications, wearable tech can potentially have a massive impact on day to day life.
Here are some areas of application that stand to change dramatically if wearable tech catches on like the smartphone did.
Mobile commerce is booming thanks to the convergence of biometrics, mobility and NFC technology. With mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Alipay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, shopping is transforming. But if wearable tech catches on in the mainstream, the evolution of payment won’t stop at smartphones, it will move to our connected accessories.
Apple Pay already works through the Apple Watch, though it opts for PIN authentication of the iPhone’s Touch ID biometrics, but perhaps the most lauded solution in wearable commerce is the Nymi wristband.
Nymi, made by a Toronto company of the same name, offers persistent ECG authentication to its wearers, has been called the future of cardholder present transactions by the Royal Bank of Canada. After having the payment function activated, a wearer only needs to wave her wrist over an NFC payment terminal to make a payment.
One of the biggest obstacles in bringing mCommerce to the market has been making new solutions easier than using a credit card. Wearable payment solutions like the Nymi and the Apple Watch stand to extend that into the next generation of consumer financial tech.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT, M2M) stands to change identity on a large scale and wearable tech can help us interface with the M2M network.
The Apple Watch keynote in March stands as the current best example of how this works in practice. From the dark stage in Cupertino, California, Kevin Lynch walked the audience through a day in the life of connected wearable tech, highlighting three major examples of how IoT interfacing makes sense to consumers. Using a hotel app, he turned his Apple Watch into a room key, used it to remotely monitor his home though a connected security camera and open his garage door for his daughter.
Being able to interface with the Internet of Things is a big step toward helping consumers understand why connected machines make their lives easier. Combining that easy-interface method with a multi-use personal gadget makes connecting to the Internet of Things all the more attractive.
The proliferation of mobile connected tech has made location an important part of identity. With so many digital avatars that can be accessed remotely, where you are is starting to become an important part of describing who you are. Combined with geo-fencing technology, the connection between location and identity stands to be a major marketing tool.
Wearables factor into mobile marketing in a tangential but important way. Current generation smartphones operating on Android Wear require two things: a bluetooth connection to a smartphone and advanced location tracking turned on. Essentially, what this means for marketers, is that consumers wearing smartwatches are less likely to turn off location services on their smartphones and have a screen (hopefully with their app installed) conveniently attached right to their wrists.
Combine the marketing potential with IoT and wearable payment tech and users of smartwatches can collect and redeem location-based value added services without taking out their wallet or phone. The potential for wearable tech to improve the lives of consumers is massive, and if the smartwatch catches on, things are about to get a lot more convenient for those who are connected.
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