What Is Not Turning Wearable?

joanna_clarke    July 17, 2017

Social media is spider-webbing into so many nooks and crannies of our everyday lives, it is a challenge to truly answer the question of “where is social media going in the future?” in a simplistic form. On one hand, the easy answer is, social media is going everywhere. For example, think of a recent time when you came across a product or app that you never thought of yourself and you say “ah…yes, that is a really good idea”…how many times has that included an accompanying app or tracking application? Social media is everywhere!

There is nothing truer to that just described, to the wearables sector. From keeping a light eye on wearables through personal interest, I thought where Fit Bit and similar product is going was interesting; I also found Bellabeat, a women’s focused wearable of smart jewellery. I knew there was innovation and development, and I also knew there are apps that are built around integration with these devices. I thought looking at the future of social media through wearables would be interesting, but I had no idea how huge this space was. It was predicted (in 2016) that by 2020 that the wearables market will be worth $34 billion (Lamkin, 2016). This is up from a forecast in 2015 for the wearables market to be worth $25 billion in 2019 (CCS Insight, 2015).

Connecting back to discussions around Future Development of Social Media from my Social Media for Business Performance Certificate course (University of Waterloo, 2017), there are few significant topic areas that caught my eye:

  • Full integration of social media into an organization
  • The value of social media fully integrated into an organization in the areas of: employee involvement, customer engagement, product development and design, supply chain and marketing.
  • Understanding how communication flows, and how social media may influence that, plus the collection and use of big data.

Checking into the Social Media for Business Performance Blog, in the Future of Social Media  section, there was a post written in 2015 about wearable technology. It is quite interesting to see the changes that have come in the two years that spans that article to this one. One of the trends that I picked up on in reading this 2015 article and comparing it to research I have been doing, is how further integrated and holistic wearables are. In other words, proof social media is literally walking into the future with us.

I had asked my friend, Alexandra, who is a national team athlete on the Romanian Speed Skating team, what wearable technology does for her:

“Wearable tech has actually advanced my performance by at least 30% in my personal opinion. Being able to monitor and track my progress and see my current training zones has given me the opportunity to train smarter, more efficiently and perform beyond my expectations.” – Alexandra Ianculescu, Speed Skater, Team Romania

Comparing what Alexandra is quoted saying to what Wareable.com discusses in their 50 Wearable Tech Gamechangers for 2017, there is a theme in wearables moving to help people not just train, but also live smarter and more efficiently. The data from wearables that companies can obtain is highly valuable – and the more people use a company’s app and products, the more data they can get. This data can be analyzed and allow for modifications across multiple areas of a product and company – from production/development of products to delivery of services to supplementary programs and marketing; this can help to both show strengths, weakness and areas of opportunity. A sample of life areas Wareable discusses are shoes, home security, head phones, fitness trackers, smart watches, athlete recovery, VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), stress reduction and personal safety.

A noticeable portion of the wearables sector are devices relating to health. Wired Magazine discusses how with the amount of data we have from fitness tracking type devices, trends and pitfalls we can identify. “Smartphones give us this unprecedented opportunity to better understand what people are doing all day and how that relates to their health and wellbeing.” (Molteni, 2017)

Lessons for Others

Stanford University has recently completed a study that looked at smartphone and wearable data, and turning that data into something meaningful. Of the multitude of interesting findings, one that caught my attention was in direct relation to social media – there is “…a huge opportunity to use that kind of continuous data to provide more targeted, dynamic interventions to people who are headed down a wellness dead end. “We can catch people on their way toward obesity, and provide them feedback through smartphone apps, so they can actually do something about it in the moment.”” (Molteni, 2017). However, one major limitation that has been recognized is that step-tracking is not actually that accurate (Molteni, 2017). (I do really recommend this 5 minute read that gives the highlights of this study done by Stanford University).

Putting that limitation aside for a moment, Medium published an article in November 2016 discussing the top 10 trends in wearables. Interestingly enough, many of their trends incorporate an expansion of the uses and life areas that wearables are being used in. These trends are holistic in principal, as they weave their way though the areas of fashion, heightened sensory capture and sensitivity, AR, sports and health (Lawler, 2016). If we consider these areas, add in the Stanford study and take a jog back up to the top of this article where I mentioned integration of social media thought organizations and products (holistically, cradle to grave), and data gathering and analysis, we can see how that is working. These products in the wearable technology arena could not exist without social media – referring to an earlier blog I posted and discussed Professor Peter Carr’s (University of Waterloo) definition of social media…:

“There isn’t a generally accepted definition and opinions probably include narrow, which would be restricted to popular public tools (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and broader, including any form of online communications (email, Yammer, SharePoint etc.). I used the broader approach, any online communication between two or more people could be included.”

…wearable technology is an example of the definition of social media. We see how products and/or apps are being developed in prediction and/or response to realized weaknesses, opportunities and building on strengths or response to data collected an analyzed.

I had a wise Professor Ed Leach in university, who taught a course on entrepreneurship, and he said something along the lines of (I am paraphrasing from memory) “you need to understand what the problem is that you are trying to solve before you can build a company or product to answer that” … that was never truer then it is for wearable technology.

Organization: Wareable
Industry: Wearable Technology
Name of Organization Contact: -

Authored by: Joanna Clarke

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


References

Carr, P. (2017, June 3). Definition of “social media”. Message posted to https://learn.uwaterloo.ca/d2l/le/306785/discussions/topics/253472/View

CCS Insight. (2015). Wearables Market to Be Worth $25 Billion by 2019. CCS Insight. Retrieved on July 16, 2017 from http://www.ccsinsight.com/press/company-news/2332-wearables-market-to-be-worth-25-billion-by-2019-reveals-ccs-insight

Geer, D. (2017, July 5). Will big data change how you use social media? The Next Web. Retrieved on July 5, 2017 from https://thenextweb.com/contributors/2017/07/06/will-big-data-change-use-social-media/#.tnw_wCqYiFlt

Lamkin, P. (2016, February 17). Wearable Tech Market To Be Worth $34 Billion By 2020. Forbes. Retrieved on July 16, 2017 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/paullamkin/2016/02/17/wearable-tech-market-to-be-worth-34-billion-by-2020/#7f2e1cd13cb5

Lawler, J. (2016, November 16). Wearables – Hype or Hope? Top 10 Trends in Wearables. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@justin_d_lawler/top-10-trends-in-wearables-where-is-wearable-technology-going-2e8e03053af4 on July 17, 2017

Leach, Ed. (2007). Discussing of entrepreneurship. Dalhousie University lecture.

Molteni, M. (2017, July 11). The Problem With Fitness Studies Based on Activity Apps. Wired Magazine. Retrieved on July 14, 2017 from https://www.wired.com/story/the-problem-with-fitness-studies-based-on-activity-apps/

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