If you pay attention to the tech world, you’ve likely noticed a proliferation of geeks donning a new device called Google Glass. This Glass is the latest in the category of what’s known as wearable computers, and it allows the owner to take photos, videos, request directions and surf the Web. The unique thing about the Glass is that they are completely hands free.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking with one of the original Glass owners, tech blogger, Robert Scoble. Scoble is in the process of writing a book titled, Age of Context, with the thesis that not only is technology becoming pervasive but it is also becoming intuitive. This latter concept takes Scoble and his co-author, Shel Israel, down the path of the role that Bluetooth enabled-toothbrushes, self-driving cars and wearable computers like Google Glass will have on our lives.
During our conversation, Robert and I both agreed that there was some “there” there with the Glass. However, not unlike the early days of cell phones, the technology has a long way to go.
For starters, the Glass makes its wearer look a little cyborg-esque. It also chews through battery power pretty quickly – although the same could be said about most smart phones. The Glass is also voice activated which works well sometimes, but other times, not so much. This is a problem with Android’s voice recognition technology, in general, but will improve over time.
Moving beyond the technology, the bigger question is: how might this new capability affect brands’ and marketers’ interaction with customers and prospects?
Augmented reality: This is a no-brainer. Video games will be the first to truly take care of this capability, giving gamers the ability to turn any room or space into a new world. Killing aliens or looking downfield for an open receiver will also become infinitely easier.
A new way of shopping: Imagine being able to shop the likes of Nordstrom, Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana without ever needing to leave the comfort of your own house. Walk down the virtual aisles, smell the scents of leather and cologne (yes, someday, they will perfect the art of scent as a fourth dimension) and talk to your favorite sales person.
Once you’ve picked out those new shoes, pants or sweaters, you can virtually try on your clothes, get the opinion of your friends or family and then purchase all or none of these items with a simple verbal command. And yes, it might be a while before 3D printing technology allows us to print wearable jeans, but with the art of faster and more efficient distribution, in many cases, your purchases from that morning could likely show up on your doorstep that afternoon… just in time for you to hit the town in your new outfit.
Immersive advertising: In reality, this will likely be the second place many marketers will want to leverage technology like Google Glass. Unfortunately, most will get this wrong and will think that we (the loyal subjects) will want to be shoved into the midst of Brand X’s 30 second spot. In reality, the way they can win is by letting us see their products in action, offering personalized product reviews from our favorite movie actor/character. Or, better yet, offering us virtual trips to exotic places with their products baked into the experience.
For more niche applications, think about the possibilities of:
- Sitting down for a 1:1 interview with anyone — or any group of people — in the world. It will feel like they are right across the table from you. Goodbye fancy Web conferencing technology.
- Virtually sky dive or scuba dive without the risk of faulty parachutes or territorial tiger sharks.
- Create your own clothing line by dragging and dropping colors, patterns and materials onto yourself or a variety of male and female super models.
- Become the best sales person in the world by walking into a room and using your face recognition to not only remind you of every person’s name that you meet, but also where they live, what their favorite shows are and where they went to college.
I chose that last niche use because one of the downsides of wearable technologies will be that the creep/big brother factor will go up 100-fold over time. While there won’t be much legislators can actually do to regulate this, there will likely be societal and ethical laws that we will need to put in place to keep things safe and respectable.
So, what’s your wearable computing strategy? I look forward to discussing your ideas in the comments.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.