When modern wearable technology first hit the scene a few years ago, it was primarily focused on connected devices with health-tracking functions, such as counting calories and steps or monitoring sleep patterns. While Fitbit and Garmin demonstrate the potential in wearables with their streamlined tracking capabilities and mobile apps, the devices look more suited for the gym or on the running path than in consumers’ everyday lives.
Today, a new line of devices is emerging, offering features that extend far beyond health and fitness. They appear to be authentic fashion accessories and jewelry, made of precious gemstones and metals instead of clunky plastic or rubber bands. This “smart jewelry” is a new way to combine the benefits of fitness trackers and smartphones with everyday, noninvasive accessories that work with your lifestyle instead of occupying space in it.
For an example of a leading-edge company doing the “smart jewelry” thing right, look no further than Ringly. This NYC-based startup sells digitally-connected rings and bracelets that connect to the wearer’s phone via Bluetooth, then notifies them of alerts and messages from a supported mobile app. The wearer is informed of these notifications by configuring customizable colored LED lighting and various vibration patterns. For example, three vibrations and a yellow light can indicate a social media notification, two vibrations with a pink light can indicate a text message, one vibration and a blue light can indicate an email, and so on. Further customizations include setting up notifications for only a small network of people or connecting to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Uber, Slack, or even health and fitness apps like Fitbit.
The idea behind Ringly is simple: the wearer can carry on with what they are doing and know, at a glance, if she needs to pick up her phone. A concept that was on the forefront of a trend you’ve more than likely seen plenty of by now—the defunct Google Glass, the Apple Watch and the Motorola 360, to name a few. These digital devices are crafted to revolve around consumers lives instead of the other way around. And it’s just the beginning. Consumers are exhausted by hectic schedules, endless emails and 24/7 connections, and are becoming better informed on the ways technology can wreak havoc on their health. These factors create a perfect storm for doing away with invasive, bulky technology in favor of technology that empowers, not impedes, real life interactions.
For companies, brands and agencies, this trend represents three things:
Keep a solid strategy in place and push out quality content. It’s never been more important to craft solid, authentic messages that consumers want to
go out of their way to engage with and share. Wearable devices, including smart jewelry and accessories, are now at the heart of just about every discussion related to the Internet of Things, and the full range of new capabilities ubiquitous connectivity can bring.
The digital space is not confined to one lap-bound screen. Much like TV advertising, companies need to adapt to where the consumer is going. And in this case, they are going outside, interacting more with friends and putting down their phones in favor of real life interactions. How can you meet them at their favorite bar, restaurant or theatre without an invasive iPhone ad and provide real value at the right moment?
With new devices come new ways to interact with your community and surroundings. What can you build that would effectively work on the devices, like Ringly, that consumers are gravitating toward? Could the unique placement of an Apple Watch help or hinder your company? In what ways? Wearable technology is being adopted by brands across the spectrum, from healthcare to education to retail to to consumer goods. However, the smartest, most innovative brands don’t just jump on the tech bandwagon without a plan; they consider gaps in the marketplace and strategically fill those gaps to profitably fulfill their targets’ needs.
It is without a doubt that wearables will evolve exponentially over the next few years, and that they will need to be a more integrated element in the Internet of Things in order to provide the wide range of features people are lusting after.
Essentially, never underestimate the power of the perfect accessory.
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