The wearable market is growing. And that's good news for marketers. Well, it's news, anyway. With shipments reaching over 533M in 2021, boosted by the development of 5G, wearable tech is becoming a reality for many consumers.
On top of this, the growth isn't slowing down. In fact, it's far from reaching its saturation point.
So, get ready to start wearing the MarkZuckerbergHeadset2000 in your day-to-day life. It even comes in red.
But this is not a singular development. As we've just mentioned, 5G has played a huge part in allowing these technologies to grow at the rate they have. AR and VR are pretty much dead fish without high speed internet.
5G is offering us a glimpse into the future. In terms of allowing for new technological capabilities for a consumer, it's a real door-opener.
In the past, technological limitations, including slow networks and unreliable connections, have made smooth digital experiences difficult. Buffering media and advertising content doesn't do any good for communicating swift messages to busy customers.
Wearable tech might not seem immediately applicable to marketers. But in terms of providing immersive experiences for customers in VR, tracking data using smartwatches and clothes, and even providing the ability to develop the interactive voice experience, wearable tech is taking marketing to the next level.
But what's been big in the wearable tech sphere? Who should you be watching? Where should you invest your money? Will the MarkZuckerbergHeadset2000 ever be released in blue? Let's find out.
Smartwatches and Apple
Apple has remained the industry leader for smartwatches, sustaining its dominance of the market, with a 36.1% market share, more than triple that of Samsung in second place (10.1%).
Apple accounted for more than a third of the total shipments last year, and it is further increasing its influence with a market share of 36% in the first quarter of this year. The high brand loyalty of iPhone users is one of the success factors of the Apple Watch.
This popularity appears to be higher among the younger generation, making Apple an irreplaceable market leader. Of course, everything was possible because the high performance of the product and the excellent connection among supported iOS devices. We believe that Apple’s market share is likely to rise further by the end of this year.
Apple maintained a solid lead and increased 14% YoY in Q1 2022. Some shipments carried over to Q1 2022 due to a late launch of Apple Watch 7, which helped continue the strength of the brand.
The growth of smartwatches means that more people are reliant on chatbots and voice search.
Customer Insider reports: "Search strings are becoming longer and more like natural speech as users increasingly use digital assistants to carry out searches. They’re no longer Googling for “cleaning services Philadelphia.” Instead, they’re saying, “Hey Google, what are the best cleaning businesses near me?"
Many wearables make it more difficult to type, which means voice commands are the natural alternative. But this shift results in changes in keywords increases long-tail searches and requires the use of chatbots.
So, when an individual has a question, they'll turn to their virtual assistant, which can have a big impact on keywords and search queries. For example, when people ask their chatbots a question, they'll pose it as a question, not a statement.
As a result, tech companies are building chatbots with advanced AI that could have a big impact on how web searches are conducted. This may improve customer experience, as these chatbots will remember and learn each user's personality and preferences. These chatbots will also adapt to how people receive content, and marketers will need to consider these strategies.
But how will this impact the Interactive Voice Experience?
Introducing the Interactive Voice Experience', suggest that:
How are brands utilising the tech?
Meta has just unveiled four of its virtual reality prototype displays for research purposes.
The company has revealed the names of the four prototypes; Butterscotch, Starburst, Holocake 2, and Mirror Lake. Sounds like the code names of a group of spies from an 80s blockbuster. Holocake 2 is the genius hacker, of course.
“These prototypes, they’re custom and bespoke models that we built in our lab, so they’re not products that are ready to ship,” Zuckerberg said. The headsets, instead, are intended to show how much progress the company has made by revealing many of the unfinished headsets prototypes it has built-in its labs.
Plus, each headset seems to attempt to work out certain issues the industry has faced when it comes to a fully-rounded headset, from display issues to headset size, to the realism of the graphics. Which is good news for marketers looking to provide a decent customer experience in the metaverse.
So, let's have a look at the four headsets.
- Butterscotch. This headset is designed to test higher-resolution displays. Butterscotch has a new lens Meta has developed that limits the headset's field of view, making it possible to present fine text and increase displayed realism. But the headset is still incredibly bulky, with exposed circuit boards.
- Half Dome 3. Meta has been working on this prototype since around 2017. It has been used to test a type of display that can shift how far away the focus point of the headset's optics is. With this tech, the resolution and image quality could improve enough for users to create giant computer monitors within a headset.
- Starburst. This research prototype focuses on high-dynamic-range displays which are brighter and show a wider range of colours. The company said that HDR is the single tech that's most linked to additional realism and depth.
- Holocake 2. This is the thinnest and lightest headset the company has made. It's also capable of running any VR software - as long as it's hooked up to a PC. It also required specialised lasers that are too expensive for consumer use and requires additional safety precautions.
- Mirror Lake. This ski-goggle style headset is designed to combine all the different Meta headset technologies into one, single, next-generation display.
“The Mirror Lake concept is promising, but right now it’s only a concept with no fully functional headset yet built to conclusively prove out the architecture,” Meta Reality Labs chief scientist Michael Abrash said.
“But if it does pan out, it will be a game-changer for the VR visual experience.”
But what are the potential use cases with VR for marketers?
- Collaborative Shopping experiences
- Hiring and Training
Already job-seekers can attend a virtual job fair, using advanced VR technology. Plus virtual onboarding has become pretty common over the pandemic period. The extended context that the AR cloud provides would be infinitely useful in these scenarios.
- Facial Tracking
Advanced VR can be used to track the human eye and facial expressions. So, it can be used to see how people react to a product or experience, offline and on. Creepy, but useful.
The gaming industry has been the most receptive to AR and VR technologies, and as a result, has seen the most advancements. The aforementioned Pokémon Go app alone uses GPS, compass, and beacons. But gamification can also be extremely popular in marketing - adding interactivity and engagement can up customer experience immensely.
As VR continues to be utilised in a wider way, and the technology becomes more -ahem- wearable, it will affect digital marketing strategy greatly. In fact, we're already seeing the rise of AI-powered virtual influencers, which are digital avatars or 3D models which can be found on various social media platforms.
Many brands, such as Prada and Alibaba, have been known to utilise these top virtual influencers to enhance their campaigns and drive more engagement. A Fullscreen Survey found that over half of 13-34-year-olds would purchase a brand advertised by a CGI influencer they were following, most commonly done on Instagram, a highly visual platform. But inside the gaming platforms popular within the metaverse, we're seeing successful events, gigs, and meet-and-greets, which all offer accessibility and excitement for users.
Smart Clothing and Levi's
Levi has recently jumped into the smart clothing game, developing a smart jacket powered by Google's latest Jacquard tech. The new commuter jacket contains a battery-powered tag half the size of the original tag in the last iteration of the piece.
The hidden tag works in tandem with the interactive yarn integrated into the sleeves, in order to create touch and gesture-sensitive areas. This allows wearers to control their smartphones and connect to a variety of services. It also connects to a variety of services as well as accessing features like music control or Google maps. Additional features now include the ability to check diaries or the weather.
Like previous editions of the jacket, users can use similar gestures to dismiss phone calls by swiping over the screen, double-tapping to get directions, swiping up to see nearby places, and swiping down to change music. It'll also be able to read messages aloud, either from a set of paired headphones, or the jacket's speaker.
But Levi's isn't the only clothier accessing the space. we're seeing more specialised applications of the tech, such as the Nadi X yoga pants that track and give feedback on the wearer's posture. We've also seen the Neviano connected swimsuits that detect the strength of ultraviolet light the wearer is exposed to, and send warnings if levels are too high.
The advantage of clothing over smaller accessories such as watches is that they cover a larger area of the body, and can potentially take more in-depth readings. Due to this, Samsung has spoken about plans to create a smart shirt that can detect early warning signs of lung disease and other illnesses. With the increased focus on health-related wearables, it is likely we will see similar functionalities becoming popular in the next year.
But marketers need to be aware of invasive data collection that comes with such in-depth readings, and the need to retain consumer trust in this landscape.