Wearable Media – Connecting in the Age of the Connected Self

By Kim Stokes

The age of the connected self is no longer a “thing,” but has truly arrived. People are now walking media with their bodies as storytellers, connected through their mobile screens, smartwatches, fitness trackers, glasses, and apparel. What does this mean for how we interact with brands, and each other, especially with the mounds of personal data that is now enabled at an exponential level?

The meaning of wearable technology for our future was one of the hottest topics at SXSW 2016. According to UnderArmour’s Head of NA Media & Advertising, Douglas Ziewacz, “trust, value, and content that interprets data are foundational elements” for wearables to be successful. And according to Alanna Cotton, VP of Mobile Computing Marketing at Samsung, “wearables are only cool if they provide utility, convenience, and real-time value. And real-time solutions are important to consumers, but such solutions need to tap into opt-in communities to take it the next level.”

What’s more, the industry is in a constant state of innovation. New forms and terms such as “embeddable” are emerging, where everything will be connected with health at the center*, as explained by Douglas Ziewacz. In his keynote interview with Fast Company Editor-in-Chief Robert Safian, and further covered in an article on AdAge, Kevin Plank, CEO of UnderArmour stressed the importance of data. For example, in the last year alone, the company’s consumers have logged 2 billion workouts into its database, and 8 billion foods. Such data can reveal patterns about what works best, and what can be dangerous. As Kevin Plank stated, “our belief is that data is effectively the new oil.”

The application of wearable technology is endless. For entertainment, Thom Gruhler, CVP Apps and Services at Microsoft pointed out that wearables empower you to take mobile experiences everywhere you go. Not only does Virtual Reality converge with the wearable world but emerging “mixed reality” forms such as holograms are bringing forth new multi-dimensional experiences.

virtual reality at sxsw

And startups are popping up like weeds, from the Antelope Club that produces mobile workout textiles for electro muscle stimulation, to Vufine that developed high definition wearable display that connects to any device.

virtual-reality-process

vufine

So is wearable technology here to stay? From Alanna Cotton’s perspective “this category is ready for mass adoption.” Which means brands outside the category need to be ready to engage with their customers at a whole new level.

Kim oversees digital and social media strategy and execution at MMC. She draws on her background in public relations, advertising, direct marketing and branded content marketing to advise brands on social media strategy, including development and management of owned assets, brand reputation, thought leadership, product innovation, online partnerships and influencer engagement.