This past March I attended South by Southwest in Austin Texas thanks to Professor Michael Myers. He pioneered a course titled Marketing, Technology, and Innovation and it was the single best educational experience of my life. Never have I felt such excitement and genuine interest in a class. The following article is an overview of a panel at SXSW titled: Internet of You: Wearables and Under-Skin Marketing. All three of these panels took place during the first day of SXSW Interactive.
This panel dropped my jaw. It consisted of Ms. Alanna Cotton (CP of Mobile Computing Marketing at Samsung), Mr. Thom Gruhler (CVP Apps & Services at Microsoft), Mr. Douglas Ziewacz (head of NA media and Advertising at Underarmour Connected Fitness). Mr. Kirk Drummond (Co-Founder and CEO of Drumroll), mediated the panel. Panelists discussed their company’s innovations in wearable tech and their profound implications.
At first I was disheartened as it appeared panelists were promoting their upcoming, and existing products. My concerns were quickly disproven, and my jaw on the floor. Ms. Cotton presented the Samsung Gear S2, Mr. Gruhler presented HoloLens, and Mr. Ziewacz presented a dashboard which interconnected various wearable tech devices. The HoloLens was astounding. Splitting the difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality with their innovative Mixed Reality. This allows users to interact with both the real world and the projections. After the awe dissipated and the functionalities of the devices was discussed, the conversation shifted to the implications of the wearable tech.
The most interesting and unexplored of which, was the potential for the data collected through these devices. Another topic of discussion was the paradigm shift of focus from devices, to automated intelligence and the mobility of the experiences enabled by the wearable tech. This panel was particularly interesting in that it not only presented cutting edge technology, but did so in a manner representative of different segments which in and of themselves were representative of the segments of wearable tech.
Of this session the most open ended, enticing, and frightening topic was the data now available for collection through these devices. The data obtained through these devices is incredibly personal. This data is exciting in the value it offers to both the user (directly and indirectly), and the value it can create through this unexplored frontier of market research.
The data present a starling concern related to consumer privacy. Privacy concerns exist stemming from both corporations and criminals. Corporations may have the potential to know consumers habits, lifestyles and preferences so deeply that it interferes with the human experience and free will. Criminals have the potential to wreak havoc in a multitude of ways if they are able to access the data collected through these devices. The undefined rules related to this type of data collection present a concern, as the technology advances legislature and controls will advance with it, and this data will forever change the relationship between consumers and their products.