Opinion

Smartlife CEO Andy Baker on what brands should know about wearable tech

Andy BakerAndy Baker is CEO of wearable tech firm Smartlife.

In this interview with Mumbrella, Baker talks about how brands can use wearable technology, how people will start to trade their personal data in the future, and why the biggest obstacle for the sector is its name.

Which brands are doing the most interesting stuff in wearable tech right now, in your view?

Over the last few years, people have been confusing wearable tech with wrist-worn watches or pedometers. These technologies may increase the market and awareness of the industry, but they do not read signals generated by the human body, and so do not move the overall approach of wearable tech from the internet of things (machines or devices) to the internet of humans.

That said, key brands have begun to explore this space and have launched early stage products, such as UnderArmour with the E39 product. Other brands have been deployed heavily in elite sports such as rugby and football training (not live matches) such as Polar and Garmin.

What is the most exciting piece of technology on the wearable tech scene right now, and how could it be useful for brands?

The move from passive garments to interactive garments will change the entire retail experience. Once a garment leaves a retail environment it will still able to communicate back to store usage and usage patterns, helping the retailer understand how it can assist in the future and tailor a package to suit each customer.

What do you see as the best uses of wearable tech for brands?

Over the coming years, wearable tech will allow brands to ensure marketing messages are received at the right time based on a person’s mood, as they will be able to see heart and breathing rates. If both are elevated, I don’t think brands should not send messages. If steady and level, then people will be more supportive of what a brand is telling them.

How big an issue for brands and tech providers is privacy, and who will own the data as wearable tech reaches a mass audience?

If people were aware of all data issues before they arrived, nobody would have signed up to use a mobile phone. The data issue needs to be reviewed on a regular basis, only then can trust be grown with the public, and brands can learn to use the data responsibly. That will enable everybody to look at their own data, how it is used and how they can take advantage of it. Do I get cheaper insurance by sharing my data? Do I get cheaper insurance from sharing my driving data? Do I get cheaper clothes by sharing my usage? This will become the normal approach over the coming years.

What do you see as the biggest obstacle to the growth and adoption of wearable tech?

The biggest issue blocking wearable tech is the term itself. Wearable tech is not glasses. We have worn them for over 200 years. It’s not a watch. They’ve been around for centuries. It’s about understanding the technology that is helpful in reducing time and effort in your daily life, and will help you live longer by identifying possible health issues before it is too late.

How do you see wearable tech developing over the next few years in terms of its uses for brands?

The space for brands to explore will make “Minority Report” come a step closer; people walking into stores and getting better service with product offers tailored to your requirements.

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