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[12 comments]

Google puts wearable tech on the fast track

March 11, 2014

As a blogger wearing Google Glass found out in a San Francisco bar last month (tech writer Sarah Slocum claims she was assaulted by Google Glass haters), wearable tech may have some societal hurdles yet to overcome. But there is little doubt that companies both large and small see wearable as the next big step in how we use technology for work and play. Reports from the SXSW festival, much like the Consumer Electronics Show back in January, have focused on wearable tech as companies seek resources — financial and human — to help them develop the next big thing in technology.

Google has probably made the most news with the announcement that the company would release tools to enable software developers to make Android apps for wearable tech devices, and not just Google Glass.

"When we think of wearables, we think of it as a platform. We see a world of sensors," Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, Android and apps at Google, told the SXSW audience (via The Guardian). "Sensors can be small and powerful, and gather a lot of information that can be useful for users. We want to build the right APIs for this world of sensors."

A number of analysts have said that Google's announcement will speed the rate that new products are introduced and ultimately adopted. Trip Chowdhry, an analyst at Global Equities Research, told the San Jose Mercury News, "The world could be very different six to eight months from now."

FINANCIALS:     [NASDAQ:GOOG] [ ]

Discussion Questions:

Will Google's launch of a software development kit dramatically change the rollout and adoption of wearable tech devices? Do you see the commercial or consumer markets becoming the biggest driver of wearable devices?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

Will the commercial or consumer market be the biggest driver of wearable devices in the near term?

Comments:

I think we will see this technology take off big time for professionals such as lawyers to have instant access to information during a trial. Just think of the education industry, medical and technical presentations, all having instant access to information only visible to them. It will be reading without anything in our hands and entertainment anywhere we want it. I wish I had the technology when I was a student and the professor did not know of the technology. Seriously, it would be a great tool to use today.

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Frank Riso, Principal, Frank Riso Associates, LLC

I am not sure that Google's launch of a software development kit will dramatically impact the adoption of wearable technology. A dramatic growth in wearable fitness applications that has happened already suggested that the train may have already left the station.

The only benefit that Google's launch may have could be a reduction in entry costs that may permit companies to go to market faster with their own wearable technology products.

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Mark Price, Managing Partner, M Squared Group, Inc.

The release of the software development kits will definitely speed up the development of apps for wearable devices. The impact on the rollout and adoption will depend on several things including the cost of the devices themselves. The biggest barrier will be the acceptance of the devices by consumers.

As with any technology changes, there will be pluses and minuses. Frank pointed some out in his comments, but a plus may include items such as health monitoring in real time. The downsides include other privacy issues, and issues related to cheating.

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Steve Montgomery, President, b2b Solutions, LLC

First answer - yes, the release of a software developer kit will increase the rollout and adoption, better yet would be software that immediately provides access to existing applications without requiring the application provider do any development.

Second answer - commercial businesses are already users of wearable devices, including many best in class logistics companies that have been using wrist mounted devices from Motorola and others for years. This will continue to grow as wearable devices become more socially acceptable as well.

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Verlin Youd, Principal, VPY LLC

Google's launch of the development kit will help, but do I think dramatically? Nope. There are many folks out there right now pursuing applications and I believe this market will take off based on very specific applications.

The commercial market will lead the way, as they often do and the consumer market will follow, IMHO

And that's my 2 cents.

Lee Kent, Brings Retail Executives Together to Meet.Learn.Profit, RetailConnections

The SDK is helpful to the development community, but the private equity being poured into development in this area is the catalyst. Cost, and durability will be hurdles to overcome in commerce. Style or fashion acceptance will be important in consumer. Both markets have great potential for a wearable, hands-free connected device. This form factor offers great value to all types of workers and work environments, from the warehouse floor to the operating room.

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Larry Negrich, Vice President, Marketing, nGage Labs

I think this simply a matter of time. Once the gear is convenient to use (it's a bit clumsy at this point) and affordable for the masses, I do feel this will become ubiquitous. I'd rather wear my phone than carry it.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive, IBM

History tells us that a major factor that slowed the growth of Apple computers in the early days was closed architecture. Developers couldn't get involved. Heck, one of the main stimulants to the significant growth of PCs over Macintosh was simply the much larger selection of games available for PCs.

Embracing developers is a cool move by Google, a tried-and-true strategy for success.

I still think that Google Glass is weird, though. When concentrating on the image in the Glass, you could walk right off the edge of the flat earth!

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M. Jericho Banks PhD, President, CEO, Forensic Marketing LLC

OK, so here we are in 1960. And some Jetson invents GPS, and since you can have one for $20 in your car, everyone gets one. Now, how much are people going to use it? You think the winning retailer will be the one who harnesses this new-fangled device to help guide shoppers through their rat-maze of a store? And maybe use more of their suppliers money to "pay" shoppers to use it? So much for "way-finding" and "couponing," the dominant "apps" for shopping.

So much for the incredibly superficial understanding of shoppers, driving billions of dollars of investment. But when it never pays, and another bubble will have passed, the cynicism of those who refuse to adjust themselves to the shopping crowd, rather than trying to get the crowd to conform to their ideas, will harden. To the benefit of that tiny slice of retailers who actually do take seriously the natural, habitual, practices of shoppers.

I never cease to be amazed at the wisdom expressed in the title of Neale Martin's book, "Habit: the 95% of behavior that marketers ignore."

Now, how many of you use your in-car GPS to go to places you go to 2.3 times per week? Get real!!!

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Herb Sorensen, Ph.D., Scientific Advisor TNS Global Retail & Shopper, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

Yes, of course the development kits will speed adoption as front-end users and the garage-based startup dreamers have always driven most technology advances, and access to the kits will ensure more of these ideas find their way into trials.

The adoption of wearable tech is already speeding up, based on the platform of wearable fitness devices. We may not be able to accurately predict what form(s) wearable tech will take, but I think we can safely predict it will be significant.

Both commercial and consumer applications are obvious, so whether one will be greater than the other is irrelevant. They will both be huge.

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Mike Osorio, Senior VP Organizational Change Management, DFS Group

Pervasive computing is the next cool thing, but unless customers have compelling usecases to use them, it would just die out as a fad. Opening the platform for apps makes many minds work across various industrial areas to think of potential use cases which could change the process/ make it easy for certain kind of users.

I see gaming to be a early adoptor of this followed by medicine.

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Shilpa Rao, Practice Head - Merchandising, Tata Consultancy Services

The Information Technology (IT) market will be just fine with or without Google and the company's software. IT is about new, fast, easy to use, powerful and so on and so forth. Enhancing ear wear, wrist wear and eye wear is just a matter of time, not to be confused with offerings from any particular present day IT giant. The market should keep an eye open for a new Motorola or Steve Jobs, or how about a Stephanie Jobs? Whatever the case may be, get yourselves ready for the latest and greatest by building a corporate enterprise system that will quickly adapt and welcome the latest trends which just might be an implant of some kind instead of what we are all looking out for. Big surprises are not so uncommon in the high speed land of IT so don't worry about what's coming, just get ready to "deal" with it, or should I say, IT?

'gjarnoldjr'

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