Tag Archives: Wearables

SXSW 2015 – What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020

Written by: Tom Edwards
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Now through September 5th, 2014 is the time to vote on panels & presentations for SXSW Interactive 2015. I have submitted a presentation for consideration and would greatly appreciate your support.

Screenshot 2014-08-11 11.06.41

My proposed topic is What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020. This is an in-depth extension of my previously published iMedia article of the same name. Here is a brief outline of the proposed presentation. I will also roll out the new consumer engagement platform called #DatabaseOfYou during this presentation.

Screenshot 2014-08-07 10.30.58

Presentation Description

Where should marketers and brands place bets over the next five years? What is hype over substance? Taking all of this into consideration, I interviewed my strategy teams in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas to map the state of digital marketing in the year 2020. We had fun with discussions of drones, crypto currency, the internet of people, and more. While the team agreed fundamentally about certain platforms making an impact, there were pros and cons to impact and feasibility. The following panel is the consolidated and highly visual vision of the future of advertisting in the year 2020. This presentation will take a look back at transformational media moments that give clues to the future state of advertising. We will then look at the role of integrated mobile, converged media, connected life and the digital ecosystem of the future. Presentation Cameos by Drones, Terminators, the Jetson’s, Marty McFly, Grumpy Cat and more!!!

Questions to be Answered


The presentation will focus on the three predicted core pillars of advertising in 2020 (Content, Data, Channels). The pillars will fuel the discussion and points of connection between where technology is going and how to stay relevant with a information overloaded consumer.

1) How can media of the past predict the future state of advertising?

2) What role will mobile + wearables play in 2020?

3) How can media fragmentation and personalization unlock new opportunities for converged media?

4) What role will the internet of things and connected life play in predictive advertising?

5) Who will be left standing as major players digital ecosystem players in the year 2020?

Here is a preview of some of the initial visuals tied to the presentation.


I would greatly appreciate your support with a vote. You can vote here. In order to vote you must create an account at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com

Then you can simply search for Tom Edwards and give it a thumbs up to submit your vote.

SXSW - Tom

Thank you in advance for your support! It is much appreciated.

Follow Tom Edwards @Blackfin360

Wearables & The Quantified Self Movement

Written by: Tom Edwards
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

I was recently asked by ADWEEK about opportunities for brands and fitness wearables. The discussion focused on utility and the future of the quantified self movement and whether hardware or software is the way to go. The final portion of the conversation was focused on fashion vs. function and the importance of aesthetics for mass adoption. Below is my full commentary.

Brands and Utility

For the right brand there is a significant opportunity to capitalize on the quantified self movement and create new streams of revenue. Market analysts project significant upside for wearable tech over the next few years.


SOURCE Business Insider

The value for brands comes in the form of ongoing engagement and value to the consumer. By providing active utility the brand is taking something that used to provide a passive function and unlocks behavioral patterns of the consumer, activity and in some cases emotional data and any positive results can be equated with the brand.


The other point to consider is the quantified self data and utility will ultimately be a part of a larger connected ecosystem. In the near future data from a fitness tracker can coincide with smart grid technology to predict your needs. An example would be you just returned from a long run, your tracker communicates with your smart fridge and it prepares to dispense your favorite after work out beverage while ordering more via a real time delivery service such as Amazon Fresh.


Hardware vs. Software

Brands like Nike were at the forefront of the quantified self movement. The Fuel band resonated with innovators and early consumer adopters. With success came competition from device manufacturers that had a longer heritage and provided additional utility. They expanded beyond fitness to include emotional measurement, sleep sensors, etc… which began to move away from the Nike value proposition. The learning from this was the real value was less in the hardware and more in the data collected and the visualization of results.


The industry shift that brands like Nike see on the horizon is the shift from hardware and more around software and data. What this means is that brands like Nike see the day coming soon where it is less about the hardware and more about sharing and visualizing the data that is collected through whatever the device, be it smart clothing, watches, glasses, etc… and making thier API’s available.

Photo Jul 17, 12 05 49 PM

Fashion vs. Function

One of the primary barriers associated with wearables has been tied closely to aesthetics. A rubber bracelet that glows is not always the ideal choice for the fashion conscious. And for the early & late majority of consumer adopters, going beyond simple utility will be important for mass adoption.


Recent studies have shown that women outnumber men among prospective buyers of wearable technology devices. What I see happening in the short term are a number of partnerships such as the announced Tory Burch and Fitbit partnership or cross-industry hiring, similar to Apple hiring Burberry’s former CEO to bridge the gap between aesthetic form and function.

Tory Burch & Fitbit Partnership

Fitbit & Tory Burch

Here is a link to the ADWEEK commentary


Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

What Advertising Will Look Like In 2020

Written by: Tom Edwards
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

I wrote an article that appeared in iMedia Connection today. You can view that here and I’ve also posted it below. I hope you enjoy it.


As a technology-centric digital marketer, I am constantly evaluating consumer adoption trends, tech startups, and the latest in emerging platforms. My goal is to align consumer behavior with relevant digital solutions that create value for my partner brands.

We are in the midst of an innovation revolution, with a slew of new and innovative companies and startups vying to become the next big thing. We are now more connected than ever, and functions that used to require separate devices are now accessible simply through your phone. Finally, we have seen exponential growth in terms of the sheer volume of data being created.

We are also in a state of constant bombardment about the future state of digital marketing. Microsoft recently stated that the company believes by 2020 marketing departments will be reshaped to concentrate around three digital hubs: content, channels, and data.

Where should marketers and brands place bets over the next five years? What is hype over substance? Taking all of this into consideration, I interviewed my strategy teams in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas to map the state of digital marketing in the year 2020.

This was a very interesting exercise, as my expectation was closely aligned to the idea that we would rally around five to ten top-level topics, which are mainstream points of discussion. After the first hour, we had identified 31 “territories” we felt were going to represent the next five years of digital marketing.

We had fun with discussions of drones, crypto currency, the internet of people, and more. While the team agreed fundamentally about certain platforms making an impact, there were pros and cons to impact and feasibility. The following are the top four territories we felt would be most relevant in five years.

Mobile plus wearables equals integrated mobile

Before we look forward with mobile, it is always helpful to take a quick look back. With the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, we experienced a transformational shift, which has since changed the way we live our lives.

Generation 1 iPhone.

Prior to its launch, most mobile phones were just that — phones. The iPhone was transformational, with simple emphasis on usability, utility, and personalization via a robust app marketplace.

Heading towards 2020, we will experience another transformational shift in mobile. This time, the transformation will be less about the handset and more about mobile-as-a-mindset — coming to life through a collection of integrated technologies, some virtual and some physical, such as wearables.

The rise of integrated mobile will create a seamless physical-to-digital or “phydigital” ecosystem. From a marketing perspective, integrated mobile represents the next iteration of media-to-shelf.

Tesco virtual supermarket. South Korea.

A brand’s ability to connect with a consumer will primarily exist through mobile connections. Such as when, based on consumers’ personal preferences, brands provide contextual content that seamlessly transitions into serving a location-specific value.

Converged media and mass customization

Traditional advertising shifts, combined with on-demand behaviors, such as connected televisions, original branded entertainment, curated content, and native advertising, all wrapped with mass customization, was an extremely hot topic of discussion with a majority of the team.

We have all seen the shifts in how media is consumed. Fragmentation and non-linear consumption will lead to more cohesive and relevant networks to connect with consumers. That sounds counterintuitive, but the fragmentation is an opportunity to reimagine connections with consumers in the near future.

Refined segmentation, based on usage and self-selected behavior — overlaid with the core desire for discovery and recommendations — will create signals and new points of connection based on platform consolidation over the next five years.

We will see better connectivity between the branded entertainment being consumed and the opportunity to personalize relevant and contextual information, which is focused on creating a 1:1 connection with the consumer.

We will see the shift in terms of branded entertainment, as well as social platforms such as Facebook, now making a major strategic pivot towards a reach and frequency model, which is built to provide incremental reach to television. This shift is also predicated on the principle of lowering post frequency with a high rate of personalization through targeted media.

Here is a whitepaper that I recently wrote outlining the full Facebook shift.

Internet of Things is now connected life

Another topic of interest to the team was the Internet of Things. The term “Internet of Things” was coined in the mid ’90s and may already be dated. “Connected life” seems to be the leading candidate to describe the next wave of interconnectivity.

You may have noticed the rise in intelligent home offerings, smart-grid enabled appliances, personal fitness devices, and enhanced vehicle telematics. All of this accessibility and interconnectivity leads to more opportunities for marketers to create relevant, predictive connections with consumers.

This is both a blessing and a curse for brands and marketers. As the various connected devices communicate with one another during the course of the day, they may soon have the predictive capabilities to deliver products in near real-time based on personalized preferences.

When this happens, it may fundamentally shift our current thoughts about the five stages of the consumer buying process. To recap, the current process is based on problem recognition or need state, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior.

With a predictive model based on interconnected systems, marketers will need to focus more intently on brand affinity to drive consideration, while also accounting for consumers having to take an additional step to proactively swap a product in an existing consideration set.

Close-up mid section of man touching crystal ballAccessibility and interconnectivity throughout our everyday lives will be built on yottabytes (1 trillion terabytes) of personalized data, which will drive digital marketing significantly beyond rudimentary banners and transform traditional thinking about digital marketing.


2014 and 2020 will be similar in that Google will still be incredibly relevant for digital marketers. Google is a key player in all of the previously discussed elements, such as mobile through Android, converged media through YouTube, mobile accessibility, connected life through Fiber, telematics and autonomous vehicles, and even wearables, with the continual evolution of products like Google Glass.

I am participating in the Glass Explorer program.

By serving as the curator of the open web, Google is not a portal such as Yahoo and MSN of the past. It’s not Facebook in terms of a closed platform that limits its footprint on the open web. Because of these factors, combined with the focus on innovation, Google will be an incredibly relevant marketing platform in 2020.

Its reach and focus on innovation, as well as owning key waypoints of consumer interaction from search, will give Google’s YouTube and Google+ the ability to focus on simplifying access to all properties through single sign-on.

After a recent meeting with the Google+ product team in NYC, it became very clear to me that the role of social in the Google ecosystem is less about the stream and more about the interconnectivity of the ecosystem and the ability to connect content where it is the most relevant for a consumer.

If I were a betting man, I would anticipate that Google’s staying power for the next five years, as well as the possible acquisition of other key discoveries and curation platforms, will round out its ability to go beyond search-and-retrieval, such as Pinterest and Evernote. Remember, you heard it here first.

No one truly knows what the future holds or what digital marketing will look like in 2020, but based on 14 years of digital experience and a strong track record of identifying substance over hype, I feel confident the Microsoft view of content, channels, and data is accurate. Integrated mobile, converged media, connected life, and Google all represent the core digital hubs of content, channels, and data — and each will be relevant in 2020.

Follow Edwards at @BlackFin360.

Planet system in your hand” image via Shutterstock.

Why Google Has the Best Shot at Making the Killer Smartwatch

Written by: Larry Weintraub
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Saw this on Wired and had to share.  I’m only massively enamored with “wearable tech.” First watch the video, then read the article. I think you’ll want this too!

Why Google Has the Best Shot at Making the Killer Smartwatch

Last week, Google unveiled its vision of the smartwatch, the elusive Next Big Gadget. It takes the form of Android Wear, a new version of the mobile operating system designed specifically for on-the-body devices. It’s a good deal more sophisticated than the smartwatches we’ve seen hitherto, relying on the company’s unparalleled voice recognition for registering simple commands and promising to serve up the “info and suggestions you need, right when you need them” thanks to the same predictive, personalized algorithms that power Google Now on Android phones.

Amidst speculation that Apple’s long-fabled iWatch might in fact be a health-specific wristband, Android Wear is clearly aiming for something much bigger. And that makes sense. If there’s any company today that has a chance to make the multipurpose smartwatch we’ve all been dreaming of, it’s Google. But it’s not just heaps of data and algorithmic might that make Android Wear promising. It’s also Google’s approach to the endeavor–its willingness to let third-party developers deeper into the stack and, potentially, to let users define the experience for themselves–that could help make it a hit.

Context Is King

Context is the holy grail of wearable devices. With the limited real estate of a watch face, knowing what app, service, prompt or data point a person needs at a specific moment becomes paramount. The shiny promotional videos Google released this week show how context plays out in Android Wear in a number of situations. On the bus, your smartwatch might show you the next few stops; if there’s a meeting coming up, it’ll remind you who it’s with, and offer directions for how to get there. The video suggests a few less obvious use cases, too. If your Android Wear watch feels itself shaking around and its microphone hears music, it might figure out that you’re dancing, and tell you what song’s playing.

But context isn’t just about using sensors to intuit your environment and activity. It’s also about tying your scattered digital existence to your actual, physical self. It’s about looking at your calendar, your inbox, and your contacts in concert, cross-referencing them, and coming away with a more human understanding of your schedule, your to-do list, and your circle of friends. When it was released in 2004, Gmail did away with the hassle of organizing email by letting you search through your inbox. At its best, a contextually-savvy operating system like Android Wear takes the next step, doing away the hassle of search by surfacing the stuff you need automatically when you need it.

It’s this second, more intimate type of context that Google is so uniquely poised to conquer, according to Nick de la Mare, principal of design consultancy Big Tomorrow. De la Mare, who worked extensively on wearable projects as Executive Creator Director at Frog, sees Android Wear signaling a move to contextually-driven simplicity over the “maximalist,” computer-on-your-wrist approach of watches like the Galaxy Gear.

“There are very few companies that have that repository of data to provide that simplicity,” de la Mare says. “Google is one of the only organizations that can take the management away from you and provide something meaningful.”

Revisiting Our Assumptions About Apps

Image: GoogleContextual awareness is the key to a functionally robust smartwatch. What will make one truly useful, however, is how easy it is to use. The metric for success is simple: for a smartwatch to make sense, it has to let you do things more quickly than you could by pulling your smartphone out of your pocket.

This is where a lightweight user interface is key, and it seems like Google’s got a promising foundation, mixing concise, swipe-able cards with optional voice commands. From one perspective, it’s the logical continuation of the card-based UI that took root with Google Now. From a different viewpoint, however, it’s something considerably more radical: a reinvention of mobile apps as we know them.

The Android Wear UI is based on two core functions: “suggest” and “demand.” Suggest is the term Google uses for all the notification cards that make up the watch’s “context stream.” These could include urgent notifications, like text messages, that buzz your wrist when they come in, or morsels of data that get silently added to your stack, like scores of sports games.

But these aren’t “notifications” in the smartphone sense–hollering flags that pull you back into a third-party app. On the watch, they serve as the apps themselves. Google lays out strict guidelines for how these should work: “Omit needless text from your notifications. Design for glance-ability, not reading. Use words and phrases, not sentences. Show, don’t tell: Where possible use simple icons, glyphs, and visualizations to convey your message.”

A smartwatch has to let you do things more quickly than you could by pulling your smartphone out.

Notifications can be supplemented with additional “pages,” which people can access by swiping sideways on their smartwatch screen. These can add additional information or actions users can take on the data. The example Google gives is a reminder for a picnic. The notification itself reminds you that you have a picnic scheduled with a friend; the next page tells you that you’re responsible for bringing bread, cheese, and wine; and the third gives you a button for navigating to the spot.

It’s worth reiterating: This is Google’s idea of a smartwatch app. Timely notifications and relevant actions, all bundled up in a relatively strict visual language. Apps, in this vision, become much more homogenized; they’re about utility, service, information and action more than anything else. In this new model, you don’t tap icons to summon apps. Instead, they just pop up when you need them, triggered by contextual cues like location, time, or activity.

The other part of the Android Wear interface is “demand,” encompassing something Google refers to as the “Cue Card.” This is a list of commands that can be spoken or tapped on screen. From the look of things, it seems like these will include a preset list of actions for calling cabs, taking notes, sending messages, setting alarms and the like. These can either be triggered by tapping the screen, or by saying the command aloud. In Android Wear, apps aren’t to be thought of as discrete programs but rather as actions you can take.

Here’s an important bit: Google’s developer documents state that users will be able to choose which app corresponds to these demands. This is where Google’s willingness to let users choose could be a huge boon to their smartwatch efforts. Presumably you could pick whether saying “call me a cab” triggers Uber, say, or Lyft.


Compare this to Siri, where Apple decides which third-party services get folded in and dictates what information you receive. Think about what happens when you ask Siri what movies are playing that night. You get a few seemingly random movie times, with zero opportunity to fine-tune the results, sorting by reviewer rating or by a preferred list of movie theaters. Hypothetically, with Android Wear’s more flexible model, you could map that same “what movies are playing tonight” command to whichever movie times app worked best for you.

We can say little with certainty when it comes to what we’ll want from smartwatches and the apps that run on them. But the approach Google’s seemingly taking with Android Wear–to let third party apps in, under strict UI and UX guidelines, and to let users choose which they want to rely on–seems like a smart compromise.

Humility and Flexibility

Android Wear is a compelling vision for smartwatches. But for now, it’s just that. Google and its partners have been mum on hardware details, and much remains to be seen about how they’re planning to power a full-color, always-on display. Even if they do figure out the hardware, there are many ways in which Google’s smartwatch efforts could falter.

For one, let’s not forget, these are the people that make Google Glass. The scene in the promotional clip that shows a guy on a crowded bus talking to his watch says it all. Google continues to live in a world where wearables are an inevitability, cyborgs are cool, and talking out loud to your gadgets is as normal as striking up a conversation with the person next to you. “Google is sometimes a little bit tone deaf in terms of the social mores,” de la Mare says. And wearables, as much as anything, are devices can live and die with social acceptance.

There’s also the question of balancing utility and personalization. Google’s already working with a number of hardware partners, promising a diverse range of looks for potential Android Wear devices. Watches, at day end, are accessories, and having different styles will be a big draw. But is Android Wear itself going to be as flexible? Will users be able to pick what watch face is showing? Or to tweak the predictive powers of the “supply” stack? A mainstream smartwatch won’t likely be a one-size-fits-all solution, and having software that can accommodate different types of users and use cases will be important, too.

That gets to the more foundational question, of how much people really need a smartwatch in the first place. Is a wearable screen, as Google shows it, viable as a mainstream product? The video shows many of the vanilla use cases we’ve talked about for years: reminding you about appointments, showing you how long it takes to get to work in the morning. But not everyone has a packed calendar and a potentially gridlocked commute. Right now, Android Wear is a purely utilitarian endeavor, leaving little room for the do-anything magic that sparked the smartphone’s huge success. “There’s definitely some poetry that can happen with a smartwatch,” says de la Mare. “That’s something they’re not really exploring.”

Of course, the fact that Google is exploring at all, and inviting developers to explore with them, seems like a shrewd course. Where the multitouch wonders of the smartphone were quickly obvious, it stands to reason that finding the perfect fit for a smartwatch will take a greater level of trial and error. Apple will refine and rework its wearable device, whatever it may be, until it feels like it’s figured everything out. Google, it seems, is more inclined to do that process out in the open–like they’ve done with Glass, for better or worse. That willingness to feel things out, to see what makes sense, could be the key to its success. “If they tell everybody what the answer is, they probably will fail,” de la Mare says. “But if Google does this with humility, there’s every possibility of it becoming ubiquitous.”

CES 2014 Recap

Written by: Larry Weintraub
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

cesI returned yesterday from a fairly quick jaunt to Las Vegas for my annual CES pilgrimage.  Each year I go with high hopes, seeking technological inspiration, and this year did not disappoint.

The big guys like Panasonic, LG, Samsung, and others had massive sections but I tend to spend a little more time navigating the areas a little less traveled. CES did a good job this year of creating clusters around new technologies with areas dedicated to topics like Wearables, 3D Printing, Health and Fitness, and Robots in which multiple companies playing in those spaces were situated together.


Last year I saw the dancing robot from TOSY. The robot was there again this year, but I’m not sure he has become much more practical since he first debuted. That said, what if a robot could clean your BBQ grill while you are inside enjoying your meal? Grillbot to the rescue! I actually stood there watching this little robot clean a grill and I inundated the guy with questions like, “Can it work on a hot grill? “Do the brushes last long?” “Does it shut off automatically?” And the guy answered all of my questions in a way that made me think it might just be worth the $119 to be a little lazier.  Look, it’s not as sexy as a moonwalking robot, but if it can get me back to watching the Super Bowl that much sooner, I’m in.

(See my video of the Grillbot HERE and watch the company’s fancy version below.)

I love the idea that robots are being created to solve simple problems vs. trying to become my friend. First the Roomba swept my floor now the Grillbot cleans my grill, we’re on the right track!

Connected home

This is what I am most excited for, but it’s still not there.  I don’t necessarily need my fridge to talk to my dishwasher who in turn talks to my vacuum cleaner, but I would like an automated system that helps me manage my life a little better.  All the big guys like Samsung and LG had Connected Home areas. But when I asked the guy at Samsung if he could point me to the refrigerator that scanned my food as it went in and then sent me a text when I needed more eggs, he said, “I don’t know about that, but we have a cool fridge over there.” Needless to say, the technology we all REALLY want from our connected home still has a ways to go.

Below you can see how LG’s “HomeChat” is their entry into the Connected Home concept and what they explain as a way to text with your appliances.

Trending closer to the “make my life better” concept, I did like some of what I saw at the Cisco booth. They were showing some examples under their “Internet of Everything” banner wherein you can control and track all of your appliance usage and the corresponding bills.

ciscoWhat we really need now is for someone like Apple to make all of this stuff simple, intuitive, and elegant. The products being created by Nest are more of what I was looking for and sadly if they were there, I didn’t see many of them (though I did notice there were suddenly a lot of companies making Thermostat’s that synced with your iPhone).


Wearables could be seen in full effect in the Fitness Tech area. A plethora of companies were showcasing all the ways to track your health and workouts using bracelets, chest straps, and head gear. All of it synced with your smartphone and provided reasonable utility, but nothing on the floor cried ‘must have!’

Patrons wearing Google Glass and sporting their Samsung and Pebble connected watches were seen in large quantities.  The latter announced it’s new Pebble Steel watch at CES which appeared to be well regarded.

pebble-steel-3qtr-trio-zoomI know there is a lot happening in this space, but I left CES feeling like the real innovations are being kept under wraps because what was being shared openly wasn’t in line with what I’ve been reading about.

Solar electronics

A large part of my Vegas trip was spent attempting to stop my iPhone’s battery from dying and looking constantly for ways to charge it.  I was excited to see several smaller manufacturers offering products powered by the sun. (I hope someone from Apple was as excited to see this as I was.) Portable Bluetooth stereos at one booth caught my fancy and said products even had USB ports to charge your (previously referenced) phone and tablet while you tan to the sounds of your Spotify playlist.


Every year the televisions get larger and thinner. This year they curved, bended, and produced 4K images dwarfing the already impressive HD that we just got used to.  My question is, “do we need this right now?” You can tell me all day long how the curved TV is a more immersive experience but I heard a friend say that now it won’t fit in his entertainment center! Meanwhile, while the 4K picture is truly amazing, unless the networks are planning to roll out a slew of programs filmed with 4K in mind, you will be watching Game of Thrones with a picture so clear it actually takes away from the Hollywood magic.

Without a doubt, the most conversations around Curved TVs centered on the Michael Bay meltdown at the Samsung press conference!

3D Printers

My business partner, Terry, was enthralled with the 3D Printing area. Numerous manufactures showcased their printers and peripheral 3D scanners for an approving crowd.  The future for this sector is truly inspiring and we should be seeing great things from this in the years to come. If I had one critique for this area, I wish there had been more examples of how 3D printers are churning out actual useful household, automotive, and medical items and less examples of dolls and figurines.  That said, the band playing the classic rock soundtrack using instruments generated from 3D printers was quite impressive.

Photo: Ben Pimentel/MarketWatch

Photo: Ben Pimentel/MarketWatch


Another favorite was less about the technology and more about the creative integration of existing technology.

TreadmilliFit showed off their “Everything Inside” concept which came to life in the form of a flat screen television positioned above a NordicTrack treadmill enabling the exerciser to virtually tour the world via Google Street View maps.  The idea that you could “hike” the Grand Canyon without leaving your house was almost inspiring enough to, well, not leave the house.

Overall it was a good CES and I’m glad I was there. The promise of what is to come was more impressive than what I actually saw, but as a creative dreamer always looking for inspiration, there was plenty oozing from the Las Vegas Convention Center this year.

Google Glass The Future Is Now

Written by: Digitally Approved
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share

Wearable technology, specifically head mounted displays have been a part of science fiction canon for a very long time. Fans of the 80’s anime series Dragon Ball were accustomed to seeing characters with their own version of “Google Glass” interfaces. This preexisting association can be both a positive and a negative when it comes to the potential mass adoption of Google Glass.


The explosion of fitness related wearable technology with the Fit Bit, Nike Fuel Band & the recently launched Jawbone fitness band have led to a rise in mass appeal for wearable technology. The trend has been if the wearable technology provides relevance & utility as a natural extension of our daily lives we are willing to put our time & dollars towards supporting this type of product. For Google Glass, the goal is to further integrate the real world into the Google ecosystem thus creating a natural extension into your daily life, even if you look a bit like Geordi La Forge from Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Google Glass has been the subject of a lot of hype over the past few months. From influencers wearing them at SXSW to recent sightings throughout NYC. What started as a project from Google X Labs is now on the verge of becoming a mainstream device. Whether this will go from Uber nerd category to mainstream essential is yet to be seen, but this will fundamentally impact the intersection of physical & digital moving forward.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 12.25.37 PM

Google Glass, What are the specs and what should I expect from the UX?

The recent release of the Google Glass tech specs outline Google’s commitment to bring the product to market and attempt to redefine how we interact with the physical world. The specs include:

  • a high resolution display which is equivalent to a 25 inch HD TV from 8 feet away
  • 5 MP camera and 720P video
  • Bone condution audio transducer
  • Wi-fi & Bluetooth enabled
  • 12 GB of useable memory synced with Google cloud storage (16 GB total)
  • 1 full day of typical use


Outside of the tech specs, I was really interested in diving into the Google Mirror developer API’s. This is where you can really begin to see how Google plans on allowing the developer ecosystem to support the product & experiences moving forward.

One of the core elements of the user experience is tied to the concept of Timeline Cards. These cards display the top level content that users will see. There are essentially two levels of navigation, with a top level primary and a sub-timeline for easy organization. Timeline cards support text, rich HTML, images or video content. From a brand perspective, understanding the relationship between relevant content & how information is presented & consumed via Timeline cards will be a key area to focus on as launch approaches.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 12.44.56 PM

Similar to how Facebook allows the usage of “action objects” to further drive content acceleration and discoverability through the social graph, the Google Mirror API allows the addition of action based interactivity into the app experience. For now commands such as “read aloud”, “reply by voice” and “navigate to” are inherent to the navigation, but this can extend “discover” or other action verbs. More importantly, it will be interesting to track how user actions are then reported back, or ultimately mapped to contextual or location based search. It is easy to see how actions could then be turned into opportunities to share both within the construct of Google & possibly overlays to the physical world via augmented reality tagging or proximity based recommendations.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 12.49.18 PM

Subscriptions seem to be a key element to the Google Glass experience. Both from an engagement & tracking standpoint. Subscriptions tell you when users choose specific menu items or when they share to a contact. Once an action is taken, it will be possible to take a specific action, such as share a photo. This will allow branded experiences to see what is truly engaging to the end user.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 12.52.33 PM

Location is going to be a key element of Google Glass. If the user opt’s-in and grants access it is possible to use the Google Mirror API to observe the user’s location in timeline items, request their last known location directly, and subscribe to periodic location updates. You can also deliver pre-rendered map images in timeline cards by giving the Mirror API the coordinates to draw. Basically, location is the key attribute to connect the user to their environment that can then be overlaid map data or even with augmented reality interfaces.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 1.27.55 PM

The biggest brand opportunities will be tied to mapping users locations with digital overlays to take real-world actions. This is already coming to life through Google’s augmented reality massively multiplayer online game for Android Ingress. Ingress seems to be designed with Google Glass in mind. I will be going into deeper detail around the impact of Ingress and the potential for brands in a future post but brands such as Zipcar & Jamba Juice are already testing the impact that this type of engagement can provide.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 5.03.24 PM

What is the potential for Google Glass over the next 3-5 years?

Interconnectivity – The intersection of technology and utility is going to be a key area of focus over the next 5 years. Interconnection between smart grid technology in our homes that intersect with mobile devices such as Google Glass will continue to gain traction. When it comes to wearable technology, the overlay of digital into our everyday lives via products such as Google Glass are just the tip of the iceberg on a new landscape of interaction both physically and socially. Changing the view of real world with digital overlays will continue to develop into a new form of communication and interaction.

Contextual Data – The trend digitally is a movement from mass social interaction towards contextual networks. This same concept will push through wearable technology. You look at the rise of the Nike Fuel band and the gamification and sharability of personal information. This trend will continue to expand beyond fitness into other facets of our lives. Data tied to fitness, work habits, leisure etc… will all begin to create different sets of data that can then be visualized, gamified and used to help us lead more efficient, effective lives.

This also maps to Google’s larger strategy tied to contextual & personalized search. If you watch what is happening from a search standpoint, one of the bigger trends is the move towards personalized & socially enabled search where results will differ by individual, and social weighting of content will be a key driver to determine what search results you see. This coincides with Google Glass, as the intersection of location, search & social are evident based on how the UX is being defined.

Google Search Plus Your World

Content anywhere – How we consume content has changed significantly over the last decade. Content ubiquity will become accelerated with Google Glass and similar products that provide HD display’s and voice activated controls allowing for access to streaming content on demand. This is just the beginning as paper thin displays and wearable technology continues to evolve. What was once thought to be science fiction is quickly becoming reality.


Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Predictions for 2013

Written by: Digitally Approved
Bookmark and Share
Bookmark and Share


Each year everyone and their mother expound on what is likely to happen in the coming year. A couple of years ago we figured, hek, why re-invent the wheel, we’ll just steal other people’s ideas and make them our own. Just kidding. What we really do is read through everyone’s predictions and pick out the ones we like. Then we add our thoughts, drop in a few quotes and some pretty pictures and give you a quick snapshot of what may just be waiting around the new year corner. If you’d like to download this in pretty White Paper form, grab that HERE, meanwhile we’ve pasted most of it in below.  Enjoy and Happy New Year!


Social and Digital in 2013: Predictions from Fanscape and other notable sources 

(A Fanscape POV)



Yes, we have our point of view of what will happen in 2013, but you don’t need yet another prediction list, do you? Rather than pontificate exclusively on what we think will happen, we’ve sifted through the myriad of predictions from great minds and loud voices and distilled them down to a handful of common themes and good ideas.  We think you, our friends, clients, colleagues, and even family members should find these interesting.  We tried not to use too many big words and whenever possible, added some pretty pictures.  So, consider this a fun read and hopefully you’ll find a few nuggets to make you sound smart at that Vegan dinner party you committed to attend as a New Year’s resolution.


Your Friends at Fanscape

P.S. We’ll gladly entertain any feedback, just send it to our CEO – LarryW@Fanscape.com.


The Year of The Connected Me

The recurring and overarching theme in this year’s predictions is connectivity. Thanks to our phones, our tablets, even our clothing, we’re always on. The result is that we’re doing more, we’re tracking more, and we expect more.  We don’t need a bigger TV, rather we need our connected devices to see us, talk to us, and encourage us to keep going when we really want to stop.

It will take more to get us off our couches and into the stores, but that’s a challenge that will be met.



The 2013 TrendWatching Report calls this, “(Self) Actualized,” and says that thanks to technology, we can do so much more to make ourselves better.   In their (edited) words…

The motivation behind most all consumption can be traced to self-improvement or transformation, if not simply being ‘better’ – more successful, popular, attractive, healthier, smarter. In 2013, more consumers than ever will adopt new technologies, platforms, and experiences to identify, measure, compete and learn their way towards a better self.  Welcome to the (self)-transformation economy.

The (self)-Transformational Economy

Self-Tech: Tech-driven hyper-intensity encompassing everything from mobile self-tracking and monitoring, to social (but also self-centered) media.

Accessible aspiration: Online culture, social media and the long tail of celebrity have unlocked a culture of no-limits aspiration and ambition.

Internal improvement: They’re seeking new ways to improve, enhance, and cherish themselves and their lifestyles.

Lifestyle maximization: Not just health, consumers are quantifying all sorts of lifestyle metrics from mood to location to finances and beyond.

Ambient technology: Quantified relies on sensors, devices, and online platform.  Key development is that these are increasingly flexible, natural, and wearable. If not, almost invisible.

Gamification of Self: Games make us more willing to improve.

Supporting Stats

  • In 1976, 25,000 people competed in marathons
  • In 2000, 353,000 competed in marathons
  • In 2011, 518,000 competed in marathons
  • 7 of 10 adults wear self-trackers (weight, diet, exercise, even w/o technology) – Pew 2012


If the business community has learned anything in the past couple of years, it’s that you can’t rest on your laurels, if you do, someone will come and take your business. Putting the customer at the center is vital.

Frog Design’s Kalle Buschmann explains, “For a long time Apple has been the poster child for the product and business development of experience-driven technology—and its success. But in the last two to three years we have seen new players, such as Square and Dropbox enter the market. As a result, established companies are being pressed to change their game. Specifically, the big ecosystem players: Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have done their homework, redesigned their websites, applications, operating systems, services, and added self-developed hardware. They all have one common goal, no matter how different their businesses: to optimize and differentiate the customer experience. In 2012 many of these efforts saw the light of day, but it will be in 2013 that the recent developments will reach their climax as customers start to respond to the new product landscape.

One thing that these product ecosystems have in common is that they don’t focus on the technology as a key differentiator anymore. Customer experience has become the only source of long-term competitive advantages, and today the main barrier to great experiences isn’t the tech. It’s business cases, company cultures, and the capabilities to deliver and orchestrate the intended experience through all touchpoints over time.“


Big data is a big topic. It was all the rage in 2012 and now that we know we can collect so much, how do we deal with it?

Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff predicts that “in 2013, we’ll see the fruits of that data: targeted information on all channels, new discoveries that impact all walks of life based on deep data dives. We’ll have better products, sharper and more insightful predictions (on future elections, weather; basic needs like food, water, shelter and energy). We’ll also see the rise of the Data Scientist.”

Eric Savitz from Forbes claimed, “Big data will meet social. Five richest big data sources on the Web include social graph, intent graph, consumption graph, interest graph and mobile graph. Concept of single corporate data warehouse is dead. Multiple systems need to be tied together.”

Expect not only more data, but more people that can actually deal with the data. We’re severely lacking in a workforce that can pro-actively determine which data to collect, translate it, and then make it actionable. In the words of Annika Jiminez at Greenplum, Data Scientists “must have very strong programming skills and foundational statistical chops and communication skills.” In other words, someone has to be able to explain how that data helps your business as if they were talking to your grandmother.


Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff also predicts that “in 2013, consumers will spend more time cleaning house, assuming that whatever they have posted on social media, what they consume and where they go will be public info — unless they actively seek to keep it out of the digital domain. Perhaps 2013 will see the rise of digital-jamming tools — software and hardware that acts a bit like “incognito mode” in Google Chrome. Not only can your own hardware not see where you are or what you’re doing, but third-party sensors are rendered unable to see you as well.”


If you aren’t sitting with your phone in your hand, your tablet or laptop, well, on your lap, while watching Game of Thrones or Modern Family, then you are in the minority. Stop calling it the second screen, it’s your primary screen.  You’re not carrying your 50” LCD around with you, are you?  No, it’s your mobile device that is with you all the time, so doesn’t that make it your first screen and not second? We don’t need to belabor how mobile is changing our lives, just expect it to continue to enhance our viewing experience in 2013.


Remember Borders? You know, that place where you could not only buy a book, but you could also sip coffee, listen to some music, and peruse the latest Blu-Rays. It was the first time you were actually encouraged to relax and do more than just buy what the retailer had to offer. Well, Amazon put them out of business, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up hope that it can actually be fun to walk into a store. Retail has to improve. The cocktail of technology, creative thinking, and the need to get out of the house will inspire someone soon to make us excited to deal with traffic and risk getting a parking ticket.

Look forward to interactive gesture-based kiosks, personalized shopping experiences, facial recognition, and cash transactions that don’t require change purses. And look for new forms of gamification and loyalty programs.


Talk to any mobile expert and they’ll tell you, it’s not about the device it’s about the mindset. You have to break yourself of thinking of mobile as a phone loaded with apps. Soon you will be the phone. Ok, before we get too sci-fi and start talking about chip implants, let’s just look at 2013 as the year we start wearing mobile devices.

From watches to shoes, from shirts to glasses, we’ll see a lot of technology stitched into the fabric of what we wear, gathering data and helping us live better lives.

Frog Design’s Paul Pugh said this about wearables, “Devices on our bodies will multiply. Sensors, cameras, input methods, and displays will work their way into our clothing.

They’ll listen for commands and whisper in our ears. Our environment will respond to us in new and interesting ways. The proliferation of large displays and projection technologies will relegate the small display on our phone to private or a constrained set of tasks. A new layered interaction model of touch, voice, and gesture will emerge as important as consumption: the continuous exchange of what we are doing, where we are, and who we are with. “

Supporting Stat

  • The wearable device market will be worth $1.5B by 2014, up from $800M in 2012  – (Juniper, Oct., 2012)


An article in Forbes stated, “Promising to be the most disruptive technology since the World Wide Web, the Internet of Things is predicted to result in up to 100 billion Internet-connected objects by 2020. Relying on embedded computing and sensors, and driven by smartphone and tablet adoption, IoT in 2013 will witness an explosion of new uses by consumers and enterprises alike. The public is captivated by the vision of being able to control everything in their homes and offices, from temperature, lighting and security to using devices to brew cups of coffee, program entertainment, check health records, and conduct a myriad of other tasks. Enterprises are also beginning to embrace IoT for tracking physical assets, managing customer relationships, and creating efficiencies in business operations and supply chains.”

Just what is the Internet of Things?

“Over 50% of Internet connections are things. In 2011, there were over 15 billion things on the Web, with   50 billion+ intermittent connections. By 2020, three will be over 30 billion connected things, with over 200 billion with intermittent connections. Key technologies here include embedded sensors, image recognition and NFC. By 2015, in more than 70% of enterprises, a single exec will oversee all Internet connected things. Becomes the Internet of Everything.”  – Eric Savitz, Forbes


One of our favorites that we’re lifting straight from Trendwatching is the idea that as consumers we’re excited to buy from our home country.  All those political ads back in October and November made us want to bring back jobs and innovation to the good ole USA.  “The perfect storm of consumers’ ever-greater lust for NEWISM and niches, the expectation of (instantly!) getting just the right product, ongoing eco-concerns and the desire for more interesting stories will all combine with the spread of new local manufacturing technologies such as 3D-printing and make-on-demand, to trigger a resurgence in domestic manufacturing in established markets in 2013.”


We couldn’t cover everything, but we’ll also be keeping an eye out for:

  • mCommerce
  • Content Organization and Curation
  • Education / Digital Universities
  • Crowdfunding
  • Same-Day-Delivery
  • Google+… Yes, Google+