Commentary

Wearables Heating Up As Facebook, Apple And Nike Get In On The Next Big Marketing Craze

Facebook's purchase of Moves is truly one to watch -- probably, quite literally, at a later stage -- in a week where Apple and Nike were rumoured to be talking about working more closely in a way that, one can imagine, would see the fitness brand's Fuel technology moving from wristbands in to Apple products both present and future. It's very easy to see how this would allow any iOS device -- be it a smartphone, watch or some other wearable item, measuring and logging activity. Throw in some bluetooth connectivity and owners will be taken on their rewarding virtual run around Tokyo or New York to demonstrate how many Fuel points they've earned without any unbuckling and plugging in.

So Facebook's move on Moves underscores not just the growing importance of wearables but also the wider plans to incorporate wearable technology into the two items you will nearly always have on you -- a phone and a watch. With no need to wear your lone badge of honour device round a wrist or carry around a tracking device of some description, the wearable revolution will continue unabated (albeit less so as a separate item).

I was fortunate enough to chair a panel at the OMMA Mobile London conference, which took place earlier this month, and there was huge interest in wearables for several reasons. Not only did it give brands an opportunity to start up new conversations with consumers online, but crucially, in-store. Imagine a Moves partner being able to reward you for a great run with a money-off voucher on a fitness book, next time you're in-store. Or Apple and Nike combining through iBeacons to allow banks to promote in-branch lower-cost life insurance products to those who are keeping themselves in shape or perhaps start up a club that offers a free coffee at a well-known chain next time a member is relaxing with the papers after a workout.

The feedback from the excellent range of panelists at OMMA Mobile London suggested that wearables are exciting not just because of the marketing and advertising implications, both online and in-store. For those involved in the earliest days of wearables, the most exciting feedback is that they are accepted by all demographics equally -- from the youth playing in Sunday league football games through to lycra-clad men and women burning off extra calories cycling in to work or getting a few extra saddle miles in at the weekend. 

With the widespread headlines about obesity and the resulting health issues, this allows brands to be at the forefront of a good news story -- one of technology getting people out there burning off energy rather than slumped on the sofa second-screening and looking for minerals on Minecraft. 

The technology is innovative, it's widely accepted, and the possibilities are exciting. Wearables, even if they do migrate in to the 'already-wornables,' is truly one of the most exciting areas to keep an eye on right now.

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