Wearing your heart (lungs, brain,legs, et al) on your sleeve

Written by on January 5, 2015 in Opinion with 1 Comment

Thankfully for many, the ‘bah-humbug’ season is over and we can get down to business again. If, like me, you are tired of hearing and reading predictions for the coming year I will spare you further agony.

Predicting what will happen in 2015 is akin to analysts telling us what the next big trend will be when it is already trending or Gartner adding another magic quadrant to find a spot to fit in new technology or new prospects.

I wanted so hard to start this year being less cynical but it is difficult with so much crystal ball-gazing going on around this time of low news output. In any case, who can possibly predict the next ‘black swan’ or big disruption in the digital services industry that hasn’t happened already? After all, isn’t that the essence of disruption – not knowing what is going to happen next and being surprised when it does?

It is far easier, and probably more accurate, to take a look at what started disrupting in 2014 and see how much more disruption it can create in the coming year. Wearables are a good example of technology only just starting to make their disruptive mark.

As the range of devices you are wearing increases so will the confusion potential buyers be faced with. Deciding what one needs a wearable for (and if they really need one) is the first issue, and then deciding which device in an already crowded market, they should opt for.

The first rush was for unobtrusive wristbands that measure body movement and some other limited functions and send the information to an app that tells the wearer what they have been doing and what they need to do to reach goals they have set.

We are now seeing second generation wrist devices that replace watches and add a plethora of new features not only to tell you the time but to warn and display messages from your smartphone, provide location information, make payments, advise when friends are close, where specials can be found in addition to letting you know your heart is racing or you are not sleeping so well. Some are even fitted with sensors that analyze your wrist perspiration!

For those that prefer to stick with their own watches Montblanc has come up with a smart ‘watch band’ that can fitted to a retro watch (presumably theirs) and offer the usual wearable smarts reporting to an app.

But the revolution is not so much to do with the devices or that we are willing to buy cool technology that helps stay alive longer. Like the more mature ‘connected car’ market has discovered already, it’s the data collected that makes the money. Wearable manufacturers are simply vying for access to bodies, the real money will come from selling your data to anyone that wants to sell you something you probably don’t even know you need yet.

Insurance companies are already calculating motor vehicle insurance premiums based on information on driving habits being sent from smart cars. It won’t be long before health insurance policies will be calculated from information your wearable device is sending.

You will soon be able to opt for ‘emergency cover’ that will not only send vital information on your state of health to a monitoring center but it will also provide your location to emergency services. We are already seeing experimental drone-mounted defibrillators that can reach a patient faster than any other means. How long before these drones will able to deliver drugs, bandages, blood, etc. to the sick and injured in situ?

That’s fantastic news but the really big money will come from advertisers that are aware of your body state and will inundate you with offers of vitamins, pharmaceuticals, sun cream, body lotions, monthly consumables and even contraceptives (presumably when a sense of arousal is detected).

Unlike your browser and smartphone activities being monitored, the wearable era will monitor your very being and open it up to anyone willing to pay for it. So, before you rush to buy that next brilliant piece of body technology, think carefully – is it worth spending money on or should they be giving it you?

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About the Author

About the Author: Tony is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide. .

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  1. Bob says:

    Or should you be running in the opposite direction as fast as your clapped-out heart, lungs and legs will carry you ? The idea of being perma-monitored by insurance companies and pharma (and inundated with whatever FUD and corresponding snake-oil seems most likely to open my wallet) fills me with nothing but horror. But it is most certainly coming and will be linked first to my own health (about which we must all be fretting night and day), then to discounted insurance, then to no insurance for you if you won’t play ball. What a wonderful world…
    Happy New Year, Tony…

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