Brands and the two kinds of wearable technology

Body-worn devices aren't going anywhere, but head-worn device development is going to change everything for marketers. Soon.

At present, wearable gadgets such as Google Glass and the Nike+ Fuelband are generally classed in two categories, but those categories are about to change. Right now, the buckets are phone-like devices, such as Google Glass and Galaxy Gear, and self-tracking (or “quantified self”) devices such as the Nike+ Fuelband, Fitbit, and Up by Jawbone. The rumored Apple iWatch could be the first device to bridge this gap by tracking your steps and calling your assistant, as could whatever Microsoft is secretly, but definitely, building behind closed doors.

However, before long, the divide will inevitably lie between head-worn and body-worn technologies — and I say “body-worn” because we'll have options for our wrists, our ankles, our fingertips, and even inside various parts of our bodies if we choose.

Both head-worn and body-worn devices will be able to integrate phone-like capabilities and self-tracking. Body-worn, or body-implanted, devices will be able to track, to communicate, and to control. Think about wearing a Nintendo Power Glove to control Mario. Drawing a circle in the air with your fingertip could one day wake up your computer, for example. The Leap Motion 3D Controller is already making huge strides in this direction with an external sensor, and wearable technology is a natural complement.

The differentiator for head-worn, or head-implanted, devices is that they can address the things we perceive, and give complex feedback directly and discreetly.

Brands have already found countless ways to integrate themselves into self-tracking and phone-like devices, from pop-up ads for shoes in fitness apps to featured food brands in diet apps. Integrating into the unique capabilities of head-worn devices, though, is still largely uncharted territory. Head-worn devices can, and are already beginning to, fuse digital information into the things we see. More importantly, they have the potential to intercept and assist us at decision-making trigger points.

To prepare for the new age, get your brands thinking about the things their targets see and do throughout the day, and when it might be appropriate to provide a service, like when consumers use or purchase your product or come across a pain point with which your brand can help.

Body-worn devices aren't going anywhere, but head-worn device development is going to change everything for marketers. Soon.

Annie Scott Riley is a Google Glass Explorer and senior social engagement manager at Carmichael Lynch Spong. Follow Annie on Twitter: @AnnieScott

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