Wearable technology has been flashing in and out of the news for a decade or more—leaving most of us feeling . . . intrigued. Ideas that once only existed in science fiction movies and comic books are now on the shelves—available to anyone willing to buy them. However, many of us are still asking whether the technology is honestly practical or if it’s just a “flash in the pan”—grabbing attention for introducing thought-provoking design, influencing manufacturers’ stock prices, and creating fascinating tech magazine articles, rather than wearable technology truly being a product that consumers believe they need.
One thing is certain: wearable technology is the leading edge of a user interface that is more completely integrated—a step toward machines that are truly like a “part of us.” Integration is a driving focus in the development and advancement of technology; appropriately, integration is also a critical part of business events!
Some Unexpected Facts about the Future of Wearables:
- An estimated 17.1 million smartwatches were sold worldwide in 2015. ²
- Shipments of Smart Wearable units are expected to increase from 27 million (in 2014), to 116 million in 2017. ¹
- $53 billion is the projected market for wearable devices by 2019. ¹
How Can Wearables Benefit Event Planners?
As with any technology, event planners should only employ a tech option if it brings a genuine benefit. In the case of wearable technology, many of the choices CAN make sense for event planners. Even at their most basic, wearable devices offer hands-free connection, and event planners have their hands FULL (often literally).
Many of the most successful wearables focus on lifestyle and health (helping users to track their steps, monitor their heart rate, and prevent sun-damaged skin, for example), but wearables can provide many benefits for event organizers and exhibitors. Here are a few products that may make work easier for event professionals:
- Google Glass and GlassUp – although Google Glass has had a somewhat sketchy reception from the general public and the product is currently in a state of transition, there are definite advantages to headsets and eye wear. The optical head-mounted display can allow:
- Facial recognition
- Hands-free photography and videography
- Photo manipulation
- Sharing to social networks
- Connection to apps
- Reminders and scheduling
- Voice recognition
- Voice activated search results and queries
Indeed, GlassUp intentionally avoids the futuristic appearance of Google Glass. The company offers headsets that look like regular glasses but are designed to offer personalized connectivity and notifications for travelers and exhibition attendees (including integrating customized apps for business events and shows). The translation capabilities alone are enough to make these options valuable for many business events!
- Smart Contacts – options such as the iOptik Contact allow many of the benefits of smartglasses, with a wider viewing range and without affecting the wearer’s appearance.
- Daqri Smart Helmet – this wearable option protects the wearer’s head, keeps a person’s hands free, and projects augmented reality that can display materials such as schematics, diagrams, and instructions that offer valuable assistance at job sites, in training sessions, or for demonstrations.
Once worn only by Dick Tracy, smartwatches are now readily available. Although it was expected that 4 out of every 10 wristwatches would be smartwatches by 2016 ³, many of us may still be hard-pressed to find anyone wearing one. However, smartwatches make a LOT of sense for event planners and exhibitors.
Whether you choose the Apple Watch, Pebble, or Android Wear, smartwatches can make it simple to connect with your phone, apps, contacts, and the Internet. Smartwatches offer built-in connectivity and conveniences—such as:
- Standalone phone
- Internet connection and data service
- Instant notifications
Something to consider: most smartwatches work best (or even require) a connected smartphone.
Moving Forward with Wearables
Wearable technology is still unusual and novel enough to help trade show displays and event exhibitors make an impact. “. . . Currently, the market is friendlier toward cheaper and simpler wrist-mounted devices that only offer notifications and tracking as opposed to full-fledged mobile operating systems boasting a range of apps (like the Apple Watch).” ² Although headsets and smartwatches may not appeal to the masses just yet, event planners are an ideal candidate for this technology—people who need information and constant connection, hands-free and on-the-go!
How Can SmartSource Help?
SmartSource Rentals can provide the technological foundation for any business event. Our nationwide network of branches can provide your event with the lighting, staging, sound, digital signage, servers, and software that create successful events! You’ve got enough to do—let US take care of the tech! Give us a call today at 800.888.8686