For Christmas I received my long awaited Apple Watch. For several months leading up to the holiday I wanted to buy one, but held off knowing it would make a great gift. Boy, was I right. Now, I know that there have been a variety of evaluations of the Apple Watch. Most people agree that the watch is for early adopters and “tech geeks.” Which is exactly why you should go get one right now and start thinking about how they will change the future of what you do.
I have used the watch for making phone calls, sending text messages, calendaring and many more things. A lot of the apps have a long way to go but some of them are pretty impressive for the nascent product. The health applications are pretty impressive already and clearly are continuing to grow. I think Apple has a real opportunity in the health market with the information it is able to gather from the device around your wrist.
And that is the golden key that all marketing and technology firms are interested in, data.
So, how does this affect digital signage? I can envision a couple of ways that digital signage will integrate with wearables in a very short time. One is with the sharing of data. Right now the Apple Watch knows my heart rate at any given time. That means it also knows my resting heartrate, active heart rate and average heart rate. It knows how many steps I take in a day, how much exercise I have done and how often I have stood compared to sat. In conjunction with my iPhone it also knows everywhere I have been. All of this information would be very interesting for drugstores and pharmacies. By walking up to a digital sign and allowing my wearable to share information with it, the sign can point me to specific items (e.g. vitamins, health drinks) that may be of interest to me. If I go into an athletics store, the information on my watch could be shared with the digital sign to point me in the direction of clothes specific to the exercise I like to do. It could also point me in the direction of equipment that may help me with my regular exercising, say a book on proper stretching before running.
Think about wayfinding and appointment at offices. How often have you you walked into an office building and wondered where you are supposed to go? Colleges and Universities try hard to provide wayfinding, but their campuses are so large it is very difficulty. What if you could hold your watch near a digital sign and it read your appointments for that day. Then the sign showed you a map of exactly where you needed to go. That map could then easily be send right to your phone. When you walk into a doctor’s office, you could simply check in by getting close to the digital sign. Heck, at the same time you could share some of the health information that your watch has been tracking.
All of the above examples are what we can do right now with the technology that exists. Think about how this changes and grows as Apple and other competitors begin to develop better products.
There is one major caveat about all of this working as planned. Right now, Apple does not permit developers access to the iWatch NFC radio. There seems to not be a strong reason for Apple to keep this from developers. I would expect that they will begin to see the power that access to the NFC antennae would give developers and how that would drive sales at the App Store, and before too long they will provide this access.
I am a believer in the concept that those of us in the technology field need to be early adopters and tech geeks. We need to understand where technology stands today and where it is moving in the future. If you don’t have a smart watch of any type, now is the time to go get one. The future is moving in that direction!