Over the past year, interest in wearable technology has skyrocketed. A recent Nielsen report suggests that about 36 million adult Americans currently own and use some form of wearable technology. This makes sense, as everyone I knew suddenly had an UP Band, Fitbit, Gear Watch or other smart device on their wrist last year. IDC predicts that more than 19 million wearable devices will be sold globally this year, three times the number that were sold last year.
We saw Samsung go out of the gate early this year with their Galaxy Gear SmartWatches, and now we’re seeing almost all the other major smartphone manufacturers fast to follow. Motorola and LG are already offering demos of their wearable devices, and rumors of an Apple iWatch have dominated the media recently.
More impressively, at the Google I/O conference, we saw Samsung, Motorola and LG all announce wearable devices that run on the Android Wear OS. Google’s Android Wear OS opens the door for developers to come up with applications that will help us to rethink what we can do with wearables.
For instance, Google gave a really cool demonstration on an Android device. Simply by tapping once on a “sleeping” device powered by Android Wear, you could give a command like “Google, call me a car,” which would then activate an app like Lyft or Uber.
Experiences like this are obviously tied to our wallets – the app demonstration by Google would be connected to a payment system of some kind. And the payments industry will need to be ready to connect your digital wallet beyond your smartphone to the latest wearable device.
You may think the idea of a wearable wallet is “out there,” but Juniper Research says the retail revenue from smart wearable devices, including smartwatches and glasses, will reach $19 billion by 2018. Wearable payments aren’t a replacement for mobile, but an extension. They further connect our digital and physical worlds –bridging the gap between online and offline shopping experiences.
We’re at an exciting inflection point, where wearable devices are not just the next cool gadget, but actually enable unique experiences, that help you better engage with the world around you — especially when they connect with the mobile computer that’s already in your pocket.
Easy, seamless experiences on wearables is what’s going to get us one step closer to walking into a store and having your grocery order ready for pick-up the moment you walk in.