What people are saying about wearable technology in 2014

As part of MEC’s discussion on wearable technology taking place this week as part of Social Media Week London, we have taken a look at the social media discussions around wearable technology over the past year.

Wearable tech has been a hot topic ever since the launch of Google Glass in April 2013, a device that has the potential to change how we go about our day to day lives, transforming even the most mundane of tasks. We are now at a point where it has been reported that 71% of 16 – 24 year olds want ‘Wearable Tech’. The issue of wearable tech has come back into focus in the past couple of weeks, following the announcement of the Apple Watch.

Wearable tech – the key players:
The chart below shows the social media discussion volumes for the top organisations in the wearable technology sphere. Unsurprisingly Google tops the list, with the Google Glass technology being synonymous with wearable tech at this point. In addition to this product, the organisation has also been in the headlines following a patent for a camera contained  within contact lenses. It is clear that Google wishes to remain the front runner in the industry.

WT

The presence of Fitbit as the second most discussed company is particularly interesting. This company, with its lifestyle technology products such as the Fitbit Zip and Fitbit Flex have been popular with consumers for a couple of years now. In most cases people won’t even be aware that they are using a ‘wearable tech’ product. Key to the brands strong performance within social media discussion is the clever interaction between these products and social media. The product will automatically tweet the users exercise stats, using the #Fitstats hashtag. This allows users to interact with each other, developing an online community of users for support.

Another interesting point that I noted on this list is the presence of new companies who are emerging to establish the large established brands. The likes of Fitbit, Jawbone and Pebble are mixing with, and in some cases outperforming Apple, Nike and Sony. Pebble is a particularly interesting case in point, with this company having raised $10.3 million through social crowdfunding website Kickstarter. Since then the company has sold more than 400,000 smartwatches.

Social media discussion for Nike’s wearable technology offering, the Fuelband is particularly interesting. This product, which was even work by Apple CEO Tim Cook, was discontinued in April. Social media discussion around this announcement expressed disappointment that Nike was ‘giving up’ on wearable technology so easily. The announcement, which was blamed on staff layoffs, even had some commentators speculating as to whether we were witnessing the end of wearable technology.

The Oculus Rift is another interesting development in this area. The virtual reality head mounted display has seen a lot of social media discussion over the past year. A lot of this discussion surrounded the acquisition of the company by Facebook in March 2014 for up to $2 billion. What makes this deal even more surprising is that a consumer version of this device is not expected until mid 2015.  It’s definitely the coolest/most futuristic looking device currently in development!

Finally Apple was always going to figure prominently on this list. Even though the Apple Watch wasn’t announced until last week, anticipation had been building for the past year. It remains to be seen how well the product will fare, with many social media commentators questioning the need for the device. Personally I feel that the product will act as a gateway to wearable tech for many consumers, in much the same way as the iPhone and iPad introduced people to smartphones and a new form of personal computing.

As we can see, the field of wearable tech is constantly evolving and it is definitely the most exciting field of development in consumer electronics at the moment. The implications of the development of these devices in our everyday lives have yet to be seen. Also, it can be argued that personal fitness devices such as Jawbone and Fitbit are the only wearable technology devices that have seen a massive uptake from consumers so far. However it cannot be argued that this evolution in technology is seeking to change the way we use devices, as well as creating new datasets to be analysed in our quest to better understand consumer behaviour.

To sign up for our discussion around wearable tech, content, data, and how to utilize these new devices register here.