Mobile Monday: The Battle For Wearables Begins and What That Means For Events

In a battle over who can make consumers keep their phones in their pockets and wear their phones on their face and wrists instead, there seems to be only one true winner, the consumer. As producers of face-to-face human interaction, event planners have a unique opportunity to utilize wearables in a way that may not be used daily. We have a responsibility of being ahead of the trends and looking for ways to incorporate new tech into our events.

Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside WearablesGoogle glass has found more of a home in business than the consumer sector, but you shouldn’t expect the same results for other wearables like Apple Watch. Tech experts like Andrew Whiting, vice president of marketing at Solstice Mobile, “believe that having that push from Apple is going to make all the difference.” So, with Android Wear developers preparing to engage Apple in an all out wearables war, how can another disruptive technology change our events?

1. Mobile App Integration
With 37% of the events industry using mobile apps, and that percentage growing every day, you’re going to find attendees wanting to access their apps straight from their new wearables. Most event apps give their attendees the ability to create their own schedule, pre-selecting the sessions they plan to attend. Notifications on Apple Watch with the upcoming session name, time, and room are going to become commonplace. As if there weren’t enough questions to ask when researching mobile apps for your event, wearables are going to have to become part of the conversation.

2. RFID Technology
As wearables like Disney Magic Bands demonstrate successful implementation of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology we can expect events to adopt the technology for logistics like registration and session tracking. Connect&Go, a Montreal spinoff company of RFID Academia, has commercialized an ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) attendance and traffic flow solution for conferences, following the deployment of its system at last year’s C2 (commerce + creativity) Montréal conference. All data collected regarding attendee’s location is managed based on reads from UHF readers built into gates and chandeliers within the conference hall. This technology has already been adapted into lanyards and name badges. Increased attendee usage of wearables will only increase the adoption by event planners.

3. Health and Fitness
Health and fitness wearables have been arguably the most successful sector of wearable technology. The report, “Smart Health & Fitness Wearables Device Strategies, Trends & Forecasts 2014-2019,” predicts more than 18 million smart fitness wearables are in use by the end of 2014, with the figure tripling by 2018. Health and fitness expert Kim Bercovitz, Ph.D., President and Chief Exercise Officer (CEO) of X bytes (see our previous review on X bytes) shares that “when users wear these devices to track their activity, in conjunction with food intake apps like myfitnesspal, they are twice as likely to be more successful in weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. These wearables allow users to participate in groups together, compete against one another, and keep each other accountable and healthy. I would love to see a culture of wellness where conference planners create a group and send out invites to attendees to participate and work together to stay healthy.”

2015 will be a historical year for wearable technology adoption. Staying up to date on adoption rates and app developments can put your event ahead of the trends over the next few years.

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