Wearables Require A New Kind Of Ecosystem

In the fast-moving markets of wearables and IoT, it's easy to be dazzled by new technologies. But what's more impressive to Forrester is a coherent, disruptive business model. I've written that 2014 will be the year of wearables 2.0, when select vendors develop real wearable business models. To help that journey along, I'd like to offer up a hypothesis for a new industry axiom:

In the era of wearables and the Internet of Things, tech companies must create a new kind of ecosystem  an ecosystem not of developers, hardware makers, or services companies, but of brands, healthcare providers, retailers, financial services companies, and governments.

I'm still testing this hypothesis out, and will write about it in future research. In the meantime, I'd like to hear your examples. To give you a sense of what I'm talking about, it's an ecosystem comprised of companies in:

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Google Aims For More Eyeballs With VSP Deal

Google, the online search superpower, has for years sought to maximize "eyeballs" -- in search marketing, a colloquial term for ad impressions viewed online.

Lately, though, Google's been going after a new kind of eyeballs. The literal kind.

Hot off of its announcement of a future product roadmap for smart contact lenses, Google today announced a partnership with VSP -- the largest optical health insurance provider in the United States -- for Google Glass. The New York Times quoted me saying, "the key business model of the year for wearables is becoming embedded into the health care system." By injecting wearables into health care:

  • The addressable market expands. VSP serves 59 million members with vision care insurance. 
  • Costs go down. VSP will offer subsidized frames and prescription lenses tailored to Google Glass. Some VSP members save additional money on purchases with pre-tax payroll deductions for the money they spend on optical care.
  • Credibility goes up. By coordinating with opticians and opthamologists, Google Glass can be recognized as consistent with healthy optical practices.
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Can Google Glass Overcome Social Stigma With Enterprise Scenarios?

This week, Google released a new promotional video for Google Glass that featured a non-consumer scenario – public safety. In this case, firefighters can use Glass to help them in a hands-free way in the field. For example, they can pull up an architectural schematic of a burning building before they run inside. They can pull up design specs for specific models of cars before using the jaws of life to save a crash victim. Or they can locate the nearest fire hydrant. Take a look:

Public safety is well-established as a scenario for wearable technology – as Motorola Solutions and other vendors have shown in their product portfolios. In this case, it also pulls at the heart-strings: Who’s more beloved by the general public than firefighters and other first responders?

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Google's Smart Contact Lenses Extend The Long Tail Of Wearables

On January 16, 2014, Google announced its smart contact lens project. But it’s not what you might have immediately thought (or hoped) – i.e., some sort of Google Glass display transferred to contact lens format. (Though that technology might someday exist). Instead, Google’s smart contact lens project is working toward productizing a healthcare wearable device that monitors blood glucose levels.

I’ve written a more extensive report that you can read and download here. But let me offer you a sneak peak at the analysis:

  • Smart contact lenses aim at diabetics, but will have other uses. Although Google didn’t mention these uses, blood glucose data is also valuable to other groups of patients – from overweight people aiming to lose weight to migraine sufferers.
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Wearables 2.0 at CES 2014: Richer Business Models And Enterprise Relevance

Las Vegas – Hello from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014, an industry gathering point for technology vendors, retailers, partners, media, and industry analysts. Like many, I’m here to meet with the innovators, witness demonstrations, and assess the state of the technology industry in 2014 (and beyond).

As they were at last year’s conference, wearables will be a very hot topic at CES 2014. But in the fast-moving world of technology, a year is a long time. In 2014, wearables will graduate to their 2.0 state. To understand this 2.0 iteration, Forrester released two new reports that clients can read and download. The first is an overarching view of the enterprise aspect of wearable technology, The Enterprise Wearables Journey. The second focuses on wearable health, Building A Fitter Business With Wearable Technology. Let me offer a sneak peak into why Wearables 2.0 is a critical topic.

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