From sleek, sophisticated wristbands to quirky eyewear (à la Google Glass), wearable technology isn't just hype anymore—it's here to stay. Though skeptics argue that the wearable market will be slow to grow, consulting firm Deloitte estimates that the number of connected devices will reach roughly 10 million by the end of 2014 and generate more than $3 billion in revenue. By 2020, the number of units is likely to surpass 100 million, Deloitte projects.
Propelled by both industry buzz and measurable growth, wearables are poised to deliver an entirely new way for consumers to interact with technology, and provide businesses with an opportunity to leverage those interactions to build better brand experiences.
For advertisers and the search engines that rely on them, wearables will prove to be a dream come true, according to Sephi Shapira, CEO of MassiveImpact, a global performance-based mobile advertising platform. As it stands now, search is limited by text, but if wearables become mainstream, images, sounds, and other elements will be searchable as well. With more searchable content, consumers will generate more search transactions, and these, Shapira says, could add up to hefty profits for companies that advertise through Google and the like.
"There will be a whole new world of searchable material out there," Shapira says. "Customers could walk into an electronics store, grab an image of a camera they see in front of them, and then search for it online to compare offers. That will return more precise results than simply typing 'camera' in a search bar, and create the opportunity for more precise and targeted ads as well. This increases the likeliness of engagement, makes advertisers very happy, and keeps Google happy too," he explains.
Wearables could not only revolutionize search but also change the way companies gather intelligence about their customers. As with search, wearables are positioned to become a powerful force when it comes to consumer information because they can deliver on many more data points than just text. Google's Smart Contact Lens, for example, can measure pupil dilation to track blood glucose levels for diabetics and, when synced with a smart device, send an alert. This level of information, Shapira asserts,