We asked thought leaders how they feel about wearable technology and which devices, if any, they wear.
On wearables: Wearable technologies are a textbook example of innovation in the next wave of the Internet—the Internet of Everything. Wearables and the data they generate allow us to more effectively manage our lives, demonstrating the power of connecting people (me), processes (tracking my exercise regimen, for example), data (the number of steps, how far I walk) and things (the device).
On exploring wearables: I wear a FitBit. It tracks my steps, distance, calories burned and my sleep quality. There are also some really amazing new devices coming out that I want to try, like the Star.21 Fitness Band. Between work, home and my three kids, life is busy! And it's easy to run out of time to exercise and focus on myself. These wearables help me keep my own health on the radar, even when I don't have time to think about it. It's even much more manageable (and fun) when you can make healthy living a shared goal, which we do in my home.
On the future: Wearables are in their infancy, but I believe the innovation we are experiencing with the Internet of Everything is going to fuel amazing new ways to connect ourselves to everyday products and improve our lives. It's not just consumers who will benefit, either. Gartner predicts that by 2020, consumer data collected from wearables will drive 5% of sales for the top 1,000 global companies. Now there is the perfect intersection of consumer power and commercial opportunity!
Global President, Digital
Cohn & Wolfe
On wearables: It's a remarkably exciting trend that we've been discussing for a couple of years now. I believe we are still in the earliest days. I tend to think of wearables in two categories: those that facilitate your active connected experience, like Google Glass or smart watches, and those that more passively collect, analyze and apply data to serve particular functions, like fitness trackers and integrated sensors. Of course, these categories will converge and expand in the same way that the term "mobile" no longer means what it did three years ago. "Wearables" will just be another facet of persistent connectivity.
On what you're wearing: I've been a fan of FitBit, having worn various models over two years. I pair it with the app MyFitnessPal. This was perhaps responsible for the most significant improvement in my life in 20 years—losing 50 pounds through diet and exercise. As an athlete, I also wear the Suunto Ambit 2, which gives me an enormous amount of data about my workouts.
On new opportunities: While the device aspect of wearables will continue to evolve, there is no doubt that some of the greatest opportunities will be on the services and apps side of the industry. As a professional in the marketing services industry I am extremely interested in the ability to identify and develop solutions for consumers and brands that provide mutual benefit. The wearables trend stands to disrupt and improve major systems and industries like healthcare, payments, security, trade, leisure and entertainment.
Personal Tech Columnist
On wearables: There's been as much hype attached to the wearable tech category as any other in recent memory, and I don't think the be-all device, if there is such a thing in concept, exists yet. In fact, thinking that there might be an all-things-to-all-people wearable is probably the wrong way to think about this stuff.
On wearing tech: I don't wear a smart watch, high-tech fitness bracelet or other wearable tech. Not full-time anyway. I've certainly donned most of the early wearable tech devices that are out there for purposes of review, and I've liked some more than others.
On what works: The most useful devices are those geared for a specific purpose such as health or fitness. And what's right for you may not be appropriate for me. Whatever the perfect device or devices turns out to be—and yes, you can consider this the prehistoric era—wearable tech is here to stay. And the devices that emerge and prevail over the long term must have strong battery life, be priced right, be useful to a core market or markets and, last but not least, meet our lofty standards of fashion.
On wearables: We're in a stage right now where we are learning which technology should be "external" and which should be "internal." Social mores are being tested, the relevance of biometric data is being assessed and the limits of how far we are willing to go with our bodies (and for what) are being pushed. The next several years will be critical to determine what technology lives outside of us and what lives inside of us.
Favorite wearable: My everyday wearable is a brushed stainless Pebble Steel. I really enjoy the way I can customize the notifications I receive from my phone. It's taken a while to determine which ones are helpful and which are distracting, but I've limited them to VIP emails, text messages and Twitter @replies (though this may be the next to go). It's also a great way to control Pandora from my wrist as I walk down the street or check a quick sports score with the new ESPN Pebble App. And of course, the changeable watch faces are just fun.
On the most promising: Several innovations have me intrigued. Google Now is a rapidly evolving product that may actually have a place on the wrist. Biometric sensors and implants may be the future of healthcare and security. Wearable cameras will most definitely find a place in police departments. Google Glass needs to be reduced to contact lenses (or live within glass lenses) to really work.
Lisa Joy Rosner
On wearables: Tech wearables are today's new gadget that has legs. Everyone is focused on fitness, and the ability to check stats in real time, track calories, food intake, etc., will keep folks engaged. The trend has taken a while to catch on, given issues with syncing the technology and getting the information consumers want at their fingertips. With most, if not all, of those challenges solved, I think the market for tech wearables will continue to grow at fast pace.
On using a wearable: I currently wear a FitBit. I got it as part of Neustar's Wellness Program and have been wearing it ever since. I started out using every function and while I'll admit I'm not great at daily input, I am great at ensuring I hit my daily goal of 10,000 steps. I even walk around the house late at night just to make sure I hit my goal. For me, a consummate achiever, it makes me smile every time my device buzzes and lights up signaling I have met my goal.
On what shows the most promise: I think it depends on each person and how they choose to use technology—whether it is to help them achieve a goal, make their lives easier or just be cool by having the latest gadget. I'm a proponent of both form and function. I have tried wearables in the past and found them too clunky when they required me to go home, log in, sync to my computer, etc. So, to me, ease of use is key and the Fitbit does just what I need to keep me going.
Gatorade and Propel
On wearables: I'm really intrigued with the whole movement of "quantified self" that wearables are unlocking, especially in the world of sport and fitness. I love that they are bringing greater awareness (and some healthy motivation) to activity and sleep. That being said, I think there is still room for improvement on delivering meaningful and accurate information. However, I have a feeling we're going to see huge advances over the next year starting with the recent intro of the Apple Watch.
On exploring wearables: I'm experimenting with a few different devices right now, such as Jawbone's UP, and I have a few others on the docket. It's a nice motivation to stretch my run a bit farther or take the stairs a few more times during the day thanks to these devices. But I'm really excited about the next generation of devices.
On the future: I get really excited about the opportunity to connect multiple data sources to deliver personalized recommendations around everything we do—from activity, to sleep, to fueling—to help each of us get more out of our activity. The emerging technology around measuring heart rate on your wrist is really interesting to me as this will help ensure greater accuracy, especially in the world of sports.