By 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is projected to include more than 50 billion devices. Interestingly, as of the Acquity Group’s 2014 Internet of Things Report, 87 percent of consumers didn’t even know what IoT was, despite it being all around us.
Among the most familiar devices within the IoT realm are mobile devices and wearable devices. Some have called mobile the “Gateway to the Internet of Things,” as a smartphone is constantly communicating with various wireless devices in homes, businesses, wearables, etc. Smart wearables themselves, such as the Apple Watch, are also gaining in popularity, and an IDC forecast predicts 173.4 million wearable shipments by 2019.
Still, is the IoT moving a bit too fast, or in too many directions? Does it really provide what people want and how they want it?
What Do People Want from the Internet of Things?
Verizon’s report, State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016, touched on consumer expectations for the IoT. While many people are looking forward to the reality of self-driving cars, remotely controlled home thermostats and other conveniences, they’re largely concerned with connection and control, and staying in touch with the people and things that matter most.
For example, smart devices can help someone monitor the health of an aging parent, or keep tabs on a young child who’s home with the nanny. We also like devices that help us improve, such as wearable fitness trackers. Verizon’s report sees consumers as willing to experiment with new technologies that will work for them and increase quality of life.
A report from Argus Insights looked at what people want in wearable technology specifically. A key takeaway was that users are happier with the wearable devices themselves than they are with the apps that interpret the data the devices collect. Companies are encouraged to integrate the data in understandable ways that make it simple for users to take action based on that information.
Still yet another question is if people are seeking the constant connection that wearables provide. Anything a wearable does, a smartphone can already do (though sometimes not as well). The difference is that you can leave your phone on the table and go into another room, but that watch stays on your wrist—until you get fed up and toss it in the drawer.
Advertisers and the Internet of Things
For several years now, advertisers have been creating ads for the mobile environment, and users are already annoyed by ads that pop up on their phones. Now, advertisers must also think about their presence on wearable devices, and how that might pan out.
For example, think about Pokémon Go. It wouldn’t be surprising if, in the future, something like Fitbit integrated with the game, creating a health focus around the experience. We also expect to see advertising in the game at some point. Advertisers from the health sector could then step in to target users who will definitely be using their wearable devices, and likely be receptive to the ads.
But if you’re venturing into this realm, make sure you absolutely know your target audience. Some are talking about how wrong advertisers might be about the right audience for wearable technology. Rick Delgado over at Tech.co points out that the people who would actually benefit most from fitness trackers are often in lower income brackets, and not the athletic sorts portrayed in the ads.
Many people who suffer from chronic health issues would find much to be gained from having wearable devices catering to their various needs.
In many cases, these are people from lower income brackets living in places where there are few physicians. Though they would be a rich audience for the potential applications of wearables, they are mostly overlooked since they don’t fit the mold of what an early adopter should be in the eyes of advertisers.
This perception of the early adopter may be flawed anyway. Many people from lower income families are unfairly labeled as lacking tech savvy, when the opposite may well be true.
The truth is, it’s going to be hard for advertisers to break into the realm of wearables and other smart technology. However, people will always be intrigued by new technology, and advertisers will always scramble to show up on the latest screen or device.
While we all try to figure out just how connected we want to be, advertisers would do well to pay close attention to the IoT, wearables and the rest, while being wary of throwing too much time and money into the fray before the population is ready for it.