Category Archives: COMMERCIAL

Seven Ways To Make Your Wearable Stand Out

The wearables market is poised for a meteoric rise fueled by rapid technology advancements, a burgeoning Internet of Things ecosystem, and evolving consumer trends. According to IDC, 72 million wearable devices will be shipped this year, up more than 173 percent from 2014. Shipment volumes are expected to grow at at an annual rate of 43 percent over five years to reach 156 million by 2019.

As demand intensifies for consumer lifestyle and healthcare innovations, expect a wave of new products to flood the market. Will yours be one of them?

I believe the most successful vendors, app developers, and accessory makers are integrating one or more of the following attributes into their formulas for winning wearables.

An Emerging Ecosystem

Companies that take advantage of a hardware-software ecosystem to deliver end-to-end solutions are gaining momentum. Today, the Disney Magic Band shines in this category for its ability to connect visitors effortlessly with every part of their experience at Walt Disney World Resort. The all-in-one device can be used to enter the park, unlock your hotel room, as well as buy food and merchandise—even jump a ride line with FastPass+. This piece of Disney magic is enabled by an RF network and hardware connectivity grid that links visitors with the vacation itinerary selected online.

Look for similar applications on cruise ships and other resort destinations. We might also expect to see them in smart cities, as major municipalities, urban business centers, and retail shopping districts debut heightened ways to connect people, places, and things.

Data Analytics

Some of the most interesting wearables today analyze massive amounts of sensor-generated data using proprietary algorithms to generate meaningful, actionable insights. Such is the case with the Lumo Lift, which tracks, collects, and correlates data on your posture and then reminds you to stand up straight, so your mother doesn’t have to.

Data Visualization

With clear, concise data visualization, companies can turn data into valuable knowledge. Jawbone does a great job with its easy-to-understand dashboard of insights from activity, sleep, and food tracking. Additionally, Jawbone’s Smart Coach gives consumers personalized tips and advice that become more relevant and tailored over time as sensors gather more personalized information.

Data Community

Community is important, especially among users of fitness wearables. Sharing goals, milestones, and roadblocks with other users can motivate and inspire. Runtastic not only provides the prerequisite activity trackers, it connects consumers with an internal community and integrates with various social networks.

With fitness and healthcare wearables, community is proving to be a powerful catalyst for change. Fitness enthusiasts can cheer on each other and rally around those who are seeking to improve their health.

Sensor Convergence

The Apple Watch is probably the highest-profile converged wearable. So far, analysts have found what appear to be a minimum of 10 different sensors. What matters less than the number of sensors is how their data is blended together. Linking different kinds of sensors produces rich, contextual data and new associations among variables.

Peerbridge Health is developing the next generation of wearable wireless vital-sign monitoring technology. Sensor-generated data for monitoring ECG heart rate and rhythm is combined with respiratory rate data to draw correlations and associations. As more sensors come together, new insights are gained.

New Sensors, New Uses

You can drive innovation by adding new sensors. Or you can use existing sensors in new ways. For instance, BSX Insight is an athletic training device that measures lactate thresholds using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) sensors to measure oxygenation of the blood. This data then is mapped to lactate levels to look at a new type of data—lactate threshold—and how it factors into measuring an athlete’s performance and fitness levels.

Attachment Types and Locations

Why do wearables have to be on our wrists or our faces? Expect new places to attach wearables, and new ways. Athos, a pioneer in smart fitness apparel, has created workout shirts and shorts embedded with 22 EMG sensors to measure muscle activity, heart rate, and respiration—all in real time.

Traditionally, EMG machines were reserved for elite athletes as they cost upward of $15,000. Not only is Athos putting this technology within consumers’ reach; it is introducing a new caliber of “smart” workout clothes.

Don’t Just Think Different – Be Different

Companies that will emerge as frontrunners in the white-hot wearables market must be multitaskers. It won’t be enough to just innovate on one plane. As the race to market escalates, I’m confident that products embodying combinations of the aforementioned attributes will stand out in a sea of wearables.

Voice of the Customer: Are You Really Listening?

The journey from product ideation to commercialization is full of opportunities, challenges, risks, and rewards. The best road to a successful, end-to-end product introduction is paved with constant customer touchpoints and a deep empathy for their wants and needs.

Sounds basic, but in reality, staying in lockstep with customers is an iterative process that must be integrated into every phase—from product planning, discovery, design, and development to manufacturing and delivery.

Boosting The Customer’s Voice

Here are 10 tips for making sure your customer’s voice comes through loud and clear:

1.) Consumers Hold the Power

Make no mistake: your ultimate customer isn’t the retailer dangling the promise of shelf space in front of you. It’s the consumer who actually uses your product. Speak to them, listen to them, and innovate for them. Most important, make an emotional connection with them.

2.) Dial Direct

Today, product makers have more direct access to consumers than ever before, which is a shift from when everything was tied to distribution. This shift enables newfound freedom to put consumers first and relieves the pressure from retailers. Remember, happy customers talk and retailers love to listen and have a product story to tell.

3.) It’s a Two-Way Street

Online ratings, reviews, and referrals carry enormous weight. So, as you’re basking in the glow of a great review, don’t overlook the damage that could be caused by negative critiques. Be sure to acknowledge praise but most important, respond quickly and efficiently to any customer concerns or problems. The first moment of truth is no longer on the shelf.

4.) Forego the Features Arms Race

Consumer buying practices are no longer driven by who ticks off the most feature checkboxes. So, avoid the race to produce a product overloaded with features. Instead, figure out which features deliver the most value and a compelling experience for customers.

What do they care about most? If we’re talking fitness wearables, for example, are they looking for fashionable, sporty designs that demonstrate commitment to a healthy lifestyle? Technology has enabled product makers to add more features—but that doesn’t mean you should. Simple, beautiful design that intuitively communicates the technology can become the next iconic product that everyone has to have.

5.) Not So Easy-Peasy

What’s easy for one person may be difficult for another, so “easy to use” has become a meaningless statement. Your product requirements list should have tangible, actionable insights based on what most engages your customers. If you don’t know, then talk to consumers to find out.

6.) Focus Groups Are So Mad Men

Focus groups play better on TV than as a product-development strategy. Instead, embrace ethnography to observe consumers interacting with products in their actual environments to uncover unarticulated needs and insights for innovation. Follow that with in-home user testing (IHUT), where consumers take home your product, use it for days to weeks, and chronicle their experiences. It’s really the best way to get real-time feedback about how to optimize your product’s value proposition.

7.) Cost + Value = Relationship

Deciding the final product price shouldn’t require a divining rod if you understand what your customers value most. Value can come from finish, quality, and a differentiating user experience. Value drives cost, so never lose sight of the relationship between the two.

8.) Brand is King

Never, ever trade on your brand equity to sell higher volumes at lower prices. It’s a short-term strategy that you’ll pay for at some point. Let’s face it having the “cheap but crappy” brand isn’t a sustainable business strategy. Be a good brand steward and say “no” to all things that could affect your brand in a negative way. The best brand protection is to build products with your customer in mind as everything else emanates from that crucial point of view.

9.) Get Real About Your Production Volume

Don’t try to lure a manufacturer into working with you by overestimating product volumes. You could end up with the wrong partner working toward the wrong goals. And, since volume correlates to product price, you could end up with a price point that negatively impacts your development cycle and, ultimately, customer relationships.

10.) It’s Never Over

Having an ongoing conversation with your customers means keeping them in the loop from day one and continuing after your product ships. You and your customer will always find things, no matter how rigorous your testing, so make it easy to provide feedback and make them part of the story.

Some companies see the constant customer feedback loop as a barrier to rapid product introductions. Instead, leveraging every customer touchpoint offers an opportunity to identify insights for improving the design, enhancing value, and elevating your brand. Integrating the voice of the customer in an end-to-end product development strategy is key to transforming a great idea into a fully commercialized product that continually delights customers.