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Working in the PR industry, it often feels like you have to know everything. We need to be the eyes and ears of whatever marketplace we are working with in order to stay on top of the new agenda for our clients.

 

There are an ever increasing number of systems and technologies in place to make the collating and sharing of news and information easier, which directly impact on industries including our own. This leads me to wonder how elements of PR may change when the predicted ‘next big step in mobile communications’ is released?

In late 2011, Google announced its first prototype of the design which has now become known as Google Glass, a wearable technology allowing its users to operate a computer system using voice, touch and movement controls.

Users could initially give the device simple instructions to take photographs, record videos, gain visible directions or send messages to friends, but constant updates mean that they can now install further applications to their device to make life simpler in a lot of ways.

 

So how could this technology make life easier for us?

I’ve thought a couple of times it would be handy to have ‘terminator style’ vision to take in and log all the information or great marketing ideas you see on a daily basis, and with Google Glass that’s basically what you’d get. A pair of glasses featuring a small window that allows you to see the information you need right before your eyes.

Imagine if you could see a promotion and instantly record it or run a search to gain vital information on your client’s competitors? Imagine if you could snap an image of a really interesting ad and send it to your team to inspire the next campaign or brainstorm.

These aren’t the only ways that wearable technology could help us out. As our agency name suggests, communications are a big part of what we do on a daily basis. Devices like these allow for simple messaging to a number of contacts, so similar to any office based workplace, the amount of time spent dealing with emails and phone calls could be minimised.

Many of the campaigns we work on rely on a lot of interaction between brand and consumer via social media platforms. It would give us the opportunity to update social networks and respond to posts from fans and followers in real time, whilst on the move – although it’s fair to say you can do this with mobiles, you could argue that wearable technology would make it easier.

 

So how could technology help out from a brand’s perspective?

New technology offers a whole new range of possibilities when it comes to marketing campaigns. A few years ago the creation of QR codes allowed brands to display a code on their product packaging or on advertising materials which would, when scanned using a smart phone, take a user to the brands webpage where further information and product promotions were placed in the consumer’s eye line.

Further down the line came the invention of the AR code, an ‘Augmented Reality’ platform that allows the user to scan a code on printed or physical objects using their mobile device, and therefore interact in real time with digital content. The codes usually offer a multimedia library that can be experienced online, anytime and anywhere.

So what if we now combined these new technologies? Consumers will most likely in the near future, have the ability to wander into a store, pick up a product and be launched into a seemingly 3D world designed by the brand. The possibilities are endless and exciting.

Another feature that has been added to Google Glass is the recognition of a wink. Users can wink, again at objects or printed materials, to be directed to more information about that object. For example, the wearer could wink at a cookbook recipe and see the cooking instructions appear right in front of them, or even at a pair of shoes in a shop window and have their size shipped straight to their door (providing their device contains as much information as the standard mobile device now does).

Brands could easily use this to their advantage. On the positive side, providing Instructional videos with products would be quite beneficial, and the thought of giving customers an unforgettable in-store or outdoor experience just by looking at something is amazing. You can imagine how this would impact on brand loyalty and also consumer retention.

 

But let’s face it, these glasses aren’t entirely rose tinted…

A recent study following up the launch of Google Glass has shown that over two thirds of people would feel uncomfortable wearing the device in public. I personally feel like an idiot walking around, trying desperately not to trip over the pavement as I stare into the world of my mobile phone, so I can’t say that having a device strapped around my face as I wander around the supermarket is a look I’m aiming for, but maybe that’s just me, a lot of people seem to enjoy it.

The study also showed that a lot of people would not feel comfortable talking to somebody else who was wearing the device, due to privacy issues, such as being filmed without permission. There are already quite a few places where similar devices are banned, such as restaurants, hospitals, banks and ATM’s. When you think about it, there really are a lot of places where the devices front facing camera could cause issues.

Similar to me, a lot of people have concerns over the general safety issues that surround these new technologies, such as cyclists or drivers wearing them. Google have already counteracted claims that driving wearing Glass is dangerous, by launching a feature which detects drowsiness in the eyes of users and provides a warning when they need to take a break.

Unsurprisingly, the research showed that a lot of consumers were unlikely to invest $600 in the product, (that’s £366 to you and me). Although it’s a fairly low price for new technology – considering the new big brand mobile phones are near £500 – I agree with a lot of research participants in that there’s no real need to rush out and buy the device.

After all, imagine how many posts we would have to look through on our social media pages of people’s lunches, views on the dog walks, endless photos of simply what’s in front of people’s faces….ALL OF THE TIME.

So what do you think about it? Is this new generation of technology going to drive real consumer engagement and brand loyalty or is it just another device that we have to consider in our daily lives?

I’m not sure, but the next time someone winks in my direction I will certainly be wondering why!

 

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